Identifying Common Strategic Lenses

We have seen that performance (good, bad and neutral) can be traced to a series of common challenges relating to the four performance criteria outlined above.

Although the particulars of these challenges are naturally wide ranging, depending on the nature of the social problem and the operating environment, most challenges call for actions in four common strategic areas: Stakeholder Engagement, Resource Mobilization, Knowledge Development, and Culture Management.

These four central themes—we call strategic lenses—highlight a series of strategic questions common to all social sector organizations.

Four Lenses

Strategic Lens Central Theme Core Strategic Questions
Stakeholder Engagement A stakeholder is anyone who has a role to play in addressing the social problem (i.e. community, clients, donors, staff/ management, board, environment, public, etc.).
  • Who are our stakeholders?
  • What part do they have to play in addressing (or perpetuating) the social problem?
  • How do we get them to play (or stop playing) that part?
Resource Mobilization Resources can be:

  • Human (people and their skills),
  • Relational (networks, partners, communities— including intangibles such as brand, reputation and image),
  • Physical (tangible assets: vehicles, land, buildings, raw materials), or
  • Financial (cash, loans, equity, grants, etc.).
  • What resources do we need to address the social problem?
  • How can we best make use of these resources to address the social problem?
  • How do we make more of these resources available and ensure they remain available in the future?
Knowledge Development Knowledge is the combination of information (content, results from research, data) and processes (methodologies, systems, techniques, procedures).
  • What knowledge do we need to develop to address the social problem?
  • How do we develop that knowledge?
  • How do we ensure our knowledge remains up-to-date, coherent, and impactful on our actions?
  • How do we execute and manage that knowledge?
  • How do communicate that knowledge?
Culture Management Culture results from the combination of the many belief systems and mindsets found among stakeholder groups.
  • What mindsets and values do we need to embrace to address the social problem?
  • How can we create a coherent cultural system out of potentially conflicting values?
  • How do we promote our cultural system?