Organizations of all kinds need to focus on those activities that will have the greatest impact for the organization and its customers/beneficiaries. The following thought-provoking questions have been developed specifically for social enterprises, which must align their social impact and financial goals. The questions are based on a set of questions developed for small business owners by John Dini, a management expert.
1) In 2013, my organization will measure its social impact by changing (what) ____________________________________________ from _____ to _____. The mission of a social enterprise is to have a social impact. How will you know that you are achieving the desired result this year? What specifically is the desired impact? What is the one key metric that will tell you that you’re heading in the right direction?
2) Our revenues will increase/decrease from _____ to _____. Financial growth is important for a social enterprise, since it allows the organization to expand its impact and establish a strong foundation for the future.
3) Our net profit margin will go from _____% to _____%. Net profit margin is what’s left after all expenses have been paid. For a social enterprise, this provides working capital for expanding its impact. It also provides profits for the owners of a for-profit social enterprise.
4) The one most important improvement for this year that my customer/beneficiary will recognize is ____________________________________. Put yourself into the shoes of the customer/beneficiary of your organization. What will provide the greatest additional value? Focus on an improvement that can leverage existing strengths, is viable in the short-term and is sustainable in the long-term.
5) The one most important process improvement for this year is __________________________. Process efficiencies lead to greater alignment between social impact and long-term financial results.
6) The one most important leadership improvement for this year is ________________________. How will you improve the leadership team? Will you hire key people, develop managers, allow them to take on greater responsibilities, or implement improved management practices?
These questions do not replace other more thorough planning methodologies. They can, however, provide insights that can be incorporated into those plans, or act as a business plan executive summary. They can also help identify areas where there is a lack of clarity or focus.