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E17: Ruthlessly Focus Your Execution To Successfully Scale Impact

by Sean Boyce

Why you should ruthlessly focus your execution if you really want to scale impact at your organization.

What I talk about in this episode:
  • Why you should be ruthless in your focus
  • Execution should exclusively be about impact
  • Why nothing else really matters
  • Why people will be uncomfortable at first
  • How to make them feel more comfortable
  • What to do when the results start rolling in
  • The question to ask to know exactly what to do
If you’d like to learn how to scale impact at your nonprofit by more than double in less than half the time, sign up for my free 5 day email course
Episode Transcript

0:02 – Hey everyone, Sean here and today what I want to talk to you about is why I want you to be ruthless in protecting your execution related to impact if you truly and successfully want to be able to scale it.

0:27 – Now, the reason why I say this is because nonprofit leaders get busy and become burdened by so many things that they’re expected to manage at any given point in time. But if what you’re doing and investing time and resources into isn’t going to help you drive or successfully scale impact, then why are you investing time in it?

0:50 – This is a pretty radical mindset shift that nonprofit leaders might have to undergo in order to be able to shift to this type of strategy, but it can be one that can be done very successfully and we’ve seen many examples of that in books like Forces for Good where they follow the leaders of a dozen large nonprofit organizations that started small and rapidly scaled impact over a relatively short period of time. It was strategies like these that enabled them to be able to do that, where they were very protective over their time being invested and focused on execution. Everything that they were focused on being related to helping them successfully achieve a greater level of impact. At that point, none of the other things that you’re potentially investing time into, if they don’t drive impact are really all that important, by comparison, but again, this is a big mindset shift.

1:48 – In the beginning, when you try to do something like this or you try to nudge any of the members of your team in this as a direction it’ll be relatively uncomfortable for them. So you might get some resistance and pushback through questions. People may appear to be experiencing a little bit of discomfort because it’s a shift potentially in terms of the way they’ve always been doing things. It’s at the very foundation or the core of what it is, other members on the team in terms of how they’ve done work before. Maybe shifting under them ever so slightly. And that is a scary feeling or scary proposition for someone who has always held that as constant it’s always been a consistent, foundational kind of element for them.

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2:27 – Now, the work that I do as a consultant, as a soloist at NxtStep, where I’m helping nonprofit organizations with scaling impact through software, I am able to kind of reduce how significant the forest through the trees problem can be for someone like me, because I’m often an outsider, especially when I first start working with a nonprofit organization. So I have the benefit of having the perspective of the outside looking in and this is why I’m protective over that type of arrangement between myself and my clients. It’s because that perspective is healthy and valuable. For the period of time in which I am not considered kind of an internal team member or I’m not within the walls. I’m not going through the nine to five I’m not doing the day to day kind of stuff. I’m able to kind of have that outsider perspective and see with relatively unbiased or take an objective approach and ask questions like that and it’s not as jarring for an organization because I’m an outsider, right? So they might just be thinking, well, he doesn’t get it. He doesn’t understand how things work here. That’s probably not necessarily the case in almost every instance it isn’t, but they’re more open to that kind of feedback under that type of an arrangement. So I’ve been there plenty. Actually I’m there constantly, and it’s one of the things I enjoy most about the work that I do.

3:51 – What I’m trying to share with you is that you can achieve the same mindset and you can do so as a leader in a nonprofit organization, anywhere from if you’re just starting with the organization all the way to and through if you’ve been with the organization and you want to shift your mindset because you really want to help your organization make greater progress and scale impact this is a strategy that can work very effectively, but it’s got to be one that is done confidently and you have to be able to explain to the members of your team, why this is so important and why you’re doing it now, despite all of that, what might become discomfort for the team in this kind of more of an aggressive or direct shift in the beginning.

4:31 – Ultimately when the results materialize and your efforts pay off. That will speak volumes and it will connect the dots for everyone that might have been cautiously optimistic all the way to and through skeptical that this new direction or this push is ultimately going to lead to results. That’s why it’s also very important for you to share those results with your team and you can also go back and you could say hey, remember when we were deciding whether or not to go left and go or go right and we had always traditionally gone left and this time we went right and there was some skepticism or some uncertainty from people when we were deciding to do that? Well, here’s why we did that. And here are the results. Right? This is what we’re actually trying to do, right? We’re not trying to hold as many meetings as possible, right? We’re trying to cure childhood illiteracy or trying to pull people out of poverty. Right? That’s the mission of the organization. Your results may vary depending upon what your mission is, but there’s a lot of organizations that get bogged down by some of the output related stuff and aren’t focusing as intensely as they should on the successful outcome component.

5:41 – So this leads me to a question I think will be helpful for you if you’re excited by the potential of this strategy, but you’re unsure in terms of how to kind of get started or how to determine whether or not something you are doing today or your team is doing today whether or not that’s driving impact or you know, which which should you drop in favor of focusing ruthlessly on scaling impact at the execution level. Ask yourself this question. Whatever it is, you’re considering X, Y, and Z. Do these things drive impact?  Does focusing on and investing time and resources on these drive impact? If the answer to that question is no, or uncertain, then chances are you should probably stop doing it. If it’s uncertain. You try to validate it and if you can’t, the answer is no then it’s rather simple from there. It’s stop doing it and focus on the things that do drive impact.