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Executives And  Strategic  Thinking V3.2
 

Executives And Strategic Thinking V3.2

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The reason there is a need for strategic thinking is quite simple; things change. What the organization did yesterday quickly becomes a distant past as new opportunities and challenges continually ...

The reason there is a need for strategic thinking is quite simple; things change. What the organization did yesterday quickly becomes a distant past as new opportunities and challenges continually emerge. Non-profit executives are learning, like those in the Business sector, they can no longer rely solely on the annual multi-day strategy meeting to provide the guidance required for the ever-changing environment in which their organizations function. It is also essential to recognize the role which creativity and conceptual thinking play and to investigate how conceptual models contribute a framework necessary for strategic thinking. It is this critical step, the development and use of conceptual models that is the subject of this investigation.

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    Executives And  Strategic  Thinking V3.2 Executives And Strategic Thinking V3.2 Document Transcript

    • Using Conceptual Models to Improve an Executive’s Strategic Thinking By James NeilsThe reason there is a need for strategic thinking is quite simple; things change. What the organization did yesterdayquickly becomes a distant past as new opportunities and challenges continually emerge. For example, the Internet oncea challenge has become a driving force that influences how non-profits advertise, market, communicate and carry outtheir missions. Now visible beyond their specific audiences non-profits attract attention world wide, which seems to beboth an opportunity and a threat. Members or constituents can easily communicate to the Board, executives and staffwhile potential members, sponsors or donors may turn away from web sites that are outdated, not easy to use or whichlack information they seek.Non-profit executives are learning, like those in the Business sector, they can no longer rely solely on the annual multi-daystrategy meeting to provide the guidance required for the ever-changing environment in which their organizations function.In todays Internet paced environment in-addition to the annual comprehensive strategy session, the responsibility forstrategic thinking has shifted to the executive and staff. As a result, strategic thinking has moved to the forefront of skillsan executive must be able to competently demonstrate.How do current and aspiring executives develop and maintain the skill of strategic thinking? How do executives develop acadre of staff equally skilled and capable? There is no single answer. Executives may need to realign their perspective,their skills or emphasis on strategic thinking. For some it may mean a minor shift in their thinking or use of staff while forothers it could mean a significant change in the manner in which they work, delegate as well as respond to events andissues.To help an executive develop and/or improve their strategic thinking skill it is important to review common characteristicsand to recognize the challenges to becoming a strategic thinker. It is also essential to recognize the role which creativityand conceptual thinking play and to investigate how conceptual models contribute a framework necessary for strategicthinking. It is this critical step, the development and use of conceptual models that is the subject of this investigation.The Existing ChallengesThe life of any non-profit executive, and their staff for that matter, seems to be one of constant response. Evidenced bysimply reading trade magazines and journals, executives are expected to react and develop programs and services tomeet the organization’s mission and what is commonly considered member or constituent needs; regardless of thefrequency at which these needs change. Each month there is at least one article on the importance of those needs andthe consequences when they are not met.As noted in the literature, to understand the demands and to formulate an appropriate response to member, constituent orsocietal needs, data is gathered through surveys, focus groups while consultants and committee gather information toreview. Once the data and information is collected it becomes the responsibility of the executive and selected staff toprepare a plan. At which point, executives may turn to colleagues, friends or consultants.Briscoe researched how well executives used advice and discovered a larger problem. He found it was not simply how anexecutive used the information but more importantly, whether the executive selected the most appropriate people to
    • provide assistance. He concluded to improve an executive’s strategic thinking, they needed to consider the type of advicebeing sought and from whom.Research by Ciampas discovered many executives lack the basic framework to aid their thinking. While executives mayseek assistance, he found they had no plan or reference markers to use to identify appropriate sources, to solicit specificassistance or to evaluate the usefulness of the advice or information. This trait seems common to many personnel inorganizations from the smallest non-profit to large Federal government departments.There is also a significant difference between gathering information and the thinking that makes the information useful.Bellinger points out "While information entails an understanding of the relations between data, it generally does notprovide a foundation for why the data is what it is, nor an indication as to how the data is likely to change over time." Dataand information must fit into a process. When information begins to be connected into patterns or frameworks, which isthen connected to previous experiences, the process of strategic thinking is possible.A Shift in ThinkingRecognizing the vast amount of information that is available and the temptation to seek out more data and informationhow does an executive move from data gathering to strategic thinking? Martin recently suggested associations could playan important role to assist members and “Provide analysis, letting members know the implications.” (ASAE Spring 2007)While a worthy undertaking it also seems like a daunting task, expecting staff to communicate the implications aboutproblems the member’s encounter. It is doubtful many associations could even provide such service given the significantdifference between the current emphasis on the administrative skills needed for day-to-day association management andthe necessary shift to personnel with analytic skills required to provide the service.Until that shift of staff skills occurs, it would seem more productive to teach executives about strategic thinking so they cananalyze and solve the problems they encounter. Further, adding more data or information may simply become a problemin itself, and is counter productive to both the solution and the process of learning to be a strategic thinker. One of theskills required it would seem is learning what and how much data to use, when to move from collection to thinking andfrom thinking to problem solving.Strategic thinking implies a search to understand what and a desire to ask why. To understand what, involvesdetermining whether the issue is an opportunity or threat, identifying the risks and rewards and measuring whether it isconsistent to the organizations mission. Recent literature has sufficiently illustrated how the SWOT and TOWS modelscan and should become part of strategic analysis and management. But strategic thinking is also about asking why.In recent years there has been great emphasis to teach executives, in particular, to think "outside-the-box." Why teachpeople to think outside the box? One reason, as Lessor points out, is that strategic thinking, asking why, does not havelimits. Strategic planning may limit options into a workable plan of action, but strategic thinking is focused on why it is andwhat it could become. To the question of why teach executives and staff to think "outside-the-box", it might be better toask: why do they get "inside-the-box" to think? Why an executive would limit and teach staff to limit their thinking to findsolutions to problems is a question which deserves greater attention, but it certainly seems counter productive to theresponsibility of leadership.Creativity BoundariesWriters on the subject of strategic thinking agree it is inherently linked to creativity. Innovation, changes in procedures ornew approaches imply some sort of creativity occurred in the thinking process. Unfortunately, there are a number ofbarriers that can hinder development of creativity among executives and staff.
    • Bilton (2006) noted creativity is often viewed as being characteristic of people who are individualistic, are not "team"oriented and/or are unmanageable. Browse any management section in a bookstore and the titles send a similarmessage - learn how to manage creativity to get the most out of it. Is that not a contradiction? The private sector andnon-profits spend considerable funds on programs devoted to teaching their executives and staff how to be creativethinkers, but at the same time often fail to recognize and reward them for unique solutions or ideas. Perhaps creativity isdesired and expected, just not too much creativity.Research on creativity and strategic thinking further suggests repetition is an important factor to improving these skills.Studies also indicate that the timing between the learning and use is critical. Attending a seminar on strategic thinking willbe most useful, if the application of the learning is immediate or nearly so. Consistent with other learning, as the timebetween the learning of new skills and the application of those new skills increases, the usefulness of the learningdecreases. As a result, some have suggested executives practice thinking strategically on smaller day-to-day issues andnot wait for more serious issues to emerge. Repetition and daily practice is a good way to begin to make strategicthinking part of the routine thought process.The Path Less TraveledIn his article "A Framework for Strategic Thinking" Kevin Yousie defined and identified characteristics attributable tostrategic thinking. Paraphrasing, he defined strategic thinking as " a mindset" which has a "set of processes" and a "rangeof competencies" to take advantage of "opportunities" to further the mission and direction of the organization.His definition implies that strategic thinking is more than a task to be performed. Indeed, he and most others see strategicthinking as a perspective, a way of looking at issues that is larger and more analytic than finding solutions. Writers alsoagree that thinking becomes strategic when one examines why and how it is important to the mission of the organization.As important, is the attributes associated with strategic thinking. One frequently cited attribute is the need for everyone inthe organization, not only the executive, to be capable and skilled in strategic thinking. Collectively their role is todetermine which issues are more important than others, which will be the most helpful and/or harmful to the organizationand to consider appropriate responses to those issues. Just as the process of an annual strategy session has evolvedto become a skill set of the executive, so too must the executive realize they can no longer go alone and must be willingand able to develop a staff skilled in strategic thinking.The daily work demands may give rise to the notion that executives and staff have little time to learn and practice strategicthinking. From this perspective, becoming a strategic thinker would seem like an impossible task. Daily administrativework may not seem strategic, but any task can provide the occasion to question and to reason. Developing creativeand/or strategic thinking skills is a journey not a seminar or workshop. Contrary to what executives may believe, thereare numerous opportunities to think strategically.For instance, the organization’s conference planner proposes a new registration deadline expecting to decrease thenumber of members who register late or on-site. This is an opportunity for the executive to think and to teach staff to thinkstrategically by identifying all the resources that might be involved or affected by the decision. It is more than proposing anew date, for it involves how the organization utilizes personnel to make the decision, to carry out the changes and all thecosts to successfully implement the change. It is also about thinking whether the return on the staff time and related costcould be better spent on a different more productive project that more directly supports the organization’s mission.Strategically, one of the more important resources an organization possesses is staff and staff time. A responsibility ofleadership is to identify how strategic resources can be best used and staff time is often, unfortunately, not viewed as a
    • strategic resource. It is not inexhaustible, though Boards, committees and even executives seem to think it is. So theexercise of thinking about and teaching staff how to think about the use of staff time is strategic. It is also an exercise thatshould be carried on at the Board and committee level as well.A change to the conference fee deadline may not be strategic but the process of thinking through the decision can be.Further, it can help staff learn how to see the larger picture and to engage in thinking about whether it would help orhinder the organization carry out or meet its mission. Whether the decision to change a process would consume preciousstaff and executive time is determined, in some ways by whether strategic thinking is routine throughout the organization.Models on the RunwayWhile incremental and repetitive activities provide the necessary practice, it is the conceptual model that serves as thebuilding block to develop strategic thinking. Research on conceptual models and thinking suggests combining the twohelps to facilitate retention and makes understanding more meaningful. Because concepts often utilize visualrepresentations, people tend to remember concepts more easily than numerous facts.To illustrate the power of conceptual thinking, take a moment to consider the title of this section, Models on the Runway.For most readers it is quite easy to create a visual image for those four words. Some might have picture fashion modelsexhibiting clothing on a runway, for some it might be model airplanes on an airport runway and some may even picturefashion models on an airport runway. The resulting image is far richer in content than the text. In the same way,conceptual models about management and organizations allow the executive the opportunity to interpret and definerelationships that text might not be able to detail. Some times conceptual models can be more appropriate to studydifficult problems than data in the form of numbers or text. In fact, studies of brain functions report much of decision-making is a result of connecting various conceptual mental models and previous events into the understanding needed fora decision.Regardless of how well executives currently work with conceptual models, they may soon be expected to develop and usemodels to reflect the political, economic and/or administrative environments within their organizations. There are non-profit organizations which already have incorporated conceptual models into their philosophy and management to thepoint they actively teach members and constituents how to develop conceptual models. The World Wildlife Fund, forexample, provides a sourcebook that instructs members and others how to build a practical conceptual model for wildlifemanagement projects. The guide explains why conceptual models are important tools to use to meet the standardsestablished by the organization and how the models are used on projects and programs that further the organizationsmission.In Need IndeedConceptual models need not be complicated or difficult to build and can be adapted from others already in use. Toillustrate how, consider the issues facing the executive of an association of farm managers. The executive faced decliningmembership, demands for a change with the board, changes to the core member base, criticism of the content to theannual conference program offerings and demands by suppliers for a better return on their support to the association.The association asked three consultants to consider the following: board representation, relevant and improved programsand services, significant changes to member demographics, decline in revenues and finally, erosion among members andstaff attitudes about the organization’s future. In the end the consultants responded with a variety of tactical solutions butnot a strategic plan to implement. This is because, whether identified in a job description or not, it is the executive who,as the organization’s chief strategist, must lead the organization through the crises.
    • In this case it would have been helpful for the executive to have a model to be able to explain to the board, members andstaff what had happened and why changes were needed. The issue for the executive was not simply to proposesolutions, but get the various groups to agree to the changes. To accomplish this, the various groups must identify andaccept the value of the solutions and to recognize the executive has taken their concerns, their roles and their “needs” intoconsideration in the process of finding solutions. In other words, the executive needs something to help with theeconomic, the social and the political forces acting within and on the organization.Relevant ModelsOver the years social scientists have become adept at constructing models to help define and identify the dynamics oforganizations and or individuals. One model seems particularly relevant to this case study and to non-profit organizationsin general. In 1943, Abraham Maslow authored “Motivation and Personality” in which he posited his theories regardingneeds and motivation and created what has since become commonly known as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. While notsuggesting that specific needs of an individual correlate to those needs found within and acting on a non-profitorganization, there are striking similarities, which make the use of his conceptual model useful.Consider first, the role that needs and motivation might have played in the formation of any non-profit organization orassociation. Whether it was to advance a profession, to set or improve standards, or to serve others, numerousassociations and non-profits owe their beginning to a single individual or small group who were motivated to act on aperceived need with such passion others joined as well.Beyond the formative role, professional needs seem to particularly dominate the literature regarding non-profitmanagement and executive responsibilities. There are two reasons needs seem so important: first, organizations arelegal entities and second, because they serve and are served by people. To carry out the mission organizations usuallyhave offices which require heat, electricity, furniture and people. Regardless of the mission, purpose or size, everyorganization is a collection of people who possess their own personal set of needs, objectives and beliefs. When broughttogether to fulfill the organization’s mission these same people develop a collective set of beliefs about what should bedone to meet the organization’s mission as well as their personal needs.Motivation is no less important. Members are motivated to action and they expect, push and, at times, demand theirorganizations meet organization and personal goals and/or objectives. Without motivation members would probably notrefer new members, would not serve on committees and would not create and lead seminars and programs.As other professions have already discovered, Maslows theory is simple to teach, adaptable for many uses and does notimpose limits or boundaries in application or usefulness. The fields of architecture, marketing, business, management,human resources and other disciplines have not been shy about adapting his conceptual model for their use. His originalwork featured seven levels but a more common representation involves just five levels. This simplified version serves as aframework for a model that can be used by executives of non-profit organizations, particularly member basedassociations. Self Actualization Esteem, Learning, Aesthetics Love and Belonging Safety and Security Food, Shelter, Sex, Clothing & Sleep
    • Imitation by DesignBy simply changing the labels in the five levels of the pyramid, the model seems to fit many non-profit organizations andthe particular case study about a member based association. Mission Programs and Services Membership and Belonging Administration and Management Incorporation, By-laws and the Board GovernanceReviewing the Organizational Hierarchy model shown in its simplest vertical form it contains the primary management andfunctional administrative areas which operate in most non-profit organizations. At the base are the legal aspectsnecessary for the organizations survival: Incorporation, By-laws and the Board. The second level contains Administrationand Management because organizations must have order, consistency, rules and effective procedures and policies.These first two levels tend to be more organizationally oriented while those above are more directed at persons served bythe organization.In the next three higher levels the emphasis changes from the legal and management functions to the actions andactivities designed to fulfill the mission of the organization. The Membership and Belonging level is next and where theorganization seeks to develop a sense of cohesion with and among members or constituents. One level higher is thePrograms and Services stage where the organization is focused, hopefully to carry out its mission. At its peak, similar toMaslow’s level of Self-Actualization, is Mission. When the organization reaches this level it is, at a particular point in time,effectively managed, achieving its goals and purposes and strongly connected to members and or constituents who havea real sense of belonging and purpose with the organization. It is fulfilling its Mission.Forces at WorkUnlike Maslow’s theory, in which individuals seek to satisfy needs at one level prior to moving to the next set of needsabove, the proposed Organizational Hierarchy model is quite different and more dynamic. Internal and external forcesconstantly provide opportunities and also challenge an organization’s ability to sustain the effort needed to fulfill itsmission. While it is entirely possible for an organization to initially develop the administrative and program levels tosuccessfully carry out its mission, whether it remains at mission level is determined by a third force, the Competency ofthe personnel and the Flexibility of the structure to respond to opportunities and threats. This third force, governs whetherthe organization will remain at Mission level or be challenged at some level that will require organizational attention to fixthe problem.Expanding the perspective from a one sided of a pyramid to that of looking down from above on a three dimensionalpyramid and it becomes possible to view how Competency and Flexibility as well as the External and Internal forces fitinto the completed model. Internal Forces Competency Flexibility
    • External ForcesAt first it would seem as though Competency and Flexibility would be an Internal Force and in some ways it is. But it isalso more than an Internal Force as defined by management models such as SWOT or TOWS which tend to view themas situational. Competency and Flexibility is about the culture of the organization and its administrative structure. Competency Mission Flexibility Programs and Services Membership and Belonging Administration and Management Incorporation, By-laws and the Board GovernanceFor example, Best Practices suggest most boards should not be larger than ten members, yet there are many boardsmuch larger. Should the need arise for a new executive, the existence of a large board may preclude some highlycompetent executives from considering the position, as it is a reflection of both the culture and inflexibility of theorganization to adopt Best Practices.The measure of Competency and Flexibility is why some organizations function well and others do not. When thestructure of the organization either by design within the incorporation and/or bylaws documents or in the administrativefunctions in the form of policies and/or procedures inhibits members, constituents, staff, programs or services from beingable to respond appropriately then the organization will find it difficult to either reach or sustain Mission fulfillment.Additionally, when personnel, including boards, do not possess the skill and/or talent, have the appropriate tools orequipment, or a combination of these factors required to respond to an opportunity or threat that too will affect the abilityof the organization to maintain its Mission. Which is why, at times, an organization will, in response to an internal orexternal force, find it necessary to request assistance outside of the organization in the form of consultants or companiesto provide the appropriate products or services. Whether it does is determined by the Competency of the decision makersto recognize the need and level of competency and the general willingness to bring in someone from the “outside.”Model ApplicationReturning to the case study, consider how the model might have helped the executive and others within the association.First, it would have provided a framework which Ciampras and others have suggested is a necessary feature in decisionmaking. Having the framework would also have helped place the numerous issues into workable categories to prevent allof the challenges from becoming overwhelming. It could have also provided a common frame of reference from which theexecutive, staff, board, members and the consultants, brought in to assist the association, could think not only tactically ofsolutions but strategically about the future role and responsibilities of the association.It is interesting to note that the comments by the consultants validate the applicability of the Organizational Hierarchymodel since their responses focused on specific levels within the model and the importance of organizational Competencyand Flexibility. Summarizing their responses; the first consultant suggested the executive review the management of theBoard, the membership and the programs and services. The second consultant advised the executive to addressmembership issues and identify similarities and differences; the member’s sense of belonging and their assimilation into
    • the Association. The final panelist recommended the executive work on the organization’s culture, the community of staff and members; and organizational acceptance to change, in other words Competency and Flexibility. The use of a conceptual model could have also helped the executive confront highly charged political and emotional issues such as the demands to change board representation and to provide relevant programs. Helping the board understand, particularly one that has experienced few changes, and then to agree to change representation is a not a task many executives might wish to take on. Without a conceptual framework which all parties can reference as changes occur or to help a board see how the plan will function would seem to make the task considerably more difficult. Learn to Model While conceptual models may be simple in design they can illustrate complex situations. Consider the relationship that exists between members, vendors, and the organization at the Program and Services level and how it can be visually illustrated. A model would need to show how Members interface with the Association and Vendors both of which provide services to members commonly identified as "benefits" as well as the relationship between the Board and Vendors. Additionally, the model would need to be able to differentiate that while each party may join together within the organization each is its own entity. Finally, this model would have to depict the relationship within the Organizational Hierarchy model. Looking down on the Program and Services level this model shows what was just described in text. Internal Forces Competency and Flexibility Organization Member duesDerived Non-dues revenueBenefits Members Vendors External Forces Another frequent topic in articles and at seminars involves member participation. Why do some members decide to participate and other not? Why would anyone deliberately choose to take on more work and responsibilities? Why would a person be willing to: stand and deliver a speech, to lead a seminar, to spend time in committee meetings or perform a task they might otherwise delegate to others? Why are they motivated to these actions? While not providing answers, simply comparing Maslow’s and Organizational Hierarchies does evoke a thought provoking perspective. Maslow Hierarchy of Needs Organizational Hierarchy Self-Actualization Mission Learning – Self Esteem - Esteem Programs and Services Belonging Membership Conclusions and Applicability for Executives Prior to the current Information/data Revolution, when the pace of business was generally governed by the delivery of posted mail, responding to an internal or external force was slower, as was the pace of strategic thinking and the resulting decision making. Now with high speed computers, the ease of massive data collection/retrieval and the Internet which continues to accelerate the pace, the speed at which an organization must be able to respond has become more
    • immediate which is why Competency and Flexibility has become more important. As a result, strategic thinking hasmoved to the forefront of skills for executives and the staff.The true power of adapting conceptual models, whether it is Maslow’s or others, lies within the model’s ability to displaycomplex situations, relationships and forces operating within and on non-profit organizations. As shown, conceptualmodels can play a powerful role, particularly within non-profit organization which can draw upon the expertise and testedmodels from business, academia and colleagues.Strategic thinking is about thinking, considering and asking, what and why. Strategic thinking is far more than solvingproblems. It is a skill that takes practice to improve and there are barriers which can hinder its development. Yet,increasingly, all organizations are recognizing that their survival rests on the ability and performance of the executive’sand staff’s abilities to engage in strategic thinking.The primary role of the executive is leadership. To be able with staff to strategically think through issues and produce aprocess that unites the board, members, staff ad others to meet the Mission of the organization is leadership for whichexecutives are held responsible.The challenge for the executive is more than simply attending a seminar to acquire a skill. Most of the authors on strategythinking have reached the conclusion that it is the mindset of the executive which ultimately determines the success ofstrategic thinking within an organization. Harry Summers, a noted US Defense Department analyst was more direct. Hebelieves executives who have a drive to investigate, to inquire and to question will be successful in strategic thinking andlacking that drive chances of success diminish.To have an organization capable of functioning at Mission level on consistent level while meeting the internal and externalchallenges is a testament to the skills and foresight of the executive, the staff and others who serve the organizationeveryday. No small part in their thinking is the conceptual models which help them connect the information toexperiences to form the foundation of strategic thinking.CommentaryOne final comment should be included regarding the applicability of Abraham Maslow and the importance of his works tonon-profit organizations. In his later years Maslow served as a consultant to a number of companies and non-profitsorganizations. During his time with NonLinear Systems, Inc., he maintained a now published journal. In his writing heraised one question which every non-profit board, executive and staff member should remember: …most of us would argue that we believe in the potential of people and that people are our most important organizational assets. If that is the case, why then do we frequently design organizations to satisfy our need for control and not to maximize the contributions of people?”
    • End NotesGene Bellinger, The Value of Knowledge Management, Business and Organization, Knowledge Management,www.systems-thinking.org/index.htm, 2004, p2.Kevin Yousie, What, Why, How? A framework for Strategic Thinking, Banff Centre, 2007, pp.1-2.Abraham Maslow with Deborah Stevens and Gary Heil, Maslow on Management, John Wiley New York, NY 1998. p. ResourcesStan Abraham, Stretching strategic thinking, Journal of Strategy and Leadership, 2005, No. 5 Vol. 33, pp5-12Air War College, Resource Guide, Air University, www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/awc-thkg.htmAir War College, Competencies and Skills, Air University, www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/awc-thkg.htmBrice Alford, The need for Strategic Thinking is Critical for Effective Continuous Improvement, EZine Articles,Peter Banks, The marketing landscape has changed, Associations Now, American Society of AssociationExecutives/Center for Association Leadership, February 2007, Vol. 3, No. 2. pp. 35-40.Gene Bellinger, The Value of Knowledge Management, Business and Organization, Knowledge Management,www.systems-thinking.org/index.htm, p2. 2004,Ingrid Bonn, Developing strategic thinking as a core competency, Journal of Management Decision, Emerald PublishersApril 2001 No. 1 Vol 3 pp. 63-70Bernard Boar, Strategic thinking for information technology, John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1997,Scott Briscoe, A Piece of Advice, Associations Now, American Society of Association Executives/Center for AssociationLeadership, March 2007, Vol. 3, No. 3. pp. 46-49.CA magazine.com What Strategy is – and isn’t, Sept 2002, www.camagazine.com/index.cfm/ci_id/9654/la_id/htmCenter for Applied Research, What is Strategic Thinking, Briefing Notes, CFAR, Cambridge, MA, 2001, www.cfar.comKristen Clarke, A whole new mindset, Associations Now, American Society of Association Executives/Center forAssociation Leadership, June 2007, Vol. 3, No. 7. pp. 25-28.Jeffery Cufaude, Playing with Possibilities, Convene, PCMA, February 2007, p30.Darden, Chapter 1 Strategic Thinking, University of Virginia, http://faculty/darden.viriginia.edu/bourgeois/files/chapter%201.html
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    • Mr. Neils’ career includes management and executive positions in for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. Early in his career, he returned to academia and became interestedin researching organizational goals, performance measures and financial returns on non-profit organizations. Although his published works are often directed toward non-profits,his concepts and analysis are equally applicable to for-profits as well.As his career progressed, Mr. Neils recognized the day-to-day demands on executives,especially managers’, were most often at the tactical decision level, leaving little time toimprove or develop strategic skills. As a result, he developed a keen interest in strategicthinking.His first work was Using Conceptual Models to Improve an Executive’s StrategicThinking. This paper was a theoretical exploration of conceptual models and strategicthinking. Adapting Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Social Needs” Mr. Neils examinedhow internal and external forces act on organizations and executives.Following that, he began to investigate how executives might integrate creativity as away to improve strategic thinking skills. This second article Creativity, StrategicThinking and Statistical Models questions how commonly used statistic models andcreativity might aid an executive’s and staff’s skill to think strategically.Because of the interest generated from these articles, he began to investigate howmanagers and executives learned to think strategically. His research found mostemphasis to be on attributes of strategic thinking people and the need to think strategic,but little on teaching methodology. This prompted, Developing the Skill of StrategicThinking in which he suggests flowcharting as a possible method to teach staff, managersand executives to become strategic thinkers.Mr. Neils’ recently completed, What non-profits can learn from the Obama Campaignargues the need for non-profits to improve their use of data and data analysis and makesspecific recommendations to follow.Mr. Neils belongs to several LinkedIn groups on non-profit management, strategicthinking and performance measures. He can be reached at James.neils@gmail.com andskype at James.neils1 and sponsors a Twitter page called nonprofitsage.
    • Mr. Neils’ career includes management and executive positions in for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. Early in his career, he returned to academia and became interestedin researching organizational goals, performance measures and financial returns on non-profit organizations. Although his published works are often directed toward non-profits,his concepts and analysis are equally applicable to for-profits as well.As his career progressed, Mr. Neils recognized the day-to-day demands on executives,especially managers’, were most often at the tactical decision level, leaving little time toimprove or develop strategic skills. As a result, he developed a keen interest in strategicthinking.His first work was Using Conceptual Models to Improve an Executive’s StrategicThinking. This paper was a theoretical exploration of conceptual models and strategicthinking. Adapting Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Social Needs” Mr. Neils examinedhow internal and external forces act on organizations and executives.Following that, he began to investigate how executives might integrate creativity as away to improve strategic thinking skills. This second article Creativity, StrategicThinking and Statistical Models questions how commonly used statistic models andcreativity might aid an executive’s and staff’s skill to think strategically.Because of the interest generated from these articles, he began to investigate howmanagers and executives learned to think strategically. His research found mostemphasis to be on attributes of strategic thinking people and the need to think strategic,but little on teaching methodology. This prompted, Developing the Skill of StrategicThinking in which he suggests flowcharting as a possible method to teach staff, managersand executives to become strategic thinkers.Mr. Neils’ recently completed, What non-profits can learn from the Obama Campaignargues the need for non-profits to improve their use of data and data analysis and makesspecific recommendations to follow.Mr. Neils belongs to several LinkedIn groups on non-profit management, strategicthinking and performance measures. He can be reached at James.neils@gmail.com andskype at James.neils1 and sponsors a Twitter page called nonprofitsage.
    • Mr. Neils’ career includes management and executive positions in for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. Early in his career, he returned to academia and became interestedin researching organizational goals, performance measures and financial returns on non-profit organizations. Although his published works are often directed toward non-profits,his concepts and analysis are equally applicable to for-profits as well.As his career progressed, Mr. Neils recognized the day-to-day demands on executives,especially managers’, were most often at the tactical decision level, leaving little time toimprove or develop strategic skills. As a result, he developed a keen interest in strategicthinking.His first work was Using Conceptual Models to Improve an Executive’s StrategicThinking. This paper was a theoretical exploration of conceptual models and strategicthinking. Adapting Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Social Needs” Mr. Neils examinedhow internal and external forces act on organizations and executives.Following that, he began to investigate how executives might integrate creativity as away to improve strategic thinking skills. This second article Creativity, StrategicThinking and Statistical Models questions how commonly used statistic models andcreativity might aid an executive’s and staff’s skill to think strategically.Because of the interest generated from these articles, he began to investigate howmanagers and executives learned to think strategically. His research found mostemphasis to be on attributes of strategic thinking people and the need to think strategic,but little on teaching methodology. This prompted, Developing the Skill of StrategicThinking in which he suggests flowcharting as a possible method to teach staff, managersand executives to become strategic thinkers.Mr. Neils’ recently completed, What non-profits can learn from the Obama Campaignargues the need for non-profits to improve their use of data and data analysis and makesspecific recommendations to follow.Mr. Neils belongs to several LinkedIn groups on non-profit management, strategicthinking and performance measures. He can be reached at James.neils@gmail.com andskype at James.neils1 and sponsors a Twitter page called nonprofitsage.