Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Non-Profit Leadership & Reputation

Non-profit reputation is on my mind right now since I have to speak to several non-profits next week about building reputation. I started reading Jim Collins' Monograph Good to Great and the Social Sectors: Why Business Thinking Is Not the Answer to find some answers. Collins essentially says that the primary path to greatness in the social sector is NOT to become “more like a business.” After talking to people and trying to understand how non-profits operate when their outputs are not economically-oriented, he comes to the conclusion that the social sector needs to shift from being an economic engine to a resource and mission engine. As he says, "The critical question is not 'How much money do we make?' but 'How can we develop a sustainable resource engine to deliver superior performance relative to our mission?'" [I am not doing justice to the monograph so please get a copy.]

Collins' monograph is required reading for anyone who loved Good to Great and is interested in how organizations can be run without the hierarchy that supports and surrounds CEOs. Collins highlights how public companies keep everyone in place with concentrated executive power -- unlike the social sector where executive power is diffuse. He tells a wonderful example on page 10 that sums up the differences and made me think of Harvard's President Larry Summers newest no-confidence motion reported in today's Wall Street Journal. A corporate CEO went to work as an academic dean but eventually quit ("one of the most draining experiences in my life"). Collins says that another university officer he spoke to nailed the reason why the CEO-dean departed. Referring to tenured faculties, the officer said: "A thousand points of no."

In corporate America, we often have too many points of "yes" but the above example summarizes how hard executive decision-making is when you leave America Inc.


Anonymous Inc 500 Company said...

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4:18 PM  

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