By Kathryn Petrillo-Smith, ASF
ASF’s Foundation Guidebook talks about the importance of setting grant guidelines and what to include. Among the common components listed are “Grant restrictions (who and what you do not fund).” I’ve had many grantmakers tell me that being explicit about what they do not fund is just as important and valuable as explaining what they do fund, saving everyone time and energy.
I think that is why, when I read Daniel Pink’s The Flip Manifesto, 16 Counterintuitive Ideas About Motivation, Innovation, and Leadership, creating a to-don’t list resonated so strongly with me. Just like with grant guidelines, when organizing my own work, why shouldn’t I be explicit about what I will and will not do?
Pink credits “the two most influential management gurus of the past 30 years,” Tom Peters and Jim Collins, with coming up with the idea of a to-don’t or stop-doing list. Of them, and of the list itself, Pink writes:
The key insight of both Peters and Collins is that we spend too much time on addition and not nearly enough on subtraction. Yet it’s only by taking away what doesn’t matter that allows us to reveal what does matter.
That’s why a couple of years ago I began using a hybrid of the Peters and Collins techniques—a combo of a to-don’t and stop-doing list. I revisit the list more than once a year, but I don’t craft a new one every day. Instead, I post it on the wall next to my desk where it’s always in view and revise it when circumstances demand.
What would be on your to-don’t list?
Kathryn Petrillo-Smith is ASF’s Managing Director. In this role, Kathryn is a member of ASF’s senior leadership team and works to align ASF’s operations with its strategy. Kathryn oversees ASF’s Member Services, Membership, and Operations teams and its financial management.