Have you ever felt that management indicators aren’t good indicators of impact? One Blue Avocado reader (who asked not to be identified) told us about an experience in his city:
"_______ was a ‘loosely managed’ organization working with women leaving incarceration. I think they had a real impact. But there were problems with the ED not turning in reports to funders . . . a funder called their board chair, and so forth. Eventually the ED was chased out and eventually the funders closed down the agency. It left a very big void in the community.
"The question I wanted to ask was: Would you rather have an organization that’s loosely managed but creating real impact in the community, or one that can check off every block on the management report but you don’t see any impact?"
This story strikes home because we all know organizations of both types: the high impact, innovative ones described as "internal disasters," and the bureaucratic ones with stale programs but perfect management audits. From seeing both types we know that good management practices don’t necessarily lead to high impact or innovation. I’m certainly not anti-management, but it’s important for us to recognize the limitations of focus on management.
In this economic climate, the old adage is even more relevant: Management is doing things right, while leadership is doing the right things. Right now when so many of us are struggling financially, focusing on doing the right things — prevailing rather than just surviving — could not be more important. — Jan Masaoka
* Car donations . . . you’ve heard about them but what’s the real story? This issue has a First Person Nonprofit article about what really goes on with them, and a story on the controversy and how best to donate your own car. PLUS: Succession Planning for Nonprofits of All Sizes (a fast, comprehensive read) and a 3-Minute Vacation with a mad cat. Enjoy.