Prepare-Pivot-Thrive model

In 2004 the Annie E. Casey Foundation funded research on “Using Executive Transition Management to Strengthen Organizational Capacity”. In 2018 the work was refined by the Executive Transition and Leadership Continuity (ETLC) group of the Alliance for Nonprofit Management. This national team of transition consultants found that organizations are now addressing Mission Sustainability during transitions although the basic steps in the transition process, Prepare-Pivot-Thrive depicted in this diagram, continue to apply.

Source: ETLC group of the Alliance for Nonprofit  Management

The ETLC also highlighted the need for ongoing leadership strengthening at both the staff and board level.

Source: ETLC group of the Alliance for Nonprofit  Management

Applying the Prepare-Pivot-Thrive model to leadership transitions

The need to pivot during a transition may be minimal in organizations that:

  • Conduct ongoing leadership strengthening activities
  • Regularly reassess the sustainability of their mission, and
  • Adapt their strategy accordingly.

Furthermore, with sufficient staff resources, such organizations may have cultivated people who can step up to new roles, either during the transition or permanently. These organization may not need to pivot during the transition thus reducing the benefit of an external interim leader. Note, however, that naming a staff member as an interim leader is not ideal if that person does not become the permanent leader (they often leave for a better opportunity elsewhere once the permanent leader is hired).

Many nonprofit organizations do not have the time or resources to take the steps outlined above on a regular basis. For those organizations, hiring an interim leader who can take them through these steps before they begin a search is the key to stabilizing the organization, ensuring mission sustainability and hiring the most appropriate leader for the future.