How are you doing?by Anne Yurasek on July 03, 2008
How are you doing? More importantly—how is your organization doing? If we locked you in a room for three months and didn’t let you speak with anyone but gave you only the reports that routinely cross your desk, would you know?
Even without those drastic circumstances, as an Executive Director, how would you answer the question? What documents or reports would you look at? To whom would you speak? How would gather enough pieces of information to know how your organization is doing? In my recent discussions with clients and those in the sector, there is not an obvious textbook answer - or a standard set of tools or reports that can be used by multiple organizations.
Executive Directors and program managers "know" how things are going. When pushed, they may say, "Well, our funders will let us know if we are not performing.", or "I just have a sense.", or "I speak to our clients and they are happy with our services." If they look internally at management processes or to their Board, EDs tend to lean towards the anecdotal - "My board seems to be functioning alright.", "Our management processes get the job done." Wouldn’t it be nice to know? From an objective perspective how are you doing?
I have realized that the tools our firm has to offer - including our NPO development framework, Board survey, and organizational climate survey (as well as our Mid-Manager Assessment and Organizational Learning Survey) - provide an objective basis of information about an organization. A neutral foundation. A foundation of information that is not based on anecdotal evidence, or the "sense" of its leadership, but based on the actual observation of behaviors and activities. It is also a group effort to gather the information - which gives voice to various stakeholder groups involved in the organization. Therefore - the information gathering process can be a engagement process for all involved.
You may see this as a pitch. Well, it is. I have so been struck by the lack of neutral information for decision-making in organizations - that I believe figuring out ways for Executive Directors and Board Members to truly gain an understanding of what is REALLY going on in their organizations is imperative. Our tools are one option.
Flickr Photo Credit: Mister Scratch