Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Necessity of a Healthy Foundation

In the case of Oxfam America, the organization had begun to depart from its core values and purpose. Goals were not strategically set and the organization had less impact than its competitors. OA's strategy was too broad. It lacked trained personnel necessary to complete its mission. Divisions failed to communicate and the division of responsibility was not clear. The organization relied on antiquated systems, minimal planning, and a bottoms up approach that minimized accountability. An insular internal community stifled organizational growth and efficiency. Raymond Offenheiser can reorganize and revitalize Oxfam America through Organizational Renewal. Restructuring and realigning Oxfam America with its core purpose and values seems to be the only way that it can survive against its competitors. It can leverage its new, more efficient and more focused structure to help it achieve new goals such as education initiatives or advocacy policy. The primary lesson I believe that the Oxfam case teaches is that an organization needs to remain true to its core values and purpose, else it needs to be renewed because it will otherwise be encumbered by its accumulated inefficiencies. An organization cannot stand with a base rooted in its founding core purpose and values. How can an organization expect to set goals, achieve accomplishments, or realize results that correspond to its mission, if it ignores its foundation?
                The idea is akin to a human expecting to survive by ignoring its bodily needs. Just as a human probably should not plan a vacation while they are failing to ensure its survival, an organization probably should not plan to engage in new initiatives if it is failing to adhere to its core purpose and values. Consider that only a small, generous, percent of society is willing to donate to a homeless person on the street. Passersby rationalize ignoring a fellow human’s need by telling themselves that the poor unfortunate soul would probably misuse any donation and continue to ignore their basic human needs. Likewise, an organization that ignores its core purpose and values will receive donations from only the most benevolent members of society because other potential donors are suspicious of the application of their donation. As time passes, without more donations, it becomes more difficult for the individual or the organization to alike to address its core concerns. Planning for the future becomes synonymous with dreaming.

                Conversely, Renewal efforts allow an organization to shed the burdens of antiquated structure, systems, and culture. Unsolicited donations flow to an efficient, transparent organization that both upholds their purpose and values and who has a reputation for meaningfully impacting cause areas. Long-term strategic plans can be pursued, or described to donors, with the confidence that mission focused results can be realized. In short, organizations should ensure that their structure, strategy, and people are reflective of their core purpose, values, and vision of the future. If an organization has ignored its foundation, then it either needs to stop and fix itself through renewal efforts, else it risks begging for the revenue that it needs to thrive.

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