Protect Your Vision by Thinking Big

photo by Joshua Earle // Unsplash

photo by Joshua Earle // Unsplash

One of the most effective ways to protect a nonprofit’s vision is to help the stakeholders think bigger.

While some organizations get lost in the clouds of idealism, most get bogged down in the weeds of daily tedium – spreadsheets, emails, phone calls, appointments, and so forth. We get the work done, but we start losing sight of the big picture. And when we lose sight of the big picture, we don’t even consider the bigger picture of what is possible. 

Why Thinking Big Is Important

By opening stakeholders’ eyes to possibilities, you can help create greater buy-in and diminish the soul-suck syndrome that seems to plague so many for-profit and nonprofit organizations. A lot of times work becomes a drain because there is no connection to a higher, more unifying corporate purpose.

Connecting individuals to organizational possibilities is a powerful way to engender loyalty, especially when the individuals participate in the visioning process.

Thinking big corporately and teaching your stakeholders to think bigger as it relates to their roles in the organization should bind everyone more tightly under the vision.

Thinking Big as an Organization

It’s not easy to drive vision and think big as an organization, but when a corporation can pull it off, it’s a powerful thing.

Mission statements and vision pushes can often come across as inauthentic. The buy-in has to be from the top-down. The key is consistency and follow-through.

Here are some suggestions.

1. Repeat the Vision: Eyes roll at vision statements. Employees giggle and laugh and say, ‘here we go again.’  But that’s not the fault of the vision or the vision statement. The institution isn’t broken. Our consistent commitment to it is.  Figure out ways to repeat the vision and mission of your nonprofit. How can your mission infiltrate everything you do? How can you shift your messaging and branding to consistently use the terminology and language of your mission? 

2. Invite Feedback: Don’t be scared to ask your direct reports or other employees or volunteers how they view the vision. Do they see consistency between the lip service and the actual service? What would they love to see the organization go after?

3. Think Big Sessions: This suggestion might fall into the same category as trust falls and ropes courses, but why not spend a relaxed afternoon where everyone is invited to dream big for your nonprofit? If you were clicking on all cylinders, how much ground could you take? How could you bring the most change for the community you’re called to?

Practicing ‘Thinking Big’ will, no doubt, strengthen culture overall.

Thinking Big as Individuals

While thinking big corporately protects vision by reminding everyone why they are doing the work and just what the organization can accomplish, helping the individuals within the organization think bigger for themselves also protects your vision.

Has a manager ever asked you, “Where would you like to be in 5 years? What about your current work really excites you? If you were doing work that you were both good at and passionate about within this organization, what would your job description be?”

Check out the ‘Staying Current’ episode of The Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast for a great way to start implementing how to help your stakeholders think bigger.  Stanley discusses performance reviewing and an informal way of gaining insight and encouraging leaders to provide feedback.

You might ask an employee those questions and get a blank stare in return, but the future leaders of your organization will love it. And if you actually train them to think about how they individually can grow (and then provide access to the right tools), you’ll develop an army of loyal individuals who will help grow the nonprofit.

That said, you might also instill a bit of the entrepreneurial spirit in your young leaders. And they might head off to different opportunities. But the time they spend with you will be so much the better for having taken the time to encourage them to think bigger for themselves and for your nonprofit.

Why I, the Insurance Man, care about this stuff…

If your people care more about the corporate vision and mission and if they care more about growing individually, then risk management starts taking care of itself.

If they love where they work, then they’ll treat it with more care and respect. They’ll honor protocols and safety procedures. It simply trickles down to most areas.


What are your thoughts? Do you think ‘Thinking Bigger’ is important to protecting and fulfilling the vision of your nonprofit?



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