Pete and Prepeat sat on a fence.  Pete fell off and who was left?   Repeat.

I don’t know about you but I always found that saying annoyed me more that it inspired me.  I got a fresh take on the power of repeat just last week during a gathering of the Consultants Leadership Forum sponsored by Cause Planet and The Denver Foundation. Six times a year we gather to learn from and with each other as we read a selection from Cause Planet’s Page to PracticeTM library.   On deck this month was “Repeatability: Build Enduring Businesses for a World of Constant Change” by Chris Zook and James Allen (Harvard Business Review Press, 2012).

Our discussion revealed that the three key principles outlined in the book are apropos for nonprofits as well as consultants.  Zook and Allen’s research revealed that sustainable companies applied three core principles.  They have:

  1. A well-differentiated core – clarity of distinction
  2. Clear nonnegotiables – clarity of values
  3. Closed-loop learning – clarity of learning

These principles resonated with me as they speak to the importance of a sustainable nonprofit business model and a successful nonprofit strategy.  Where to start?  With book in hand, you begin with clarity about what makes your nonprofit unique and what it does well (and what it doesn’t do).  You reinforce those via learning from customer and market feedback.   Once you set up the learning process you can check-point your core and nonnegotiables to  ensure relevance for the future.  That’s what Repeat had – and Pete never quite mastered.  No wonder Repeat has staying power.