Strategy: a small NGO perspective

Peter Chowla from the Bretton Woods Project shares some insights on strategy for small NGOs, taken from the BWP’s current round of strategic planning. You can hear his thoughts in this 10 minute interview:


We’ve also transcribed a few nuggets below:

Why do strategy?

Seven Years on [from our last strategic review], after a global financial and economic crisis, massive changes in international power relations between big countries and a change in government in the UK, I think we felt we needed to take a step back, look at the way we work with other groups and other organisations and look at the power dynamics of the situation we’re trying to change and have a more overarching view for how we can influence these institutions. Without taking a step back and looking at it from a broader perspective we were afraid that we were going to be going down trodden paths that lead to nowhere.

The challenges?

It’s taken a heavy amount of our time… but we also feel that if we do this decision right now it’ll be time really well invested for the next five, maybe ten, years

It’s slower than we hoped but I think that’s probably a product of the fact that we’re taking really important decisions… it takes time to come to consensus … [that] reflects the experience all of us have.

Resources – not just time but also money to put into having consultants help us…

It takes time to come to consensus. We’ve had some differences of opinion within the staff here, we’ve had to work through those and come to compromises…reflecting the experiences all of us have.

Advice for other NGOs?

it really pays to do your homework in advance. That means don’t just organise an away day and think you’ll go and sort everything out. You need to have thought through the options, done some research, plan ahead. We find it helps to write things down so everyone’s on the same pageĀ