This beautiful photo is by Davic.
It's my birthday today and as you can imagine I've been doing a lot of self assessment. Going back in my mind over the past couple of years, looking at my work life, my home life, my spiritual life, my community, etc. and taking stock. At 40, there is a lot of ground to cover. A child, a marriage, a divorce, a new marriage, a career, moves, births and death. It's also empowering to notice where I am now and how far I've come.
This process of discernment is important for organizations too. Because organizations are just collections of individuals.
There are TONS of books out there on organizational assessment and change management - whatever you want to call it. But I think that this little monograph - The 5 Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization by Peter Drucker, et. al. is one of the best. Here is an excerpt.
"Your commitment to self-assessment is a commitment to developing yourself and your organization as a leader. You will expand your vision by listening to your customers, by encouraging constructive dissent, by looking at the sweeping transformation taking place in society...Self assessment is the first requirement of leadership: the constant resharpening, constant refocusing, never really being satisfied."It's hard to take a hard look at yourself as an individual and as a leader in your organization or community. It can be unsettling. Are we focused on the right things? Is there alignment between what we do and what our clients, donors, students, employees, board members, volunteers, etc. need? Have our programs outlived their usefulness? Are there other organizations that do what we do better? Is our work bearing fruit?
When I left NPower Greater DC Region a year ago, I didn't do it because I didn't like the mission or the people or the job. Quite the contrary, I loved our mission of "putting technology-know how in the hands of nonprofits" and I had high regard for our board and staff. I left because it became clear that my talents for writing, speaking, building relationships, etc. weren't going to get a lot of play in this small organization, i.e. I wasn't going to make the best use of my best gifts.
It's heartbreaking when you realize that your life is not aligned with your goals and it's also empowering. Because, as they say, admitting that you have a problem is the first step.
If you too have a nagging feeling that something is off in your organization. Take the first step and take stock of your situation. Drucker can help.
In the end of the day, our organizations - like us - are endowed with different strengths and weaknesses. Our task is to discern what these are and put them to best use. After all, we aren't out here selling Coke and computers, we are shaping a better world for tomorrow.