Javier Palenque

Global business consultant based in Miami,  with an MBA from Boston University and Executive studies at Northwestern Business School. Global expertise in supply chains, distribution, foreign markets, family businesses, and business transformations. A D3 player when young, Javier has been involved in tennis for all his life. An avid photographer and a defacto tennis coach, he writes articles often trying to influence the direction of tennis in the USA. His mantra is to make sure

tennis is accessible for all who want to play, regardless of income level.

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La Raison D’etre and the USTA 

By Javier Palenque

raison d'être (noun) formal: the reason for which a person or organization exists

 

The reason for USTA’s existence is according to its mission to grow the game of tennis. This effectively means that all its resources and sections are purposefully driven to accomplish this mission. Today, while we have the pandemic the value of nonprofits in our social fabric, becomes ever more important. This is the moment where large nonprofits like the USTA can come to fulfill their mission by doing what is expected of them, to make the society we live in better for those less fortunate through our sport. We need to bring the beauty and lessons of the game to all those who probably cannot enjoy its benefits without some help. By doing so we are helping our country and its citizens. In this article, I want to raise awareness of the impact a well-funded nonprofit can have if it honors the key elements of a nonprofit in pursuit of fulfilling its mission.

William F. Meehan III and Kim Starkey Jonker authored a book called Engine of impact of nonprofits, the authors state that we are entering the “Impact era “- in which nonprofits will play an ever more pivotal role in supporting, safeguarding and sustaining American civil society. Consider that the Covid19 pandemic has left between 30-40 million people unemployed, to have context that is like the entire country of Australia and Sweden together, or all of Canada, or MI, NJ, AZ, and IL together. This devastation to American families will have an approximate impact of 30% in youth sports participation this will be a blowing crush to many kids and a further blow to our beloved sport. How and who is going to make that up? Where does this dynamic fit in the USTA’s business plan, of the sections budget how much of the grant money is now going to be used for programs? The book's title has its origins in the authors' view that the best way of explaining the effective practice of strategic nonprofit leadership is to compare it to a high-performance engine, like those big engines on planes that can take you from continent to continent and different time zones in a short period of time. Like an engine, strategic nonprofit leadership consists of multiple components, each of which must function well and at a high-performance level in order to ensure that the mechanism as a whole will achieve its purpose. In the USTA’s case, that means having large participation numbers in kids, youths, young adults, older adults, and professionals.  

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The seven components of a high-performance nonprofit engine of impact are:

  • Mission. A focused, clearly defined statement of purpose. Growing the entertainment part of the business is all well, but that only covers 2 weeks in the entire year, what about the remaining 50 weeks of the year? There is work to be done here.

  • Strategy. A strategic framework based strictly on what matters most. How exactly is the sport to grow within the largest generations Millennials and Gen Z, together they will soon make up 50% of the entire US population? Lots of work needed here.

  • Impact Evaluation. A system to measure impact. How is this measured? Who is the customer and how do we add value to them? Transparency and clarity are key.

  • Insight and Courage. A commitment to applying heart and soul to each decision towards achieving the mission. Doing more with less, it's all about the core of the entity, learning to listen helps.

  • Talent and Organization. A superb team to build and sustain high performance. New talented people are urgently required to help the engine soar, yes diversity is valuable.

  • Funding. An ability to build strategic revenue channels and to gain access to the right donors. Especially now with the uncertainty, the virus has brought to all sports, the contraction is going to hurt a while.

  • Board Governance. A strong, effective board of directors with sound discerning strong voices that include those excluded and where voicing strong opinions is welcome. Board members also need to be evaluated so they know that their tasks need to deliver value to the customers of tennis.

These essential points look uncontroversial, certainly, in a corporate context they would seem normal. But "within the nonprofit sector, they remain subject to widespread neglect". The authors indicated that in nonprofits the key seven issues are inadequately and unreliably measured and evaluated for impact and performance, weak or ineffective management, and weak or ineffective board governance. If any of these seven key components are not performing and if the organization is struggling with at least one of the essential components, this means that they are in fact preventing the organization from achieving its goals, these failings are significant and over time they become devastating add to that the virus and the contraction and we have a conundrum in our hands.

With the new CEO and the changes that he is making in the last few weeks, it seems that Mr. Dowse is looking at the problems facing the nonprofit the right way. I hope that these short lines are used as welcome suggestions and pointers to make the high-performance engine deliver for the people.

I love this game and want as many kids as possible to be exposed to it the right way, this includes their moms and dads, and others.

 

                                                    “Let’s GROW the game together”

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