At this time of year we celebrate our tradition of asking meaningful questions - specifically the four questions at the Passover Seder. We all know the questions to ask during Passover. They - and their answers - are in the Haggadah.
But what about situations where we aren't told which questions to ask? How do those of us charged with governance and management of nonprofit Jewish camp know the right questions to focus on to ensure superior performance?
Focusing on the most meaningful questions is a critical task of any organization's leadership. Camp is no exception.
What questions does your camp leadership ask regularly to be sure camp is as effective as possible now and in the future?
For some possibilities, check out this article from Inc.
The magazine invited a group of thought leaders to recommend questions that all businesses should ask themselves in order to attain and maintain excellence. It is a valuable list and worth your time to review.
To start you thinking, in the spirit of Passover, we've culled four questions we think have special relevance to the business of camp. We encourage you and your leadership team to contemplate and discuss these four questions - and others from the Inc. list.
"Is our strategy driving our strategy? Or is the way in which we allocate resources driving our strategy?"
- Mark Johnson, co-founder, Innosight
Is your strategic plan driving your staff and board's regular activities and decisions? Or are other, less strategic tasks being prioritized on a daily basis that may not support - may even undermine - the vision and plan you worked so hard to create?
"Who, on the executive team or the board, has spoken to a customer recently?
- James Champy, author and management expert
This is a good reminder that engagement of donors and prospects is an ongoing responsibility for both staff and board of your camp. Your fundraising results will benefit when you invite donors into conversations about the experience of giving to camp and how to improve. Take time on a regular basis to encourage donor/prospect outreach with your board and other volunteers.
"How likely is it that a customer would recommend our company to a friend or colleague?"
- Andrew Taylor, executive chairman of Enterprise Holdings
Many studies have shown that this question is key to determining if a customer is truly happy with a product or service. Are your current parents and campers and donors raving fans? If not, what needs to change to make them more likely to recommend your camp to their friends?
"Do we have the right people on the bus?"
- Jim Collins, author and management consultant
To ask and answer the right questions, you need the right people on your team. Is your staff qualified, trained, and motivated to meet the demands of their positions? Do you have a robust board (or camp committee) and effective committees to create and carry out the camp's strategic plan? The best efforts will be derailed without the "right people on the bus."
Try these questions with your staff and volunteers. Or pick some others from the list.
What matters is that you establish a practice of inquiry on an ongoing basis. Then you can be confident that your camp is focused on the areas that will produce the most positive impact.