Break through the Silos: How to Align Your Entire Organization Around a ‘Wildly Important Goal’
Every nonprofit intuitively recognizes that the experience we create for donors is directly tied to our ability to inspire them to give—which determines whether or not we achieve our goals.
And yet, many nonprofits are structured in a way that makes it difficult to create that integrated donor experience. Marketing and development work independently—or are at least measured differently. The annual fund team rarely collaborates with the major gift officers to identify opportunities to create synergy around the upgrade experience.
When organizations operate in a siloed mentality, it’s easy for individual departments to focus solely on their goals. Not only does this inhibit us from achieving our larger organizational objectives, it creates a disjointed donor experience that damages the perception our supporters have of our brand.
So how do you break down the silos without restructuring your entire organization? One of the most effective ways we’ve seen clients break down the silos that exist within their organization is by setting a wildly important goal.
Break through the Silos with a Single, Wildly Important Goal
What’s the best way to knock down a wall? Is it to hammer away at it incrementally in a dozen different areas? No! It’s to focus your strength and energy, all at once, on one specific area until you see the other side.
That same concept applies to breaking down the silos in your organization. Focusing the energy and effort of everyone in your organization around one single spot is the key to achieving breakthrough success.
At Pursuant, we’ve also embraced this idea by encouraging our partners to set a Wildly Important Goal (WIG). This is a phrase first coined in the book, “The 4 Disciplines of Execution,” authored by Chris McChesney, Jim Huling and Sean Covey.
Your various departments may be chasing a dozen desirable goals. Without a specific collective goal to drive the mission forward, teams often end up siloed and stuck in neutral.
A WIG is an incredibly effective way to break through the silos, shift gears and start moving the needle.
Creating Your WIG—Choosing the Right Battles to Win the War
The idea of a WIG is to focus your fundraising efforts on one goal that will make all the difference. It’s about collectively putting your time, strength and energy—and your organization’s heart—into achieving those goals. By narrowing your goals to one or two, you will give your team clarity: this is what we are trying to achieve.
Your time, strength and energy need to go here.
When organizations work in a siloed mentality, departments get so wrapped up in individual efforts or campaigns (battles) that they forget about the larger effort (the war).
As a result, battles might be won, but the overall war is lost. As you establish your WIG, you want to make sure all the battles you undertake (your lower level WIGs) are done to win the war (accomplishing your higher level WIG).
That means prioritizing the efforts that will have a direct impact on your WIG versus those that will not. Within the timeframe of your WIG, you may even need to sacrifice a few battles, so you can focus on the ones that will win the war. Think in possibility, and stretch yourself and your organization.
For example, what if your WIG was to increase revenue by 15 percent? In that scenario, the WIG is a big goal set at the top, and everything you do to work toward it will need to trickle down into your day-to-day processes.
What are the small, daily battles that you will need to win in order to win the war? In this scenario, revenue growth is the key focus and WIG. How would you work differently between teams like marketing, annual fund, mid-level gifts, major gifts or events? How would you approach acquisition or stewardship differently? What conversations would need to happen internally to rally around a “one number, one team” mantra? WIGs are a great unifier and conversation starter between teams. They allow teams to focus on the battles that, together, will win the war.
Thought-Starters to Help Identify Your WIG
As you read this, you’re probably already thinking about what your organization’s WIG is. Maybe your WIG came to you immediately. Or maybe you can think of 10 different goals that could be your WIG.
Don’t worry, struggling to find your WIG is normal. It’s harder than it initially seems. Whenever you’re thinking about your organization’s WIG, you need to be able to specifically measure the results of efforts. This is the key to success.
Are You Ready to Break Down the Silos and Achieve the Impossible?
Determining your WIG will not only help you break down silos, it will also help you address the other problem every nonprofit is trying to solve: building stronger connections with more donors.
By narrowing your focus to a wildly important goal, focusing everyone in your organization around that goal and committing to achieve it no matter what, you will discover the benefits of breaking down silos and transform your organization in a way you never thought possible. You will break through—and you’ll be amazed at what’s on the other side.