We provide considerable information on how to raise money, develop fee for service projects, and partner with funders for other than Independent Living funds. The struggle is getting it done. Everyone is already busy. Who has time to plan and execute a plan for a new project? Here are some tips for keeping your operations lean and strong and still finding ways to grow.

  1. Keep you mind wide open for ways to grow your center and its services. If you are at a national conference, on one of our webinars or otherwise rubbing elbows with your peers, listen to what they are doing and how they are funding it. Our most successful centers don’t stray too much from the core services but find ways to enrich those services to the benefit of their consumers. They are also willing to share their work, typically, as in policies or other information that will help you duplicate their efforts.
  2. In the Lean Startup world, the only way to find a solution to the problem you want to tackle is customer feedback. This Lean Startup model may serve you well. How does your CIL collect feedback from consumers? How do you gauge how successful your new idea will be? This is more than asking if they like your current services. You need to ask lots of people about their response to your potential idea, too. Then as the new project gets rolling, continue to collect feedback and adjust your program.
  3. Develop questions that are open enough to give you new ideas for growth and improvement. Get them out to as broad a group as you can. Don’t just ask your recent consumers. Are there other lists like past consumers, youth, service partners or more that can inform your new project and its growth.
  4. Turn to your mission for inspiration. If you are focused on your primary purpose, the impact you expect to have on your world, you will not be tempted into unrelated or less effective “side businesses”. You never want to take on a new project that is counter to Independent Living Philosophy. Keep your focus.
  5. Eliminate uncertainty. Take the time to map out your future, to measure your results, and to keep all stakeholders informed about your direction and success. This will help you to adhere tightly to the things that must be done, and to self-direct if a detour isn’t providing results.
  6. Utilize a plan-act-measure-plan cycle, or build/measure/learn. Be willing to continually self-correct based on measurable expectations for the organization.
  7. Think of this as more of an experiment model than a detailed blueprint model. What does an experiment do? It identifies an hypothesis and then measures to see if it is true or not. That way, as you learn what is working and not working, you can adjust your practices and try a new approach.

Thanks to Michelle Martin for her research on the New Century CIL Blog. For more on this topic:

 

Lean Startup Methodology (LSM). Created by Eric Ries, this process identifies ways for entrepreneurs to start a company quickly and efficiently.

http://www.plusacumen.org/courses/lean-for-social-impact

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If “Lean” is your dream – How can you grow your center with minimal staff and funding?

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