Friday, June 26, 2009

Write Your Organizational Epitaph

This is "A Soldier's Grave" by mtstradling.

The tragic deaths of Farah Fawcett and Michael Jackson's this week have me (and people all over the world) thinking about life, death and what people leave behind.

Legacies are a complicated thing. Like brands, you can't control what you are remembered for -that photograph, quote or experience that gets stuck in another person's head. I think it's safe to say that when we die folks will wax on and on about both our good and bad traits.

All organizations, like people, die too. Witness the slow, agonizing deaths or decline of some of the worlds most venerable intuitions - Chrysler, Morgan Stanley, the San Francisco Chronicle - this summer too!

The point is not whether you give or gave a hoot about these organizations. The point is that they are going or gone and one day all we'll be left with is the conversation about what they didn't or didn't do in the world.

Call me morbid. But you should do this today. Write your organizational epitaph.
  • What did you stand for?
  • Who did you help?
  • How did you make a difference when your nonprofit was alive?
  • What were some of the shining examples of what you did well?
  • What were some of your gravest mistakes?
I hope you see where I'm heading. This IS your value proposition NOW.
  • Is it true or false?
  • Does it inspire?
  • Are you there yet?
There's not much time in this crazy adventure called life to do something great. To build a first-class team. To create a world changing product or service. To make meaning.

Don't squander your time or anyone else's by settling for mediocrity, hypocrisy or bureaucracy.

Warmest regards,


David Kinard, PCM said...


I think you've hit the nail on the head with this one. Stephen Covey suggested much the same idea when he made "Begin with the End in Mind" one of his core 7 Habits. Thanks for reminding us of having the long-view in our leadership and living.

I riffed on your idea here a bit and have posted an entry on my blog about how to exit with grace. I hope you enjoy it.

-- David Kinard, PCM

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