Saturday, May 21, 2011

Risk Management ... looking at strategic direction

Here is an example from the Charity Commission's document 'Charity's and Risk Management' It is such a good publication that I will be taking a lot of information from it and talking to the examples.

This first example has identified a potential risk as: the charity lacks direction, strategy and forward planning

With the potential impact as

  • The charity drifts with no clear objectives, priorities or plans;
  • Issues are addressed piecemeal with no strategic reference;
  • Needs of beneficiaries not fully addressed;
  • Financial management difficulties; and
  • Loss of reputation.

And the steps to mitigate this risk identified as

  • Create a strategic plan which sets out the key aims, objectives and policies;
  • Create financial plans and budgets;
  • Use job plans and targets;
  • Monitor financial and operational performance
  • Get feedback from beneficiaries and funders
Whilst I think that these are good steps to take, in reality they are probably not the first. And they are certainly anxiety-provoking for smaller organisations such as our congregations, fellowships and societies that do not have staff with responsibilities to undertake these tasks.

So how do we start thinking about this thing called strategic direction and how do we enthuse all trustees (committee members) to commit to doing something about it when life is full enough just keeping the show on the road?

If you your organisation has staff, in particular a chief officer, the board/trustees can work with the chief officer to produce a strategic plan with a clear strategic direction. This then informs the work of all the staff and as the Charity Commission example shows it can be translated into job plans and targets.

If there are no staff then you need to start small and look at those things which vex your community - it may be the building, it may be how information is produced and delivered, it may be financial or it may be about young people. People need to think about what they need or want to work on. Then you need to dream and ask what would you like to achieve in one, three and five years' time? Be mindful of the pace of change over the past few years and don't under-commit or over-commit to change. As ever when following a plan, keep managing the process and change the goals if need be.

Then commit what you have agreed on paper - an action plan, which I did promise to write about, so this will be my next post. Ensure that everyone has a copy of the plan and keep people updated. Make much of how helpful it is in driving action and when the time allows look to other areas and plan for the future there.

When doing anything with organisations there's the best practice and there's the pragmatic approach of doing what is achievable. My view is that as long as you are committed to change and development; are committed to working together; and are committed to working with the highest integrity then you will make good decisions.

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