Organizational Sustainability

Don’t you want to be a part of something that lasts?  Don’t you want to be a part of something that will continue to leave an imprint or impact for years and years?

When we talk about things that last, the word “SUSTAINABILITY” comes up.

Sustainability is defined as:  “The ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level; to be upheld or defended.”

When we think about helping organizations to LAST, we talk Organizational Sustainability.

Leskar Organizational Management defines organizational sustainability:  “The ability for a group of persons to endure the internal and external pressures of a culture, through change and innovation, as they endeavor to deliver their specific products.”

Debra Hauser and Barbara Huberman have identified seven components necessary to ensure a sustainable organization.  They are described here:

#1)  ORGANIZATIONAL IDENTITY

Vision; Mission; Values; Branding; Messaging; Strong Leadership

#2)  FINANCIAL AND OTHER SYSTEMS/ADMINISTRATION

Budget; Cash Flow Analysis; Audit; Tax Reporting

#3)  LONG-RANGE STRATEGIC PLAN

Goals; Objectives; Benchmarks

#4)  LONG-RANGE FUND-RAISING PLAN

Needs and Resource Assessment; Donor Cultivation; Grant Writing

#5)  ANNUAL OPERATIONAL PLAN

Objectives, Activities & Timelines; Staffing; Program Needs; Committed Resources

#6)  BOARD DEVELOPMENT PLAN

Needs Assessment; Evaluation; Recruitment; Orientation; Maintenance/Team Building

#7)  STAFF DEVELOPMENT AND ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE

Needs Assessment; Evaluation & Review: Team Building

How are you doing with this list?  It doesn’t matter what size organization you are a part of, these 7 elements need to be a part of your plan.  Without a plan, sustainability is impossible!

I think one of the best things that Hauser and Huberman identify falls under the first line of “Organizational Identity” and it comes at the end of the list that includes things like “vision”, “mission”, “values”, “branding” and “messaging”….  All of these things are important, but look at those last words in this line of critical things:  “STRONG LEADERSHIP“.

I think sometimes we spend a lot of time working on the PLAN, and we forget that the only way any of this will happen is with STRONG LEADERSHIP.

Without STRONG LEADERSHIP:

– There will be no vision, no organizational identity, no values, no message.

– There will be no systems put in place, no accountability, no reporting.

– There will be no long-range plans, no goals, no objectives, no evaluation.

– There will be no operational plan.

– There will be no board development, no team building, no staff development.

– There will be no organizational culture.

The  best way to create organizational sustainability is by investing in key leaders, helping them to grow in their abilities, their vision, their skills and their focus.

The best way to create organizational sustainability is by helping key leaders to see the need for all of these things and to help them begin to put it into place in a start-up organization or in a seasoned organization.

The best way to create organizational sustainability is to create a system of ongoing training, encouragement, support, help and coaching for leaders that have a real desire to last, who have a real desire to leave a legacy of impact in and through the organization.

I’ve seen what happens to organizations when leaders are equipped, resourced, coached and connected.

I’ve also seen what happens to organizations where the leader feels alone, feels isolated and feels that the entire organization is resting on their shoulders.

If you want your organization to last, invest in your leaders, invest in THE leader.  Strong leadership makes all of the difference.

Russ Cline/2014

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