Organizational success flows from a systematic, learnable process. It’s not easy, but it’s simple.
1. Having an inspiring vision that borders on an obsession to light the souls of everyone in your organization. Your organizational ‘why’ must be a must – the world should be missing something important without you. The greatest of goals excite and scare at the same time, and it is ok – if not preferred, to set long-range lofty goals without a clear idea on how you’ll get there.
2. Setting a clear description of exactly who you serve (customer or business), and what problems you solve for them and how you do so. Intimate knowledge of how you do this differently, better than, or more uniquely than the marketplace is essential for long term survival and to thrive within your niche.
3. Keeping in mind there will be variables and uncertainty, having powerful strategies in place to attract new customers (stakeholders in not-for-profit or charitable organizations) and retain them through solving the aforementioned problems and delivering on a consistent high level of service. Your value proposition must inform your marketing strategy, communication, and sales process.
4. Massive clarity on exactly who you need to bring into your organization to help execute your mission can be the biggest difference between success and failure.
5. Effective systems, honed over time that are reviewed and improved over time, to onboard each new hire and set them (and your customers and the organization) up for as much success as possible.
6. Flowing from your organizational purpose and vision – concise core values that serve as the moral compass of the entire organization, and are integrated into strategic decision making, even if it means saying no to short term profits at times.
7. An organizational identity – chosen on purpose and safeguarded as a matter of utmost importance, because great leaders realize that their culture is either but by design – or by default. Furthermore – culture is simply “how things are done around here”, so great organizations ensure their performance standard is set by them, not by forces outside their control. While the notion of a gatekeeper may not engender thoughts of fun, organizational culture includes unique customs, traditions, and ways of making and keeping work (or volunteerism) fun!
8. Assessment and development tools to ensure your team is working together effectively, and finding a balance between conflict and groupthink. Disagreement from invested team members can be very healthy, as can organizational consensus, but both can be taken too far.
9. Goals set for every important aspect of what you do.
10. A detailed, aligned, yet simple strategic plan for the attainment of said goals – that gets updated and communicated regularly throughout your entire organization.
11. A dashboard of measures/ key performance indicators (KPI’s) to assess how you are progressing towards your goals and plans in each area, from financial performance to operational efficiency to team and customer satisfaction.
12. Feedback loops tied to the above that help inform the leaders of each team/ department what to keep doing, what to stop, what to start doing, and what to do more or less of to maximize return on investment (in terms of both time and cash).
13. Rhythm of meetings and communication from leadership to working teams, and between teams and team members, to address issues, provide recognition and praise, and course correct when necessary.
14. Physical space, as well as methodology designed to infuse new ideas, creativity and innovation into the organization.
15. Systems for assessing, prioritizing, and addressing risk in your organization.
16. Systematic, regular off-site strategic planning sessions not just to ‘check a box’, but to plan for the future, infuse energy into the coming term, ensure the succession of your key personnel, and take an organizational ‘look in the mirror’ to ensure you are becoming who you want to become.
17. A commitment on behalf of present leadership to resist becoming entitled or disconnected from the mission, and to hold all who will come into the organization in the future to the standards upon which the organization was founded – never to lose their way or be swayed by temptation. A business, a church, a community that remembers its roots – is an organization that will remain relevant as long as it so chooses to.
My Google search of ‘business success’ yielded 2,370,000 results in 0.77 seconds. If one so chose, they could dive ever deeper, and examine with ever greater granularity the multi-faceted complexity that is business. Or – one could choose to boil it down to its simplest form, and accept that the score card is simple, but to hold oneself and one’s entire organization to a world class standard every day for decades may be one of the rarest accomplishments they could ever strive for.
May this road map, however simple, serve as a beacon to you and your organization as you go forth to create something to be remembered, and as you look back many years from now, may your journey be worth it. May your days be spent as the gifts they truly are.