Is Your Big Picture Holding You Back?
A slide in Hunter's presentation showed the image of a scale. On one side of the scale was "resources used," e.g., people's time and money, and on the other side was "responsibility." He said the more resources an organization takes, the greater the burden of responsibility to society.
So, in a resources-poor environment, what can nonprofits do if they want to do good?
- Avoid sentimentality, and embrace intentionality and accountability. "Stop making excuses, stop blaming funders, and do whatever it takes to get the car running safely," Hunter said.
- Become a demanding grantee. "Negotiate with funders for adequate overhead and operational support, and reject unrealistic demands for results," he said.
- Develop a rigorous strategy for success (with a clear mission, well-articulated goals and measurable objectives).
- "Develop a robust theory of change with clearly identified 'target populations,' operational outcomes and indicators for assessing success," Hunter said.
- Implement a performance management system, i.e., "a set of data-driven, self-correcting processes where everybody is held accountable for program participants achieving good outcomes," he said.
- "Eventually, and only under the right conditions,” Hunter said, "consider an external evaluation to test whether the outcomes measured in your performance data correspond to real changes in or for the people you serve."
In conclusion, Hunter said the six essential elements of a results-driven, high-performance culture that all organizations should strive for are:
- Leadership at all levels committed to high performance, both of quality and effectiveness.
- Efforts that align to achieve targeted outcomes ("measurable, enduring change linked to intentional staff/volunteer efforts, the basis of organizational and individual accountability," he said.)
- Data-driven decision making. Tactical and strategic data use.
- Clarity about the metrics of performance at all levels and in all roles.
- Transparency about individual and collective performance at all levels.
- Ongoing, highly individualized professional development focusing on specific staff competencies related to success, as assessed using performance metrics.