Does Your Organization Look Like a Bear Cub Instead of a Poodle?

| by Shannon Williams

Our family has a chocolate toy poodle—Hershey. I took him to be groomed this morning for the first time since October. Yes, I am probably a bad parent—or at least a busy one. As you might imagine he looks more like a bear cub than a poodle with all the extra hair.

Why am I telling you this? Because in the non-profit sector we tend to allow things to get overgrown—not taking the time to groom our programs, our policies or our procedures. We get so busy doing what we do that sometimes we simply go through the motions not even paying that much attention to what we are doing or why we are doing it. If we are not careful, over time, we will no longer look like our original organization—our appearance might look more like a bear cub than a poodle. 

I recently conducted a board retreat with a human service organization. As they went through their own grooming process they decided to trim their strategic focus areas from four to three. The area they chose to eliminate is still important to them, but they realized if they are successful in the other three areas than the fourth will actually be a bi-product. In other words, when they have success in the areas they are most equipped to pursue (the ones that are most closely aligned with their mission) the result will be success in the fourth area. This board wisely realized that diverting resources from their three core areas to this fourth objective had reduced their overall effectiveness. So, they groomed the organization and got themselves back on track. It wasn’t an easy process, but a necessary one that ultimately will strengthen the organization and the community they serve.

As we all emerge from the long, cold winter now is the perfect time for a little organizational grooming. Dust off your strategic plan and see if you are on track. Are there programs, initiatives, or areas of focus that need to be trimmed? Are there new strategies that need to be implemented in order to meet your goals?

Don’t allow your organization to get overgrown. If it has been more than a few months since you last looked in the organizational mirror, it is time for a little grooming. 

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