Sometimes, people who work in non-profits and government seem to take on an attitude of entitlement, feeling that because there is no pressure from stockholders, they can operate at mediocre. I have seen this phenomenon repeated frequently, especially in government. I’m sure you have witnessed government workers who have said “it’s not my job”. I talked about this in a prior post. It seems that government and non-profits sometimes aim low.
In the non-profit sector, I’ve met many people who had loads of passion for the mission, but didn’t have the discipline to deliver their service with excellence. Process excellence along with a culture of continuous improvement becomes sustainable only when the element of passion marries with discipline. Passion is not the opposite of discipline; instead passion drives discipline. Passion sustains discipline; discipline delivers.
In a floundering non-profit, I could give you all of the documented processes and all of the Lean methodologies I have in my tool box, yet there might be little improvement. That’s because tools are not what makes organizations improve, culture is! Culture is a sustained mind-set, and that culture comes from the highest level of organizations. It’s easy to talk about continuous improvement; it is much more difficult to sustain a mind-set of continuous improvement.
Non-profits who don’t have a continuous improvement mind-set, and who don’t have the passion to sustain it, will flounder. Or they will aim low and hit their marks.
For the record, I am a board member at a non-profit that is working from a sustainable platform for continuous improvement. The Northeast PA Center for Independent Living knows that engrained passion is not enough. The leadership in this organization delivers process discipline. And they have the passion to sustain it. Growth and out-of-the-box thinking is the result.
If you are part of a floundering non-profit, please check out www.empoweru1.com.