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Friday, January 19, 2018

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Great & Sustainable Organizations
Rebecca Rodriguez

June, 2016

Quick. What three things come to mind when you think GREAT

ORGANIZATION? Plenty of communities give out awards to 501 C

organizations, various publications highlight “great” organizations and

the work they do or some milestone achieved. A few watchdog

organizations even rate organizations based on established metrics to

give them stars or a letter grade to help guide or influence people to

possibly support, volunteer or work with those that make the grade. I

have interacted with a lot of organizations in my lifetime - some tree

top and some grass-root. And although the majority of those had many

great attributes, programs and of course AMAZING people, I wouldn’t

say in a blanket statement, that any of them were great.


My definition of a great organization is one that has a healthy work

culture as reflected in minimal turnover because staff are paid fairly

and workloads are manageable. A great organization to me also

means that there is continuous improvement at all different levels, the

phrase “it is not in the budget, or we don’t have the money” is NEVER

uttered, much less thought and generally speaking great also

translates to me as being sustainable. Sustainable to the point that

allows leadership to actually have a line item in the annual budget for

training every employee, for an effective succession plan, capacity

building workshops to enhance effectiveness or about the latest tech

tool available, and Yes a line item even for marketing dollars - as our

friend Dan Pallotta has taught us is a good and necessary thing.


Reserves are important too.


Even though I have only been in our sector for 16 years - excluding

hospitals and universities, I can count the organizations on one hand

that thought that they were in a good place financially.


Probably because human tendency leans toward progress. Just as a

tree grows up, reaches toward the sky - humans too tend to look

onward and upward; especially when it comes to business. So even

though our checking and maybe even savings accounts look good and

we can plan for another year or two and add that cushion to our

reserves, we usually want more.


It takes a lot of planning to make an organization great. A lot. It takes

discipline, seeking out wisdom from others, being able to step back

and get perspective on a regular basis and frequent course

correction. We all have blind-spots. Blind spots are those annoying

habits that you may not even realize you do like interrupting someone

while they are in mid-sentence. Organizations have blind spots. Trust

me on this.


As you work hard and hopefully wisely to build a great organization,

areas you need to be diligent with include:


Ensuring your board is capable, well organized and that they are in

harmony moving the mission and strategic direction forward. Nothing

should be hidden from the board, selecting what you share with them.


They have a huge responsibility and if you chose your board members

properly and trained them well, they can handle moving the

organization forward and help you and your staff achieve greatness.


Financial Management - Needs and resource assessment especially

as it relates to cash flow. Structure should exist to ensure compliance

and long-term financial health.


Programs/ Services- Can you prove the effectiveness of your

program? Can your program be better? Are you constantly asking for

feedback from those you serve? Do you know what best practice

information is out there so you can learn from others?


Community Relationships - Does the community you serve love you?

Do those relationships bring you joy? Would your be missed if it were

to disappear?


Staff - Is turnover low? Do your employees thrive? Is communication

free flowing? Do you contract with an outside third party on a regular

basis (or at least every so often) to do a 360° assessment and review

the results as a team? Is the work culture healthy?


Operations - Are objectives, activities and timelines clear for everyone

in the organization?


Greatness is achievable for any and all organizations and takes a

plan. Set your standards high, write down your wish list and aim for

the moon. Be patient, strategic and never give up - your dreams will

come true.


For a limited time, we are running a special on organizational assessments for


$2,995.00*. Contact for more information.


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