In my work with organizations, I often encounter people with lofty goals who want to develop the next big thing for their group. There is a focus on “add, add, add” and creating something new. I liken it to someone making a necklace by focusing on the baubles rather than the string.

I think a more pragmatic and productive approach is to begin by assessing the pearls that already exist in an organization. By pearls, I mean the strengths, existing programs, signature services, events or the brand assets that are in place and that connect to the goal. Next, consider how these can be assembled into a more powerful and cohesive whole to increase the impact without further taxing the resources to produce them. By identifying the “loose pearls” you already have that could be strung together into a “necklace”, it allows for more rapid evidence of progress and more clearly identifies the gaps that, if filled, could make the impact more robust.

The temptation is to “think big” so focusing on existing pearls often feels insignificant. However, tying a ribbon around current components or “stringing the pearls” doesn’t have to be the end point, just the starting one.

Remember that the classic pearl choker makes an impact without being flashy. No one ever said: “Oh, the pearls on that necklace are too small.”

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