Creating a Results-Driven Culture to Find Your Road to Recovery

Just thinking about how to lead an organization in a slow economic recovery can dampen your spirit, unless you recognize this is exactly the best time to create a results-driven culture.

Signature i, after studying conventional wisdom and the management literature, has developed a list of eight basic factors that can move your organization from dysfunctional to high performing organization. And in the two leadership workshops where we field-tested our organizational self-assessment, people found they have lots of ways to improve that are well within their means. How does your organization measure up on these factors?

  1. Clarity of purpose and a sense of shared vision. The only way to get the results you want is to have a clear sense of direction. But our assessment doesn’t just ask if you have a vision, we probe whether you are putting it to work for you. 
  2. Open communications, transparency and trust.   Trust is the safety net that gives people the confidence to walk the high wire of performance. Do you have multiple channels for listening and sharing information? Or is some information off limits and do some people matter so little to you that you regularly leave them out of the loop?
  3. Continuous learning and capacity building. Many organizations and professionals give lip service to continuous learning, but few have aligned individual and team learning plans with their organizational priorities. Too many people race from task to task without evaluating their work and finding those lessons learned that can wring the profit from everyday processes and projects. 
  4. Right people in the right jobs.  For associations and nonprofits the right people includes both volunteer leaders and staff. To paraphrase Jim Collins, you have to get the right people on the bus and into the right seats.  With cost-cutting and hiring freezes, you definitely risk having the wrong seats empty in critical functions unless you are very careful about maintaining your core capabilities.    
  5. Right tools for the tasks.  Your tools should enhance your productivity and performance. We’re not just talking about technologies either; invest in the aesthetics of the work environment and support people in mobile and distributed workplaces.      
  6. Decision making speed and accountability.  Without clear lines of authority and empowerment, decisions can churn without resolution.  If everyone in your organization knows how decisions are made, this reduces resistance and delay. You can make decisions at the speed of change.  
  7. Measuring and celebrating results. High performance is defined by results not effort. Your metrics have to be tied to your goals and strategies and give you an early and easy to understand indicator of how you are doing. You are never too poor to say thank you. Celebrate individual and team results with recognition and rewards.  
  8. Innovation and risk taking.  High performance can only be sustained through change and innovation because the world is always changing. Results driven cultures encourage initiative and foster learning and the resilience to bounce back when good ideas fail…as they sometimes will.  

Now look back over this list. You can make progress on all eight of these basic factors just by doing what you already know good management requires.  Any gains you do make could bring you the additional resources to invest even more deeply in the people, systems and processes that turn good organizations into great ones. So squeeze the lemons from this bad economy through a results-driven culture and enjoy the lemonade.

2020 Vision of Excellence for Association Learning

If you were charged with taking your association’s education and meetings to the next level, would you latch onto the latest gee-whiz technology to deliver education or would you take a strategic and systems view of what might be possible to go from good to great?

I am consulting to a major national association exploring a mutually beneficial model for member education and meetings for the association and its components that achieves the dual goals of excellence and profitability.  As I have talked with people inside and outside this association about what the future of association learning could be, I am discovering an implicit understanding of the attributes of excellence that need to be made explicit in a vision for association learning.  We need to change the conversation from keeping up with the latest tools to getting a solid business model for a learning culture.        

An ideal model for association learning:    

  1. Supports the current and emerging continuing education and lifelong learning needs of members.
  2. For professions with a defined academic preparation program, connects to and builds on these experiences in meaningful ways.
  3. Offers multiple modes of delivery and matches the format and media to the purpose and content of the education experience.
  4. Addresses different learning styles and levels of knowledge and expertise in a way that is transparent and useful for learners, instructor and facilitators.
  5. Provides mechanisms for ongoing assessment for individuals and the profession that make it possible for people to continuously improve their knowledge, competencies and skills.
  6. Maximizes accessibility and affordability for members, consumers and other interested stakeholders.
  7. Promotes collaboration and sustains profitability for the association and its provider partners, including chapters, special sections, affiliates, academia and other essential providers.
  8. Intentionally fosters a love of learning and awareness of how to be more effective learners as individuals, organizations and professions.
  9. Embraces a learning culture that turns every association experience and resource into a learning opportunity for members. 

What else would be on your list of attributes for an ideal model for association learning?

How is your association living this vision today and how can you build on these strengths? Where are you weak and what are the potential consequences? What should you start doing today to work toward this vision?

I am finding very few associations that are living up to this ideal so let’s make it a 2020 vision. This gives us 10 years to get serious about making learning the priority strategy for creating associations that members value and our world needs.