Is survival a new measure of success?


I have had a great few months swanning around the country side catching up with old acquaintances and making new ones over countless cups of coffee and the occasional tea. All of the people I met had one thing in common – they were all Leaders (Senior Executives or Board Members) of cause-based organisations, small,medium and large. But, the similarities didn’t end there.

When I asked how their organisations were going it was remarkable how many said something like…

“Oh pretty good – we’re surviving” or  “Keeping our head above water”

Actually most responded with such enthusiasm and pride you would think survival is the mark of a gold star year! They also talked about their “survival strategy” for the coming year which often include the words “if”, “luck”, “hopefully”, “maybe”. Interestingly, I can only recall one or two members of this group mentioning anything about their Cause. Rather,  the conversation was totally focused on surviving next year, until a new Government contract comes out or until that person is able to find a new position or retires!

Thankfully there were exceptions (about 20% of my coffee/tea club members) whose organisations were clearly on top of things and thriving. These people spoke with equal pride about their organisation’s achievements but it was all about growing social impact and their various plans to keep the cause-focused trend going. Equally important was that every person in this group admitted that their organisation (in some cases before their time) had transitioned from a survival state to a thriving state – giving hope and inspiration to us all!

These conversations got me thinking and making further enquiries about what it is that separates the good from the great, the survivors from the thrivers, the average from the exceptional, the winner of the Moruya Cup from Black Caviar?

This process lead my colleagues and I to come-up with our Touchstones. These are, in our opinion, the basic characteristics of thriving, impactful cause-based organisations. We also firmly believe that all cause-based organisations, irrespective of size and circumstance, can successfully move to this more positive and hopefully less stressful state. (See our Touchstone page on this blog for a brief description of the Touchstones).

So, lets not allow survival to become rooted as a primary measure of success in our sector. Together we can make a truly impactful contribution to Australian society through our thriving organisations.

Author: Chris Gandy, Director, Cause and Effective.

Cause and Effective provides consultation and coaching to cause-based organisations seeking to move from good to great and stay there.

Image from 123rf

About B-Cause

B-Cause is published by Cause and Effective. We help good causes find and attract effective leaders.

Thats our take on things. Over to you, please add to the discussion.

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