This is the question I see educational, healthcare, and non-profit organizations struggle with the most. It is also one of the most important.
Why is answering this question important? Three important reasons:
First, answering this question focuses organizational energy, strategy, tactics, and activity. From planning to marketing to budgeting, all strategic and tactical decisions should support the answer to this question.
Second, donors are asking, more and more, for this answer. They ask for it in various forms, of course, but they are asking for it nonetheless. The answer to this question provides a sense that the organization understands its role and has a vision for how it will impact the future. It is critical that organizations be able to paint a clear and compelling picture of organizational direction for major donors, especially. It is the case for support.
Finally, I’ve become convinced that staff members at organizations which have consensus on the answer to this question experience higher morale and productivity. We all like to have a clear sense of purpose and vision in our work. In those instances where the answer to this question is unclear, ad hoc decisions and confusion is rampant. People learn that they need to look out for themselves or their departments without any over-arching sense of organizational togetherness and direction. There is no rudder to steer the ship.
“For what do we want to be known?” – can you answer this question about your organization in a clear, compelling, concise manner? And if not, how will you go about coming to such an answer?