If you spend much time on professional media platforms you are likely to see the oft-quoted declaration, “The most dangerous phrase in the language is ‘we’ve always done it this way’,” attributed to Rear Admiral Grace Hopper. Frequently, this contention is made within the paradigm of our society’s incredible rate of technological change. Obviously, technology is going to enable more efficient and potentially more effective methods of achieving goals. Sometimes, the reason for invoking the quote is to highlight the natural avoidance of change for most people. We can all easily settle into comfort zones; it takes more focused time and effort to devise new, better methods of accomplishing the mission of the organization.
I would contend that as we seek continuous improvement and strive to “think outside the box” as we analyze our Standard Operating Procedures, we need to take great care to avoid unintended negative consequences of our changes. Just as it is human nature to stay in comfort zones, it is also human nature to focus on the potential positive outcomes of our creative thinking.
Goodwill is critically important in the nonprofit sector; the ramifications of insulting a stakeholder group can take years to rectify. If one simply looks at short-term financial gain of a change without considering how that change will be perceived by one or more key stakeholder groups, the necessity of communicating with those stakeholders will be overlooked and trust will be breached. In a moment of time, quoted words that seemed wise will be rendered foolish. As you conduct a marketing audit, make sure that you are taking the necessary time and due diligence to brainstorm how your proposed changes will be perceived by your key stakeholders.