Monday, May 05, 2008

What Defines an Organization's Mission

What ultimately defines the mission of an organization? Is it the carefully crafted set of words that are printed on the annual report and displayed with pride on the website? Or is the culmination of the actions and inactions of the organization?

When there is disparity between the intended and the actual, the leaders of the organization , whether they be staff, volunteers or directors, need to work with all concerned to ensure that efforts are tweaked to get back in line with the intended mission of the organization. It is not a failing of an organization to discover a drift of focus has occurred. The environment in which we work introduces new elements to our situation frequently and with these new elements come opportunities to refocus with greater precision and effectiveness on the core mission, or to lose some focus through the addition of an ever growing set of parameters to deal with.

That a sailboat drifts off its intended course is not necessarily in trouble if the course is corrected in time. Real trouble comes when the captain fails to recognize the drift either by not paying attention or by being so set in his beliefs that he ignores the signals around him.

A very simple test can help add clarity to the decision making process. Ask yourself, “Will this action (or inaction) contribute to the success of our mission as it is stated?” If the answer is yes, it is worth further exploration. If the answer is no, the process of consideration should come to a halt. If the answer is yes, a second question to be considered is "Are we the most efficient and effective providers of this action?"

If not, outsourcing to a dedicated provider is the likely the best way to achieve the organization's mission. Take a good look at your mission statement. It likely speaks to the destination, not the mechanics of getting there.

Every undertaking of your organization must have a positive effect toward the success of its mission, as all others are most certainly detracting from it in their consumption of resources that could and should be applied elsewhere.

Does your organization follow its mission? Never forget what your mother told you. Your actions speak louder than words.