The Re-Think: Healthy Organizations Do It Daily

There’s much to be said for the examined organization: transparency, new efficiencies, honest awareness of practice, purpose and clearly articulated goals for all.

For that, McKinsey Consulting has consistently set the gold standard in non-profit self-exams. Their online OCAT (Organizational Capacity Assessment Tool) is perennially popular, useful, and even regularly updated.

And yet…the creeping obsolescence of these tools is upon us.

Now that we can collect and dissect data in real time, such surveys seem down right old fashioned, and the approach perilously inefficient.

Surveying the landscape once every three years about what works and what needs fixing is no longer enough.

My RX: Today’s healthiest non-profit organizations need to migrate to recalibration as a daily exercise. It’s not about auditing the leadership to produce a boring doorstop of a strategic plan for a major overhaul.

That approach may indeed be intended as a beneficent tool for a rebuild, but again, survey says… workers resent the distraction and disruption.

I get it. So why not build the re-thinking into the daily practice?

At its core, McKinsey’s OCAT focus is right on: Aspirations, Strategic Leadership, Staff & Volunteers, Funding, Values, Learning & Innovation, Marketing & Communication, Managing Processes and Organizational Infrastructure and Technology – all of these need attention. But, I’d argue, daily. The consultant’s timing is too pokey for the environment of today. A dashboard or app that clearly measures activity in each of these areas, daily, is the now and future of a healthy non-profit. Trust me.

The Wisdom of Inclusion
Why ask everyone? There’s plenty of research supporting how important it is to hear from employees at every level about how things really work.  (See: Robert Jacobs’ Real Time Strategic Change: How to involve an Entire Organization in Fast and Far-Reaching Change.) Making every employee a partner for progress might seem obvious, but guess what? It’s not.

Here’s just one eye-opening example:
When I asked to meet with all of the front line staff at a major, West Coast museum where I was engaged, I got serious pushback from leaders. I persisted, and the meeting was invaluable. What I learned was that membership sales at the ticket booth were taking place because the staff was, (incidentally, but crucially) bilingual in Spanish, despite the fact that there was no Spanish language membership brochure. Strange but true! I only gained that insight by asking the people who are at the ticket window meeting the public, not the suits.

My advice: Be bold in the daily re-thinking exercises.
Welcome the re-calibration as a daily exercise.
Really. Re-think boldly. Daily.

Do we need a new building? Do we need this building?
Do we need any building at all?

Eyes wide open, every day.  Go!

Download the “Healthy Organizations Do It Daily” PDF [584kb] here.

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