We live in uncertain times. It is now more critical than ever that our government and nonprofit leaders strive for excellence and high levels of communication about their good work. Peter Drucker has taught us that if we want to plan for uncertainty we must ask ourselves, “What has already happened that will create our future?” Over the last two years, I’ve traveled the country as part of my Impact & Excellence book tour asking government and nonprofit leaders this very question. Through my travels, I have noticed six main themes that have emerged around data-driven cultures that will likely shape the future of the sector.
- Redefining Accountability
- “What Works” Requires Investment in Data Collection
- Behavioral and Mental Health is Finally Getting Attention
- Succession Planning is Needed
- High-Performance Measurement Cultures Pay
- Collaboration is King
Hot Topic #5 High-Performance Measurement Cultures Pay
Did you know that your organization’s success is predicted by its culture? Have you cultivated the most successful culture in your organization? Greater success is achieved when leaders consciously plan to align every process, system, and resource to maximize effectiveness at achieving its mission. In Impact & Excellence, I introduced the concept of high-performance measurement cultures in social sector organizations. In high-performance measurement cultures, shared assumptions, actions, and decisions revolve around consistently striving for greater success and quantifiable improvement. These cultures believe that the quickest path to greater impact comes through seeking objective performance data and using that data to effect change. There is a “doing whatever it takes to achieve our mission” attitude among organizational leaders and staff.
Mediocrity is Unacceptable
Success of high-performance cultures is built around a desire within leaders and staff members to exceed expectations and obtain remarkable results. Mediocrity is unacceptable in organizations that embrace a high-performance measurement culture. Instead, a shared culture of excellence drives members to higher and higher standards of performance.
When the measures align to the organization’s unique mission are combined with the right culture, organizations begin to realize drastically differing results than those achieved by peer organizations – even those with the almost identical resources and workforces. Driven and supported by organizational leaders, the value of such measures are communicated clearly and embraced at every level of the successful social sector organization.
High-performance organizations go a step further, leveraging data and information to influence employee decisions and invite actions consistent with organizational expectations. Measurement systems bring together staff and stakeholders and make each contributor feel part of the organizational experience. Leaders use such systems to help employees and stakeholders track both what happens in an organization and evaluate why things happen.
In addition, a robust measurement culture includes an adaptive culture that has its pulse on both internal and external factors. An organization with a robust and high-performance measurement culture will continuously refine its approach based on new information and changing conditions.
Cultures Are Evidence-Based
Data-driven organizations find success with greater speed and efficiency than those organizations that fail to collect data and accurately respond to it. The following results make this much clear: government and nonprofit leaders no longer have an excuse to resist the investment in time and resources required to transform their organizations to high-performance cultures.
Research outlined in Impact & Excellence compares organizations with high-, moderate-, and low-measurement cultures and reveals interesting differences. The more frequently and consistently an organization’s leadership team used performance measures in their management decisions, the more effective they were increasing revenues (r=.63 p <.01), improving external relations (r=.61, p =.01), improving internal relations (r=.63, p <.01), increasing organizational efficiencies (r = .59, p < .01), strengthening organizational culture (r=.57, p <.01), and implementing organizational change (r=.60, p <.01).
The Hidden Success Factor
Leaders who have achieved high-performance measurement cultures were nearly 3 times more likely to report experiencing increased revenues than the moderate or low culture organizations! The strategic alignment of measures is the secret to success for organizations with high-performance measurement cultures. When measures aligned to the organization’s unique mission are combined with the right culture, organizations begin to realize drastically differing results than those achieved by peer organizations – even those with the almost identical resources and workforces. Driven and supported by organizational leaders, the value of such measures is communicated clearly and embraced at every level of the successful social sector organization.
High-performance organizations go a step further than their peers by leveraging data and information to influence employee decisions and invite actions consistent with organizational expectations. Measurement systems bring together staff and stakeholders and make each contributor feel part of the organizational experience. Leaders use such systems to help employees and stakeholders track both what happens in an organization and evaluate why things happen.
High-performing nonprofits easily attract private, corporate, and government funding because of the proven impact of high-quality programming. Churches, civic groups, and volunteers gladly support and assist these vital organizations in communities nationwide. Newspapers, television stations, and social media channels consistently highlight successful organizations as positive forces for good in their respective communities. Similar organizations look to increasingly effective programs as models to be emulated and elected officials are more inclined to invest public dollars to support these programs.
Sector leaders should be more focused on creating these cultures within their organizations above all things because of their power to drive an efficient achievement of the mission. When each leader does their part to create high-performing nonprofit and government organizations, communities experience several desirable ripple effects.
Higher Quality Sector
As more and more organizations navigate the shift toward a high-performance measurement culture, the limitation of resources and struggles with staff morale that plague so many nonprofit organizations and government agencies begin to wane. Likewise, when organizations embrace measurement cultures, quality staff flock to them, recognizing these government and nonprofit organizations as places of real change and impact. The vital contributors to the organization are thrilled to apply their individual and collective talents and skills to make a difference. Perhaps most importantly, the resulting motivated social sector workforce leads to the consistent levels of excellence, quality, and innovation that drive individual organizations to provide even greater value on a streamlined budget.
Efficiently Delivering Social Change
Significant change in the social sector occurs as each individual organization embraces a culture of excellence. The rewards of high-performance measurement cultures throughout the sector include the creation of more jobs; quality of life improvements at every level of society; and children, families and communities thriving as organizational programs and services meet their stated goals. As more organizations adopt these cultures the promise of the desired future state of our nation’s social sector is fulfilled.
Responsible Stewards of Public Funds
Measurement cultures pay in more ways than one. The economic impact is equally significant. As more organizations adopt the operational standards of high performance cultures, reliance on government funds decrease. Social service organizations funded by government dollars effectively address the problems most on the hearts and minds of taxpayers. As organizations adopt the principles of a high-performance measurement culture, they naturally divert participants from costly programs and services to more desirable, more effective, and more affordable services.
If you are seeking assistance to strengthen your organizational culture which will catapult your resources and impact, Measurement Resources is here to help! Contact us today to schedule a call to explore why we have the best solution for you.
Visit next week to learn the importance and success principals of collaboration.
 Impact & Excellence: Data-driven strategies for aligning mission, culture, and performance in nonprofit and government organizations. By Sheri Chaney Jones. 2014 Jossey-Bass