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Published by: Harvard Business Publishing
Published in: "Harvard Business Review", 1995

Abstract

Can an organization with a four-decade track record of growth avoid becoming the victim of its own success? Since the Nature Conservancy was founded in 1951, it has worked to save threatened habitats and species by buying and setting aside land. Year by year, the number of acres under its protection has increased, membership has risen, and donations have grown. The leader of any nonprofit company might justifiably envy the Conservancy''s performance, but its president and CEO, John Sawhill, isn''t satisfied. Since taking the job in 1990, Sawhill has led a major shift in strategy with far-reaching implications for the day-to-day activities of the organization''s 2,000 employees. He believes that the Conservancy must change now to achieve its mission over the long term. In this interview, he discusses the challenges inherent in refocusing a large, successful, mission-driven organization.

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Abstract

Can an organization with a four-decade track record of growth avoid becoming the victim of its own success? Since the Nature Conservancy was founded in 1951, it has worked to save threatened habitats and species by buying and setting aside land. Year by year, the number of acres under its protection has increased, membership has risen, and donations have grown. The leader of any nonprofit company might justifiably envy the Conservancy''s performance, but its president and CEO, John Sawhill, isn''t satisfied. Since taking the job in 1990, Sawhill has led a major shift in strategy with far-reaching implications for the day-to-day activities of the organization''s 2,000 employees. He believes that the Conservancy must change now to achieve its mission over the long term. In this interview, he discusses the challenges inherent in refocusing a large, successful, mission-driven organization.

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