Less is always more. Subtraction always adds value.
Ever wonder if your nonprofit is trying to do too many things and trying to be too many things for too many people? Your unease is well warranted.
Remember back in 2008 when Apple introduced its next-generation MacBook laptop computer. Apple’s master designer, Jonathan Ive, told an audience that Apple’s new aluminum unibody enclosure eliminated tons of the computer’s major structural parts and also made the computer thinner.
Interestingly, getting rid of all those parts also made it more rigid. Stronger. It also became lighter, thinner and more appealing because it was easy to carry.
Less became more. Subtraction added value.
According to Ive at the time, “We are absolutely consumed by trying to develop a solution that is very simple because as physical beings we understand clarity.”
Steve Jobs added at a later date, “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying ‘no’ to 1,000 things.”
Here’s what I recommend you do right now.
- Take a sticky note pad.
- Start writing each single program your organization’s donors support on an individual note. Keep going until you have all of them on a single note.
- Now rank them by sticking the most important ones on the left side of your wall. Those are the ones that most of your supporters’ dollars fund. The ones you can’t live without.
- With what remains, keep sticking those on the wall until you get to the least important ones. They should end up far to the right side of the wall.
- Now, take a step back and breathe in deep.
- Next, determine which of the programs generate 80% of your support (revenue).
- Take those sticky notes down and put them somewhere safe.
- Look carefully at the remaining sticky notes and prepare to eliminate those programs as soon as possible.
Your newfound focus will deliver greater results. I promise.
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