As executives we face a myriad of daily challenges. Everything from dealing with individual client issues, staffing challenges, donor communications, media inquiries, to running board and committee meetings, etc clamor for our time. If we are not careful we will miss doing what only you and I as executives can do for the organization; maintaining focus on the mission. As management guru Peter Drucker says, “Every non-profit institution exists for the sake of performance in changing people and society. But how often do we make decisions about what we do from day to day based on the medical clinic or pregnancy center’s performance?
Drucker goes on to say, “The most important task of an organization’s leader is to anticipate crisis.” He says this for several reasons. First, a crisis is always looming on the horizon. To think otherwise is unwise. We may not be able to avoid it but at least we can anticipate it. Anticipation allows for better preparation. Our organizations can never be fully prepared which is why leadership amidst the crisis is so critical. Second anticipating a crisis forces innovation or what is often called continuous improvement. We begin to ask ourselves, “How can we keep accomplishing our mission in a down economy?” or “How can we continue to provide the same services under greater governmental restriction?” It forces us to work ‘on’ the ministry rather than working ‘in’ it. It forces us to empower others to do the tasks that others can do so that we can focus on what no one else can do for the organization. Third, anticipation provides the necessary courage for us to make the hard choices of trimming the services that are not getting the results we need to get for the mission while at the same time providing clarity to communicate rationale to the organization’s constituents why certain decisions have to be made.
Of course, to effectively anticipate a crisis so as to avoid it or weather it one must be the steward of a mission that is laser focused. Without a laser focused mission it becomes virtually impossible to anticipate crisis. One might even be tempted to say, “Only God knows the future!” and go on doing the 501 piranha school of tasks nibbling for your time. This is the path toward organizational mission drift and in the end will result in a museum of service rather than a mechanism for service. But a very focused mission such as to reach and serve women at risk for abortion and help them have their babies raises the executives vision high enough to see the challenges over the horizon.
So, to improve Pregnancy Center mission effectiveness in 2011 one must begin by reviewing the organization’s mission statement for clarity and focus. Then review all the activities of the organization to see if they immediately apply or are if they are helpful but non-essential to the mission. Finally, begin to think through a plan to improve either first by focusing the mission or asking questions of the organization to understand if it can get better at reaching more abortion-minded women and serving them in a way that more effectively helps them have their babies.
Remember executives are obsessed with results. If the organization is not getting the results it should something must change and that’s why you are there.
For more information go to prcoptimizationtool.com.