If there’s one reality you’ll need to come to grips with when leading in a time of crisis, it’s this: Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. To make it, you’ll need to improvise and then improvise some more. If you can do this, it’s your time to shine.

It was Martin Luther King, Jr., who said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” It’s an insightful observation and one you’ll need to internalize in the weeks and months to come if you expect to successfully weather this storm and come out stronger on the other side.

Your current strategic plan? It may be obsolete.

The events you have planned? They probably won’t happen.

Those carefully crafted appeals? They’ll ring hollow if you distribute them now.

All the activities you’ve designed for your volunteers? The slate’s been wiped clean.

The Five-Step Framework

Because your old plan may no longer be relevant, you’ll need
to come up with a new plan (maybe even a series of them) in a hurry. And those plans are going to need to be fueled by clear, executable priorities. And to successfully execute those priorities, you’re going to have to do things like teach your team to adopt new approaches, develop alternative revenue streams, and create effective donor messages. And on and on it goes.

To be successful in a crisis, you’ll need to channel your inner MacGyver. For the unacquainted, MacGyver was a TV character from the ’80s who, each episode, was faced with a series of impossible challenges, which he often had to improvise his way out of. While you may not need to fashion a bazooka during a high-speed car chase, you are going to need to completely adapt your plan, execution, and key metrics for success.

The people most adept at improvising in times of crisis are the ones able to effectively solve problems using resources already available to them, including people, networks,
and information.

That’s why we’ve developed a five-step framework to help you improvise for impact:

Step 1: Establish
Step 2: Execute
Step 3: Evaluate
Step 4: Engage
Step 5: Energize

This approach will help your team stay on track, help your board stay engaged, and help your constituents stay involved.

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