Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Organizational Entropy Part III: The Motion of the Mission

This is the third and final installment of a series by Non-profit Consultant,. Derek Link, on energy, mission, and organizational entropy. Part 1 and 2 were published on February 5 and 8, 2010.

Entropy threatens to bring the motion of the mission to a grinding halt. What are you talking about? Well, entropy is energy that is wasted in doing work. In a previous post, I compared it to the loss of energy that a pendulum experiences in the friction of the pivot point that over time will cause the pendulum to stop swinging and come to rest.

Is the motion of your mission about to be stopped by entropy? Is there wasted energy and resources that are causing friction? Are wasted resources becoming an issue that is reducing your credibility with donors or your ability to provide services?

The motion of the mission can be caused by various sources or kinds of entropy:

  1. Spending too much money on administration – Loss of motion in the mission is caused by confusion or reductions in services. As important as good administration is to the completion of your mission, it can’t become more important than the mission itself. 
  2. Lacking clarity on what the mission is – Loss of motion in the mission is caused by confused action among volunteers and staff as they pull in different directions producing strife among them when it becomes unclear about what “should” be done. 
  3. Operating without effective governance – Loss of motion in the mission is caused by confusion in leadership, poor communication, confused mission, lack of accountability, and lower confidence among the donor base.
  4. Mismanagement of finances - Loss of motion in the mission is caused by poor budgeting, disorganized fund raising, and inaccurate targeting of resources, or by missed opportunities, poor communication, and a lack of fiscal controls.

These are just a few examples of how the motion to the mission can be lost, slowed, and eventually come to rest.There is no such thing as a perpetual motion machine; it takes work to get the motion to the mission going, and it will take continual application of force to keep it in motion.

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Creative Resources and Research is a consulting firm specializing in grant writing, grant seeking, program evaluation and professional development training. We have worked with hundreds of clients including public and private schools, school districts, universities, non-profit organizations, and social service agencies throughout California, securing over $155 million from federal, state and private foundation funding sources over the past decade. Our primary grant writers and program evaluators have over 50 years of combined experience in the education and social services fields. At CRR we prefer a personal approach to the clients we work with; by developing long term relationships, we are better suited to match client’s needs with available funding sources. We provide a variety of services to help assist you, including grant writing, evaluation consulting, professional development opportunities, and workshops.