Innovating Customer Service in a time of crisis

When looking to innovate and use technology to improve efficiency, it isn’t always necessary to reinvent the wheel. Sometimes it’s as simple as taking freely available tech and trialling its use with a new audience.

In early 2020, Asthma UK started an initiative to bring in a ‘new’ digital tool to help reach more beneficiaries through a different channel of their choice. At the time they were totally unaware of the rapidly approaching pandemic which would put a huge strain on medical professionals, especially those working with asthma and other lung diseases.

The introduction of a WhatsApp channel to speak directly to an Asthma nurse has attracted a new cohort of beneficiaries to engage with the Clinical team at the Asthma UK . WhatsApp allows people who potentially wouldn’t use a helpline due to disabilities, people who cannot talk via the phone as they are having a flare up, or people who are simply more aware of their breathing due to COVID 19 to speak to the team of nurses through a channel of choice at a time that suits them.

This service has shown a reduction in email traffic to the nurses, suggesting that people are more interested in having a back and forth instant messaging style conversation than a single email response.

Whilst there has not been a reduction in phone calls (quite the opposite, phone calls saw a significant increase during the first few months of the pandemic) the nurses are able to quickly respond to a few questions via WhatsApp in between phone conversations with beneficiaries, which was not possible beforehand. Thus, a significant benefit of the service is that the Clinical team are able to juggle multiple conversations, making the best use of their time and not leaving beneficiaries waiting for them to finish up their call back list or sift through their emails in order to respond to quick queries and questions.

Other benefits of the new system include

  • Clinicians being able to develop and share template responses
  • Send quick and punchy messages that signpost beneficiaries to online content or primary care
  • Share infographics and videos of inhaler techniques for people to store on their phone and refer back to
  • Give a limited out of hours service through limited automation that sends over basic resources depending on the query with a message that a nurse will be in touch on Monday or to recontact the service on the next working day.

It is also easier to use WhatsApp conversations for analysis and review of the service as they do not record voice conversations for this purpose. Thus, there are more opportunities for shared learning and training from chat histories.

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, this allowed the Clinical team to massively increase the contact that they were having with beneficiaries. If they couldn’t get through all their chats, they were able to filter for COVID queries and send automatic responses signposting to webpages that were updated every day. The increase in beneficiaries reached and supported during a difficult time was the overarching benefit of this new system, however they also noticed a secondary benefit in the form of an increase in donations which are directly attributed to communications with the Clinical team. That is to say, in giving more to their beneficiaries, the organisation noticed that their beneficiaries wanted to give back to the charity

Congratulations to Asthma UK for their innovative use of everyday technology to support their beneficiaries in their time of need!

People and processes come before technology

What’s driving your need for new technology?

Technology underpins service delivery and must therefore be top of the list when planning a systems review. This is regardless of where current challenges lie in respect of delivery of strategic business objectives.

It’s possible to read about the importance of investing in technology every day, of making the most of technology, of how vital the adoption of technology is to our success. This is, of course, valid opinion, but it can become tempting to invest in and implement new technology before really determining what objectives lie behind doing so.

At Hart Square, we work with a range of organisations within the non-profit sector. We provide strategic consultancy around “CRM systems” in the widest sense. Our expertise and advice with respect to CRM ecosystems and digital solutions covers:

  • Back office CRM database systems
  • Online platforms and applications
  • CMS systems
  • Social Engagement solutions
  • Digital Strategies
  • Technology Audits
  • Implementation Support
  • Marketing Automation tools
  • A myriad of other systems, processes and technology

All of which can be deployed in support of a Customer Relationship Management (or Engagement) strategy.

Planning with niche needs in mind

Whilst it’s useful to be aware of the promises made by technology and the opportunities that it may present, it’s more important to start planning without any specific technology in mind.

This helps to ensure that no objectives are technology driven.

This means no system can impose any constraints on the early thinking which is crucial to a technology investment. In turn, this tends to lead to a successful CRM system refresh project.

Putting people first

“People first” is a phrase that (in some form or another) probably has a central place within your mission, vision and strategy. It should carry the same importance and weight within your CRM technology strategy.

Professional membership bodies in the UK are now very familiar with the need to conduct member research as part of their member retention strategy. This ensures that current members are both achieving and recognising the value of the services and benefits they get.

A natural element, or extension, of this strategy and activity is to research what else existing members want to see from their membership, and to maintain and update this understanding of what will attract new members. Equally for charities, understanding what links supporters to their cause and inspires them to act is vital.

This same information should form a key component of any technology strategy. Technology should never be deployed for its own sake. It must serve a purpose and that purpose is almost certainly going to be to recruit new donors, supporter and members, deliver new services, retain existing members, and deliver existing services in better ways.

Listening enables inclusive decision making processes

We talk elsewhere about the need to have a Social Engagement strategy within a CRM strategy, and Social CRM tools within a CRM ecosystem, but the key here is to listen. Listen to what existing members, donors, and stakeholders do value – and what they don’t. Listen to what non-member, non-donor audiences are talking about, are interested in, are enthused and frustrated by, then devise appropriate responses to support them in their professional development or their charitable aims.

Note the importance of “what they don’t value” in this discussion. As a recent example, when I was talking to a client of ours about their email marketing campaign tools and messaging they were concerned that the “Unsubscribe” option in their regular bulletins may be too easy to use and were asking advice around what was acceptable. My advice to them was to make the option easily visible – without promoting it of course! The reasoning behind this advice is that if subscribers aren’t getting value from what you’re sending them then you want to know about it.

Most professionals, most employees, most people are bombarded by email, and again we know one of our challenges is to get our messages identified, valued and read in amongst the spam and junk.

If you make it difficult to unsubscribe then they’ll add you to their Junk Mail filter settings or simply delete your emails without reading them. If they take the time to unsubscribe then it almost certainly means that they’ve read your email and not found it relevant or interesting. You want to know this!

Why waste your time delivering content which isn’t valued, when you could tweak and tune your messages to make them more appropriate, relevant and valued, which is better for absolutely everyone involved? Go further and consider how this insight should feed your organisational strategy, not just your newsletter and digital content strategy.

A varied approach enables you, your members, your donors, your supporters

The more varied you can make your subscription options, your newsletters and marketing content, including unsubscribe options, the more quality information you can derive from the detail of subscriptions, reads, click-throughs and unsubscribes. Depending on the technology that you use to deliver this content, you’ll get better or worse, or different, analysis and insight into what’s being valued, and more or less flexibility to be responsive.

That’s where the technology choice comes in; once you know what you’re trying to achieve (have set your objectives) and as one part of a strategic investment in people, processes and technology.


User adoption – overcoming inertia & achieving success

Inertia; Noun; a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged


It’s something that operational staff at non-profits, charity and membership organisations alike, can suffer from. People generally don’t like change and can become very comfortable with the systems and processes they have in place. So when you’re trying to introduce change – as in the introduction and implementation of a new CRM system – inertia often comes in to play. ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ is often the mind-set.

Not achieving successful user adoption – i.e. not getting people on board – is one of the biggest reasons why CRM implementation projects fail. That’s why it’s vital that all staff are involved with, and informed about, the implementation of a new system from the outset, not just towards the end when a system is ready to ‘go live’.

Overcoming barriers

There are some barriers that are fairly unique to non-profits and member organisations which can impact successful user adoption:

  • Non-profits often have very loyal workers who have 10-15-plus years of service. Having consistent and knowledgeable staff members is a real benefit, but it also means that they get very comfortable with the way they work – and change can often be a tough ask
  • Many have regional or national offices and relationships between the two can often be strained, with a sort of “us and them” mentality stockpiled over time
  • Staff are usually keenly aware of finances and can be sceptical about what might be seen as an expensive new CRM system

Breaking down these barriers is a fundamental part of user adoption, and revolves around understanding the viewpoints of all staff within the organisation, and instilling confidence in the benefits that new system can bring.

The value of training

According to a Forrester Research report, some 70 per cent of process initiatives fail because of poor business change management. Reams could be written here about change management, but arguably at its core is training.

We’ve found that, through the countless CRM implementation projects we have been involved in, continuous training starting early on, and not just at the end of an implementation, is highly beneficial.

A lack of training can seriously impact user adoption and the subsequent success of a project. We believe that bespoke training on an organisation’s own system, using its own data and business processes, is the most effective way to get user buy-in and increase staff’s usage of the system.

Avoid users being marginalised

Another key area of project failure can arise when the main users of a CRM system somehow become ‘marginalised’ by the implementation phase and are not informed sufficiently of the benefits a new system can bring

Any negativity around a new system can often be driven by a sort of ‘fear factor’, e.g. “I know how to use the current system but I don’t think I’ll cope with a new one,” or “I’m not an IT person so how will I get on with this thing?”, or “Will this mean that my work will be done automatically and ‘management’ will decide I am not needed?”

More often than not, these fears arise from a lack of knowledge. To encourage successful user adoption it’s important to understand and address these concerns. That involves understanding why people feel as they do and providing information and feedback which helps to meet their concerns.

The value of external specialists

In many organisations, implementation challenges can be difficult to address internally. That’s why we’re unique in being able to offer organisations a level of expertise and planning which might otherwise not be possible internally.

We can play a “mediator” role. As external specialists we are able to distance ourselves from internal issues and politics and can get much more honest feedback from staff. By remaining impartial, we can investigate issues surrounding a system, listen to user feedback and find solutions to problems easier and faster.

Ultimately, we believe that the goal of any CRM project is to achieve a transformative effect – i.e. users of a new system should end up saying, “How did we ever get by without this?”

Why we created our Definitive Guide to Salesforce for non-profits

At Hart Square we offer a wealth of services exclusively to non-profit clients and central among these is guidance and support if any are considering changing their technology. This covers a range of digital solutions, not the least of which is their CRM system.

Hart Square’s advice is completely technology-agnostic

We’re completely agnostic when it comes to the choices our clients make, but it is important for us to be fully conversant with the options available to them, so we spend a lot of time and effort researching the market and keeping in close touch with the many agencies who offer solutions to the non-profit sector.

The research we do obviously includes monitoring trends as reported or suggested, but also involves our own discussions with clients past and present, and across our extensive network of contacts within the sector.

We research solutions across an extensive network within the sector

As most people will be aware, since the early 2010’s the so-called platform solutions have competed with specialist proprietary providers to deliver systems to the sector, and the most well-known of those are Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics. Looking across the piece we see the strengths, and weaknesses, of platforms and proprietary offerings, and we work hard to help clients choose the right solution model so we delve quite deep into most of them.

What we’ve found over recent years is that whilst we’ve learnt and understood a lot about how approach the sector, and we consider it to be a strong proposition for non-profits, this isn’t something which the sector as a whole has embraced to the extent we might expect.

The non-profit sector hasn’t necessarily embraced Salesforce to the extent we would expect

We decided to dig a little further, really to sense-check our own perceptions, and to make sure we’re able to give our clients best advice. That’s really the genesis of the idea for the Definitive Guide, which is our overview of the proposition and is intended to help the sector make good decisions and achieve the best outcomes.

Whilst we’re completely technology agnostic, and frankly ambivalent, about the decisions clients make, we do focus on our ability to provide thorough and up-to-date information about the options they have, and that they make decisions based on fact rather than perception.

The guide covers the Nonprofit Cloud and is backed up by client case studies and partner profiles

So centrally the Guide itself covers the core Salesforce technology, the specific proposition for non-profits, the partner network and how it operates, and the AppExchange. Together these form what is referred to as the Nonprofit Cloud, and this is opportunity which is available to non-profits who do evaluate Salesforce,org as their CRM provider.

This is then supported by a series of case studies, membership body showcases and partner profiles

Really then what we’ve sought to do is to evaluate some of the perceptions and comments we’ve been given by our networks, specifically or primarily the more negative of them, to assess them against what we’ve experienced and what we understand about, and to try to shine a light on the reality of the proposition.

On the back of that we still consider Salesforce to be a really strong offering for the sector, and we’ve challenged ourselves to explain how the model works so that non-profits have a better chance of understanding what the opportunity is and how they might get the best out of it. has a really strong offering for the non-profit sector; we’ve set out to explain it in the Guide

Hart Square’s Definitive Guide to Salesforce for non-profits was launched at our own chase.livestream conference, and is freely available to everyone within the sector who might have an interest in it.

You can download it from our website at Hart Square’s Definitive Guide to Salesforce for non-profits


Content Marketing isn’t just about content

Content marketing for non-profits and member based organisations

Does your organisation publish content on LinkedIn?
Do your members go to your website to lookup the latest article you created?
Did you recently post your organisation’s latest news on Facebook?
Is your organisation using Twitter or tumblr? Or Instagram?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, was there a strategy behind this content? Whilst it’s relatively simple to post links, publish a blog article and add new items for your organisation, ensuring that they all link to your goals can be easily forgotten.

Although this content might make you more visible is it bringing you new members, is it retaining your current members by answering their questions and giving them the support they need?

If the answer is no, you need to re-think your content marketing strategy. In building a strategy around your business goals, the needs/wants of your members should be driving your content marketing, and not content alone.

Here are some questions to think about:

  • What are the needs of your members?
  • What are your strategic goals?
  • How do you add value to your members?
  • How can you successfully deliver and address your members’ needs?
  • How can you build trust and relationships with your members?

How can you ensure you evolve in line with their needs? Building your strategy around your business goals and members needs should be holistic and ensure your organisation is thinking ‘with one head’. Before you publish/post/add think about the following:

  • How will this help your strategic progress?
  • What value will this be to your members?
  • Will this drive conversations?
  • Is this aligned with your organisations goals?

Currently there is a buzz around social media becoming too congested with content marketing and we could be witnessing a bubble on the verge of collapse. This buzz could be helping to drive organisations to deliver more content, to be heard above the rest and adding to ‘the noise’, instead of focusing on what is important to the organisation.

What’s more, now that we’re all having to spend ever more of our working lives online, the risk of information overload is at an all-time high. The imperative is to stand out from the crowd and to be talking to your audiences about the topics they’re interested in, otherwise you’ll simply be ignored.

Creating a content strategy will help you to have a clear and consistent voice and also ensure you aren’t publishing content that is useless to your audiences and isn’t growth-driven.

A Content Strategy shouldn’t be complex; it centres on an overall model comprising:

  • Having objectives you’re seeking to achieve
  • Defining your key audiences
  • Producing specific, tailored content for those key audiences
  • Delivering that content on the channels and in the formats they prefer
  • Monitoring performance and tuning accordingly

Lastly here are some tips for future content marketing:

  • Ensure content is of the highest quality
  • Be in sync with your organisation
  • Be boring (as long as you are serving the needs of your members)
  • Change is good (as long as it is progress)
  • Listen to your members
  • Be committed and consistent

If you’re ready to build out your strategy, we can help! Talk to us about our range of strategic development services including digital, social, business and technology.

For more content like this join us at our all-new virtual chase.livestream conference from September 8th to 10th
Reserve your free place now at

Five top tips for Project Sponsors

At Hart Square, we work with many different Project Sponsors, each with their own character, vision and leadership style that draws on their organisation’s values and structure.

The Sponsor plays a key role in the project’s lifecycle – they are the ultimate decision-maker, the project champion, and, as they may remind you, the one whose head rests on the block if the project fails.

With great power, comes great responsibility, but one would also argue that great learning comes too. What qualities do successful Project Sponsors share?
No matter the size of your project or organisation, here are some top tips for successful project sponsorship.

  1. Keeping the big picture
    As Project Sponsor you need to be able to cut through project ‘noise’ to make pragmatic decisions for the whole project.
    Avoid being pulled in the weeds of day to day project delivery – that’s why you have your Project Team. You need to retain your perspective so you can track overall progress, gauge when the project is excelling or stalling, and be ready to inject focus and momentum as the project demands.
  2. Trust your Project Team
    Empowering staff within a clear and agreed remit is essential to a proactive, engaged Project Team. Actively listen to their recommendations and create an environment which welcomes constructive challenges and recognises individual strengths and expertise.
    Consider how your Project Team refer to themselves within the project, are we in it together or is there a disconnect?
  3. Making clear what success means to you
    Is it hitting a certain deadline? Or is it not spending one penny over budget?
    Of course, we want projects to satisfy all elements of the cost, time, and quality trinity, but knowing your success statement and being upfront from the start sets expectations and focuses efforts. This is your cornerstone to refer to in the face of competing demands and decisions.
  4. A role model for failure
    The Project Sponsor has an essential role in communicating what failure is (or isn’t) and how we respond when things go wrong.
    Create a safe space for new ideas and approaches by speaking positively about trying, testing and learning – just because something has changed doesn’t mean the old way was broken. When things don’t go well, set the precedent and show how projects can learn from experience without aggressive finger pointing.
  5. Championing hearts and minds
    As well as inspiring the Project Team with your big picture, the Sponsor has a vital role in establishing the project’s profile and its alignment within the wider organisation.

Shorter, frequent updates on progress will reassure stakeholders and keep your vision at the fore. What are the 3 things you want staff to associate with the project when it comes up at the next budget meeting?

For more content like this join us at our all-new virtual chase.livestream conference from September 8th to 10th
Reserve your free place now at

Seven Guerrilla Tactics for Managers of Change

As Hart Square grows, we find ourselves more and more focussed on how change management practice works for our clients.

We have always recognised our work is simply the work with the people. And NFP technology partners agree even the rational keystrokes of code are powered by fizzing synapses.

In this brave, new(ish) world, who may we all turn to as our guide in the field? What advice is there that speaks from true experience not from the hearth or the classroom?

Where are the guerrilla tactics for engagement?

Guided by Patrick Mayfield’s brilliant Seven Principles of Stakeholder Engagement, here are seven tips to consider when you find yourself in the “old rag and bone shop” of change:

– 1. Never turn your back on influence. Your greatest blind spot is ignoring that person or team that has sway over opinions toward or away from the desired change.

Make a continual effort to understand what matters to these people most and work it into your engagement plan. Despite what you think, you will not have all the right answers.

– 2. Be brutal about scouting and recruiting the best in the ranks.

Line managers and executives will struggle to yield these valuable resources. You must work with them to make your case. These smart problem solvers will challenge the change in all the right ways. You will hand them back as change champions and if not already, change leaders.

– 3. Leave no one behind.

Engaging with those who are highly resistant or slow to change will make your efforts doubly hard. Anyone left behind the user adoption curve will face an incredibly hard-working life. This will affect future changes in the organisation. And simply: you will regret leaving people behind.

– 4. Befriend the Angel of Patience.

You will yearn for the lesson quickly understood, the update received without challenge and the “techy” response answered by nodding silence.

Yet you must structure and count time in your resource as a project or change manager for listening, seeking to understand, demonstrating your understanding, for learning.

There are many places for efficiency in your plan. This is not a place to tightly cut your cloth.

– 5. Do not be an Army of One.

It is inevitable at Hart Square to be part of a triumvirate that sometimes tends towards division. Project, and especially, programme engagement involves complex partnerships and conflict.

If you find yourself overwrought, remember to stop, regroup, understand what in your engagement has gone astray, and recover all available lost ground. Be human, basically.

– 6. Talk is not actually cheap in the world of consultancy.

Experience shows us how closely non-profit organisations weigh the cost against the benefit of commissioning Hart Square services. As a result, our contracts must never deliver engagement alone. Always remember discussion is invaluable when it is a catalyst for progress.

– 7. Never take your eyes off the horizon

As project and change managers, our accountabilities always include a duty to scan and identify emerging risks and opportunities. Use any metric, dashboard or toolkit available to help you respond to the climate around your project or programme. And always make your report.

Good luck!

For more content like this join us at our all-new virtual chase.livestream conference from September 8th to 10th
Reserve your free place now at

How can my organisation become digitally mature?

How can my organisation become digitally mature?

At Hart Square, we have the privilege of working with a range of different organisations right across the non-profit sector. Recently many of them have been placing a strong emphasis on improving their digital capabilities and their all-round use of technology.

Against this backdrop, one question arises regularly: how do organisations become ‘digitally mature’ or a ‘digital first’ organisation?

Understanding what being digitally mature means can be a challenging first question, and it will mean different things for different organisations.

McKinsey Consulting, in their article “What Does Digital Mean” defined it as:

Digital is less a thing and more a way of doing things

So how can your organisation develop its level of digital maturity and reach a place where you’re happy with your way of doing things? There are several elements which an organisation should consider, and we will analyse a couple below.

Critical factors in this are the culture and skills within the organisation.

In a digitally mature organisation, there needs to be a focus on developing people’s skills, allowing experimentation to take place and creating a culture that values the learnings that come from failure. Of course, skillset is an important aspect but equally important is the culture of your organisation. Conditions need to facilitate new ways of working and giving people the tools they need to push the organisation forward.

This is acknowledged in the 2019 Charity Digital Skills report by Zoe Amar, where 56% of charities are asserted to be taking active steps to improve their culture so digital can flourish.

Customer experience and understanding your audiences are other important factors.

This does not necessarily mean you should just have the latest digital ‘fad’ but instead understand how and where your audiences are engaging. To ensure you can continue to respond to your customers’ needs, you need to put the right infrastructure and processes in place to implement a continuous cycle of development which evolves over time.

Each organisation will have their own way of judging if they are ‘digitally mature’ but in a rapidly changing digital ecosphere the goal posts will continue to move.

That is why its more critical than ever to put in place the right processes, people and infrastructure that will allow your organisation to flourish and evolve. If your organisation can do things in the right way, it will be more than capable of reaching and sustaining the digital maturity you desire.

Disrupt or retreat? How to lead your non-profit out of the pandemic

Disruptive leadership has been a hot topic in the past few years, with the term coming to prominence as we searched for new approaches to help us navigate the digital age. The need to explore new methods of management and leadership, as well as the choice of term, reflect primarily on the incredible pace and unpredictability of change we’ve been experiencing since digital became the driving force behind society at large and business in particular.

But what is disruptive leadership? What are the key characteristics of a disruptive leader? And now, in the face of an unprecedented external shock to us all, shouldn’t we resist adding to the disruption we’re experiencing, and instead retreat to tried and tested, stable and secure methods, and traditional leadership techniques?

That would seem the logical thing to do, to hold tight to certainty and rely on our experience to see us out the back of a period which has been beyond anything any of us have previously experienced.

But let’s pause for a moment and consider what we mean by disruptive leadership and what characteristics define it. There are different versions of this around of course, as there always is, but arguably disruptive leaders are agile and…

  • Humble, accept that others may know more than them and welcome critique
  • Adaptable, accept that change is constant and can’t be fully controlled. Not too precious to be prepared to change opinion and course in the light of new information or developments
  • Visionary, able to develop and focus on a long-term vision despite the fluidity of the present and short-term
  • Engaged, willing to listen and learn beyond and outside of traditional structures and hierarchies

It’s said that the root cause of the disruptive leadership model has been the disruption caused by digitisation of processes, products and business models. Can we not argue that the pandemic has had an equally seismic effect of products, processes and business models? Whilst many have struggled we’ve also seen innovation on an unprecedented scale here in the UK non-profit sector:

  • We transitioned our organisations overnight to remote-first working, and have sustained that for months
  • We found, embraced and invented virtual fundraising ideas
  • We channelled funds to those most in need and delivered direct support nationally and internationally
  • We provided food and sustenance to frontline workers and those who are being most impacted by the crisis
  • We supported professional members in defiance of the odds, and saw the professions re-emerge as an anchor of truth in a firestorm on uncertainty
  • We stepped in where society needed us to, we proved that the Third Sector is the lifeblood of this country, when the call went out we answered.

So let’s harness that energy and success, and be emboldened as we start to strategise our way forward over the coming months and years.

As a starting point, let’s consider our approach to decision-making, since agility is one of the bedrocks of disruptive leadership. Larry Page, co-founder of Google and CEO of Alphabet, builds on the old adage that the only bad decision is no decision, and takes it further, emphasising the value of fast decision-making

“There are basically no companies that have good slow decisions. There are only companies that have good fast decisions” Larry Page, CEO of Alphabet

There’s no denying Google & Alphabet’s success, built on OKRs and extended through disruptive leadership. Maybe this is the biggest lesson of all for us to take away? When we were compelled to make fast decisions, based on the little that we knew within a volatile environment, we made good decisions and survived. Many will do more than survive, they’ll learn their lessons and flourish in the new world. Are we brave enough to maintain this philosophy, to continue to make fast, clear decisions? Are you brave enough to join them….?

For more thought-provoking content around leadership best practice join us for our free chase.livestream conference, running virtually across 3 mornings in September, from the 8th to 10th

How to find a balance between culture and strategy

In my previous post on the subject of culture and strategy, I described how and why they compete for dominance in many organisations, especially charities. Taking this forward, this article looks at why we need to align them.

How to find a balance between culture and strategy

The key to balance is discovering if the existing culture is going to readily enable the strategy or not. Unless the strategy is written from the result of discussions and feedback across the entire workforce, it is likely that it will involve certain actions that are not considered universal priorities. This could therefore be of disinterest to some of the key stakeholders and negatively impact the success of the strategy.

The following considerations serve as a guide to design an inclusive strategy that leaves less room for a strong culture to jeopardise the success of a transformational project:

  • Align strategy with values – if each action of the strategy can lead to an outcome that is directly linked to the mission and vision, the importance of the task will be clearer, which, in turn, will increase motivation and participation within the team.
  • Set realistic targets based on known skills and behaviours – if the team does not have the capacity or skill set for project work, there will be resistance, which could cause delays, or scope and budget changes. It could be worth opting for a hands-off approach or looking to outsource this role.
  • Undertake an honest analysis and criticism of your culture before taking on a new direction to see if the current strategic approach will be possible within the remit of the culture – if the answer is no, it will be easier to adapt the approach of your strategy than to try and fight against an uncooperative culture.
  • Do not assume that a (good) strategy alone can fix holes in a (bad) culture – it may be that complementary workshops and training are needed to address aspects of the culture that the organisation wants to move away from.

Giving strategy a seat at the breakfast table

In summary, Drucker’s theory should not serve as a reason not to embark on a new project or introduce a strategy refresh. It should however serve as a reminder that when creating a strategic roadmap, the power and influence of the organisation’s culture should not be underestimated or overlooked. After all, Drucker also said that “change is the norm; unless an organization sees that its task is to lead change, that organization will not survive”; reminding us that change and transformation are essential to the success of the organisation, and that by letting the fear of a culture vs strategy face-off prevent leading change, it will also prevent all of the new opportunities that come with change.


Interested in content about culture and strategy? Join us for chase.livestream from September 8th to 10th for more great insights. The no1 leadership conference for the non-profit sector is fully virtual and free to attend.