Only the Outstanding Will Survive



From Chris Gandy

Each year around this time, I catch-up with a group of friends all of whom are working or have worked in senior roles in cause-based organisations.

While the occasion is traditionally heavy on social conviviality, I can’t help myself and at some point try to pick their brains on something like “what’s the next big thing in the sector”.

This year I changed it up a little and casually asked:

“How different will your organisation look in 2020?”

At first my question was met with hilarity around the table with

“Ask someone who cares, I won’t be around by then – pass the chardonnay please” being a typical response.

Eventually Michael, the CEO of a mid-sized Aged Care Provider sobered the group up by commenting:

“Tell you what, if our organisation isn’t regarded as being extraordinary by then it won’t be around either!”

Michael was away. He said he foresaw a time not far ahead when in his field the number of providers would fall dramatically and only the outstanding would survive. He cited various examples of this in for profit sector and warned that the not for profit sector was far from immune from this. He even referenced an earlier B-Cause post by Patrick McFadden to support his argument (Go Michael!).

Well if this wasn’t a mood changer. The rest of the group eventually fell in line behind Michael and chorused that by 2020 (if not before), average just wont cut it any more.

Fearing this was going to turn the evening into a wake, I asked

“OK, so what needs to be done guys?”

This brightened things a little and various constructive ideas started to be thrown around. All were able to cite extraordinary moments in pockets of their organisations but the difficulty was not only sustaining this but spreading it to all areas of the organisation.

Gradually the view was formed that we need to come up with ways on ensuring  “extraordinariness” oozes through the organisation and sticks.

My contribution at this point was to suggest that Neil Ducoff’s book No-Compromise Leadership is a good starting point. Ducoff has identified eight primary drivers towards sustained “extraordinarness”

  • Culture
  • Sense of urgency            
  • Data                      
  • Information flow
  • Teamwork         
  • Innovation                        
  • Systems                
  • Accountability

I know it all sounds daunting and besides, being average doesn’t require too much hard work while being exceptional seems tough. I guess it all comes down to you, your Board and your management team deciding whether your Cause is worth it.

If you believe it is don’t despair and do as my little group did as we wished each other a happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year – take some solace and inspiration in the thought that the recognition and acceptance of a problem is the first step to solving it. And resolve to make 2014 the year you break from the status quo and trek towards extraordinariness – and survival!

Chris is the Principal and Founder of Cause and Effective , a group of experts who aim to help leaders transition their cause-based organisations from good to extraordinary. You can contact Chris here

About B-Cause

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

1 Response

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

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