Category Archives: Strategic Planning

Strategic Planning

Group Attention Deficit Disorder Can Undermine Strategic Planning…

“Oh Allah! I seek Your guidance by virtue of Your knowledge, and I seek ability by virtue of Your power, and I ask You of Your great bounty. You have power; I have none. And You know; I know not. You are the Knower of hidden things.

Oh Allah! If in Your knowledge, (this matter*) is good for my religion, my livelihood and my affairs, immediate and in the future, then ordain it for me, make it easy for me, and bless it for me. And if in Your knowledge, (this matter*) is bad for my religion, my livelihood and my affairs, immediate and in the future, then turn it away from me, and turn me away from it. And ordain for me the good wherever it may be and make me content with it.– A Du’a (supplication) of the Prophet Muhammed (S).

[adapted from Genesis of New American Leadership: Building the Community Life]

“Don’t waste time setting priorities.”
—Herman Minor IV, The 7 Habits of Highly Ineffective People

A man exits his home to cut his lawn. He removes the mower, starts it and gets about hall way down one side when he notices some loose caulking at the front window. He stops the mower, goes into the garage and exits the home again to fix the window; as he’s applying the caulking, he notices loose screws in the gutter, and figures he can return to the caulking after he gets the screws tightened.

He goes back in the garage and pulls out a ladder and a screwdriver. He positions the ladder, starts to climb and while he’s fixing the gutter, he notices a few shingles loose atop the roof. He stops fixing the gutter and directs his attention to the roof, when he notices his neighbor’s roof also has a few shingles loose.

He has a mind to go over and volunteer to help his neighbor, but suddenly it starts to rain. He quickly descends, grabs all of his equipment and runs in the garage. He will take care of it another day. A few minutes later his wife arrives and says, “Honey, I thought you said you were going to cut the lawn while I was shopping.”

The man above has excellent intentions and the right tools; he is expending energy on problems, but is he accomplishing goals?

He has competing demands, limited time and financial resources and always operating under external constraints over which he often has little or no direct control. Now replace the man with your institution and the above homeowner functions with the internal and external functions of your institution.

Among a cemetery, an institutional newsletter, elder services outreach and interfaith conferences, which goal takes precedence? Moreover, on a day to day or week to week basis, what tasks should be accomplished to tactically sustain and strategically advance your institution?

The answers are found by asking more specific, organizational-dependent questions such as: What are the missions of your institution and what are its goals? For a mosque, with certainty the answers to these questions will be the same and yet different for every Islamic institution not only in America, but throughout the world.

A mosque in Kosovo or on the West Bank of the Gaza Strip will have different needs and face different circumstances and challenges than a mosque in Dakar, Senegal; Staten Island, New York; or Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The discrete organizational tasks, objectives and corresponding implementation vary with the nature (basic missions), complexity and resources of the organization, and this fact is true of all organizations, whether the entity is a masjid, church, synagogue, temple, school, hospital, business, military base, local or state municipality or a country. The decisions for the allocation of resources and prioritization of group efforts are complex.

If methods for managing the complexity are not implemented, the organization will suffer from group attention deficit disorder–easily derailed by the immediacy of temporary circumstances or newly identified wants, rather than remaining focused on appropriate goals and a comprehensive strategic vision.

Tip: Respect the group intellect. Begin allocating resources from the inside out…that is charity begins at home. Don’t continually overlook the needs of those already inside the institution while expending inordinate resources to attract those outside the institution.

Left open for further thought and research…Peace until next time.

Sincerely & respectfully,

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Financial Literacy Month: A Golden Opportunity for Families & Communities

”Who prohibited the nice things G-d has created for His creatures,
and the good provisions? Say, Such provisions are to be enjoyed in this life by those who believe. Moreover, the good provisions will be exclusively theirs on the Day of Resurrection. We thus explain the revelations for people who know.”
–Al Quran 7:32

“O my Lord, I seek refuge from being overpowered by debt… protect and deliver me from poverty and let me enjoy my hearing, my sight and my strength in Your way.“
–Muhammed The Prophet (S)

G-d intends for us all to have life and have it better and better all the time…”
–Imam W. Deen Mohammed (ra)

President Obama has proclaimed April as National Financial Literacy Month and is calling on all Americans to recommit to teaching ourselves and our children the basics of financial education.

This month presents an excellent opportunity for both families and community organizations to do a self assessment and critically examine how resources are being generated and managed. Financial literacy is a leg up to economic prosperity and protection against fraud and predatory banking practices.

All institutions including the family have been squeezed financially not only because of the financial debacle that brought on the worst recession since the Great Depression, but also because of income inequality and other social economic ills affecting communities, especially minority communities. Of particular concern is the targeting of ethnic minorities by unscrupulous corporations. One of the best ways to protect yourself and your family is through education and superior personal financial conduct like Maintaining excellent credit.

Nonprofits in particular must be sensitive to the general financial circumstances of those they expect to support their institutions. Help your supporters help you.

Now’s a good time for our organizations to help themselves by helping increase the net worth of their individual supporters. Encourage personal financial education through workshops, seminars, contests and on-site counseling services to enhance your community’s financial preparedness.

Some of my recommended titles for this month are:

Debt Free for Life
80 Proven Ways to Become a Millionaire, All you need is two or three!
Smart Women Finish Rich
Emotional Currency: A Woman’s Guide to Building a Healthy Relationship with Money
The Kids Guide to Money Cent$
Lemonade in Winter
Money & The Law of Attraction
The 4-hr Workweek
Your money or your life
Retirement Revolution: The New Reality (DVD)
Save Your Retirement: What to Do If You Haven’t Saved Enough
The Wealth Choice: Success Secrets of Black Millionaires

The 7 most important takeaways for financial literacy this month?

— Identify bad and good habits
— Start making changes today
— Practice delayed gratification…we don’t always have to have “it” now.
— Be a savvy consumer and investor…educate yourself and your family.
— Invest now in your future by realizing that not all of your money earned today is to be spent today…some of it’s for tomorrow when you will have less or zero earned income.
— Make a commitment to live debt free.
— And finally, pass on the knowledge, good habits, and perhaps some measure of family wealth to the next generation and help end any cycle of generational poverty.

Left open for further thought and research…Peace until next time.

Sincerely & respectfully,

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The Creator Wants Us to Be Interdependent…The Development of Government in Islam

Once we understand the natural order that God wants, we can make real progress as an individual or a group. Many developments during the last part of the twentieth century are manifestations of the natural development toward interdependence. The specialized sharing of information in cyberspace via the world-wide web, the interlinking of macro-economics among the nations, and the emergence of free-market economies and democratic reforms are not accidental.  These interdependent characteristics are an outgrowth of the natural development toward mutual cooperation, shared outcomes and the gradual elimination of virtual domination by the few. Allah (SWT) denies domination to all who seek it. Interdependence is not served by racism, extreme nationalism, ethnicism, religious intolerance and other xenophobic tendencies.

Now if the world is beginning to recognize that to win is no longer a zero-sum game, but that my success is intricately linked to your success, and if interdependency exists at every level, then what makes some of us (as individual Muslim communities) overlook the importance of being interdependent? What am I talking about? In some of our cities, we may have two, three or more masajid struggling to make progress, yet an entire year will pass without a meeting of its leaders or without an effort made to work jointly on at least one project that will benefit all of the communities. In too many instances, instead of our exploring opportunities to impact local government and influence corporate and local school board policies so that we might (for example) facilitate believers’ attendance at Salatul-Jumah or our children’s celebration of the two Eids, we are expending energy debating whether we should have a joint Eid with this masjid or that masjid.

There are some Muslims who are perfectly content to remain isolated for fear of losing their identity or some other superficial reason that is partly an expression of an acute inferiority complex. We must come out of our small thinking, reveling in decentralization and autonomy at the expense of unity and mutual cooperation. Imam Mohammed did not bring us to the proper concept of Allah (SWT), Al-Qur’an, and Muhammad’s example to now adopt a position of isolation and inferiority or superiority. The Imam wants us to be independent thinkers: but when we act (on that thinking), we should be prepared to bring something of value to complement the group effort.

Within our Association, the development from centralization to decentralization has been referred to metaphorically (and nostagically) as the ‘‘Second Resurrection.’’ The Second Resurrection represented a period (for us) in which the individual Muslim identity, as well as the respect for the worth of the individual believer was established based upon the concept of human excellence in the Qur’an. The subsequent development of the individual’s respect for economic, political, educational, and social infrastructure within a Muslim nation or community cannot be established without the undergirding of La-Illaha-illalah-Muhammad-dur-Rasullulah (nothing deserves my worship except the One Allah (SWT), The Creator of all the worlds and Mohammed (SAW) is His final Messenger). Our liberation and corresponding shift away from autocracy to democracy urgently mandate greater individual responsibility and a simultaneous movement towards interdependence (inside and outside the masjid). The new century is urging us to rethink existing administrative and management structures to eliminate internal fragmentation caused by years of reveling in decentralization. We must progress to a higher level of organizational evolution . . . “interdependence is a higher value than independence.”

If the Second Resurrection refers to the development of the individual life of the Muslim and has been characterized by the shift away from centralization to decentralization, then the development of the Muslim community life and its infrastructure is our Third (and final) Resurrection and it must be just as definitively marked by a shift away from mere decentralization to interdependence…the task is now in your and my hands. [Based on adaption from Genesis of New American Leadership: Building the Community Life].

Left open for further thought and research…Peace until next time.

Sincerely & respectfully,

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