As a partner to change agents seeking to solve social problems at the magnitude they exist, Community Wealth Partners is deeply invested in the realization of our client’s goals and the sustainability of their programs. As a sector, we’ve all begun to realize that it’s no longer good enough to make the case that we’re addressing real needs. We need to prove that we’re making a real difference. That realization is at the core of Leap of Reason’s Performance Imperative, and is what excited Community Wealth Partners about joining this effort to define how organizations can create a culture of high performance and continuous improvement.
“High-performance organization” is a moniker most organizations—private, public, or nonprofit—would love to earn. And yet who can say what “high performance” really means for mission-based nonprofits? More importantly, how do executives, boards, and funders get there from here?
The Leap Ambassadors Community, a network of nonprofit executives, has spent a year developing clear, actionable answers to both questions. You can find them in the free—and jargon-free—document “The Performance Imperative: A framework for social-sector excellence” (PI). The PI doesn’t read like a watered-down, least-common-denominator white paper. It reads like the collective wisdom of some of the brightest lights in the field.
Here, in a nutshell, the PI’s definition of “high performance”: the ability to deliver—over a prolonged period of time—meaningful, measurable, and financially sustainable results for the people or causes the organization is in existence to serve.
And here, in the PI authors’ view, are the seven organizational disciplines that lead most reliably to high performance:
- Courageous, adaptive executive and board leadership
- Disciplined, people-focused management
- Well-designed and well-implemented programs and strategies
- Financial health and sustainability
- A culture that values learning
- Internal monitoring for continuous improvement
- External evaluation for mission effectiveness.
The PI fleshes out each one of these disciplines. Organizations and their stakeholders can use them as a North Star to guide their journey toward high performance.
In this era of scarcity and seismic change, high performance matters more than ever. The social and public sectors are increasingly steering resources toward efforts that are based on a sound analysis of the problem, grounded assumptions about how an organization’s activities can lead to the desired change, and leadership that embraces continuous improvement. This formula is at the core of the PI.