Review – The Sustainability Mindset (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2014)
Reviewed by Don Tebbe
I pre-ordered this book as soon as I heard about it. I was expecting a sequel to Zimmerman and Bell’s earlier book, Nonprofit Sustainability. But The Sustainability Mindset is actually a successor to that important, earlier work. Available from Amazon.com.
My first impression is awe at the authors’ ability to pack so many rich ideas and useful tools into just 200 pages. Beyond the sage advice, I counted no less than 43 figures, 7 tables, 4 sample exhibits, 3 case studies and 23 templates.
The book walks you through a six-step sustainability planning process. As in their earlier work, the central tool of this book is the “matrix map,” a 2-axis, 4-quadrant table that plots the dual bottom-line of a nonprofit: mission impact and financial viability. The idea is that the leadership team assesses the organization’s programs and determines each program’s “profitability” and mission impact. The results are plotted on the matrix map, using circles that are scaled according to each program’s expenses. The composite map provides a comprehensive picture of the organization’s business model. See the example below.
The Nonprofit Leadership Transition and Development Guide covers not just the mechanics of the transition process but important related topics such as the opportunity to ensure leadership diversity, addressing founders and founder transitions, dealing with emotions during the transition process, succession planning, and leader development. The concluding chapter – Many Paths to a Leaderful Organization – sums up the book nicely. 384 pages, 9 chapters, 5 appendices and 15 tools. Available from Amazon.
Tim Wolfred is a long-time, key thought leader on the topic of nonprofit executive transitions. Organized around three phases – Prepare, Pivot, and Thrive – Tim provides practical advice on how to manage leadership turnover in ways that can heighten mission impact while avoiding potential downsides.
Prepare – board members, staff, volunteers, and funders engage in an efficient process for updating the agency’s strategic directions and crafting a profile of the skills needed in the next executive.
Pivot – a search ensues, conducted by a board reinvigorated and excited about the agency’s future impact.
Thrive – the board engages the newly hired executive as a leadership partner and gives him or her clear performance priorities derived from the strategic directions.
Managing Executive Transitions provides engaging case studies and hands-on tools such as planning agendas, timelines, sample letters, and communication tips will smooth the transition to new executive leadership. 165 pages, 6 chapters, 3 appendices and 28 tools. Available from Amazon.
The Community Action Partnership Sustainability Toolkit (Washington, DC: The Community Action Partnership, 2012)
The Community Action Partnership Sustainability Toolkit is a three-part series of succession and sustainability guides published by the Community Action Partnership, the national association for Community Action Agencies and their leaders. Although the guides were written with Community Action Agencies in mind, the principles apply to all nonprofits. They were designed to help leaders strengthen the capacity of their organizations, especially those organizations facing a CEO transition in the near future. Each of the guides can be used individually, but they can be used together to help leaders strengthen their organizations and manage leadership turnover.
The Organizational Sustainability Planning Guide is a tool for assessing and strengthening the areas critical to the organization’s long-term sustainability by conducting an organizational sustainability assessment and using the results to develop an organizational sustainability action plan. Click here for FREE download.
The Executive Succession Planning Guide provides an overview of three approaches to succession planning and presents a detailed approach for developing “succession essentials,” a board-adopted succession policy for the chief executive position and a companion emergency backup plan for the CEO position, but it can be adapted to other staff leadership positions as well. Click here for FREE download.
The Executive Transition Management Guide presents a three-phase approach for managing turnover in a leadership position, especially the CEO position. Click here for FREE download.
Nonprofit Executive Succession Planning Toolkit (Kansas City: Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, 2011)
Commissioned by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, this toolkit is a free resource for nonprofit boards of directors and executive leaders to effectively implement succession planning and overcome barriers.
Live Smart After 50!, by Natalie Eldridge
Two heads are better than one. So how about 33? Live Smart After 50! compiles advice from 33 retirement advice experts from the Life Planning Network. Live Smart After 50! offers a holistic perspective for retirement planning, covering a wide spectrum of issues central to your life during retirement.
Live Smart After 50! doesn’t shy away from topics that might make the reader uncomfortable. The section entitled, “Sex: Are Older People Doing It?” dispels some commonly-held myths about sexuality among older adults. In the “Your Wishes Matter” section, the author covers “things you would rather not think about,” with some common-sense advice for estate-planning, and items so obvious you might have missed them. Do you know who the beneficiaries are for your IRA? Have you reviewed that information in the past 10 years? The author of this section points out that a will alone is no longer considered sufficient estate-planning.
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Second Acts: Creating the Life You Really Want, Building the Career You Truly Desire, by Stephen M. Pollan
In Second Acts, life coach Stephen Pollan counsels his readers through the complicated process of beginning a new career. Pollan directs the reader to get a notebook and begin writing down the practical and emotional obstacles they need to overcome in pursuit of their goals. Second Acts makes a convincing case for planning instead of wishing. The author suggests that the reader may balk at the idea of “taking what should be a romantic adventure and turning it into a prosaic project.” But if you follow his thorough guide for planning your second act, you’ll have an invaluable resource for keeping yourself on task.
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The Encore Career Handbook: How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life, by Marci Alboher
You don’t have to feel alone as you plan your retirement. Author Marci Alboher wrote The Encore Handbook to encourage readers to make their personal journey a topic of conversation. If you look around, you’ll find many colleagues planning to find “purpose, passion, and a paycheck” after they retire. Each section of the handbook includes discussion points for group meetings. Appendix E offers complete meeting plans. Ideally, you should read this book as part of a retirement book club. You can use the Encore website (Encore.org) to find an Encore group in your area, if you can’t, create one out of your immediate network of friends and co-workers.
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Encore: Finding Work that Matters in the Second Half of Life, by Marc Freedman
In Encore, author Marc Freedman describes the unsustainable nature of the retirement culture today. Evaluating the size of the Baby Boomer generation, Freedman concludes that the current crop of retirees needs to carve out a new niche in the workforce to ensure both economic prosperity and the appropriate delegation of existing talent. Encore encourages the reader to consider what passions they could invest in a second career. To this end, Freedman quotes developmental psychologist Erick Erickson: “I am what survives of me.” Encore targets readers who want encouragement to make use of their talents for an impactful third act.
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