Over the years I have become aware of how black and white or all or nothing thinking can make adulting quite tricky… I am either exercising 7 days a week or not at all. I am either eating like a Buddhist monk or a ravenous toddler. Sound familiar?

My work in fundraising, individual donor management and social enterprise at times has felt no different.

Recently I was talking with the director of an organisation about a refresh to our website. After scanning the web for other innovative NPOs, I panicked and barreled headfirst in to thinking: “We are not doing enough, look at this person’s website, it is so enviable, we need to change EVERYTHING…”

While the possibility may exist that a website overhaul is the ultimate answer, my zealous approach may have overlooked the many things that are working wonderfully or allowed me to consider that an ‘all or nothing’ approach may not be feasible time, resource, or necessity wise.

I may have quickly disregarded the great copy or compelling pictures or even how the website has served the organisation in many ways over the last two years. I may have over emphasised the expertise offered by flashy consultants and trendy webinars.

It made me think about how this type of thinking can immobilise us, make us overly reliant on funder money to implement change, or halt progress altogether as we set impossible targets for ourselves. An alternative could be using an assets-based and not a problem-based approach focusing on implementing change with what I already have available to me. In this case it was the addition of some new pictures, additional functions to the donation page and a social media feed.

A useful approach to consider is the notion of Kaizen or ‘Continuous Improvement’.  It is based on the idea that small, ongoing positive changes can reap significant improvements over time.

Kaizen has its origins in the post-World War II Japanese Quality circles and was based on the premise that quality control should be put more directly into the hands of the workers and was published by Masaaki Imai in his book Kaizen:  The Key to Japan’s Competitive Success in 1986.

My favourite principle:

‘Let go of perfectionism and take an attitude of iterative, adaptive change’. Think I may get this printed on a t-shirt!

How could we embrace such changes with tight deadlines and multiple roles to play?


Rather than abandoning your entire strategy/website/meal plan/career, focus on what is working by making daily improvements. By taking an inventory of what you already have, and what you can do right now you can build the case for other changes that may require more money or resources over time.

If I focus on making consistent small daily improvements, I feel a sense of relief and spaciousness that allows me to work harder and in a kinder way to myself and others.

This week, try and look at your plans, strategies, proposals, and staff with fresh eyes.  Maybe a few tweaks here and there will make the world of difference?

Throwing the baby out with the bathwater was never a good idea and I hope bringing in a bit of Kaizen will make your work a little easier and fulfilling.

Until next time!