I spent a few hours this week reconnecting with a book that changed my professional life when I first encountered it several years ago. Forces for Good, written by Leslie R. Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant, lays out six practices that organizations seeking to have high impact need to adopt. The organizations covered in the book are responsible for catalyzing social movements, mobilizing people, and changing public attitudes and behaviors. These high-impact organizations not only focus on growth by building their infrastructure but also on how they can truly effect widespread change and tangible results, together with their collaborative partners. From their research, the authors determined that successful, impactful organizations focus on what happens outside their boundaries. They are OK with building a "good enough" internal organization and putting most of their energy into being a changemaker externally, thus achieving more together than they ever could achieve alone.
What are these six practices?
- Advocate and serve: High-impact organizations start out providing programs to serve their audience, but as they grow, they realize this will not be sufficient. They then expand their impact to advocate for their audience, providing an even broader platform for their mission.
- Make markets work: High-impact organizations do not function using traditional concepts of charity alone. They build corporate partnerships and other innovative business practices to leverage the market's power to further social change.
- Inspire evangelists: High-impact organizations engage their communities in their mission and vision, and utilize them as ambassadors for their cause.
- Nurture nonprofit networks: High-impact organizations collaborate versus compete with other organizations. They share their power and talent, for the greater good.
- Master the art of adaptation: High-impact organizations make mistakes, but continue to adapt their strategies and tactics to stay relevant and advance their mission.
- Share leadership: High-impact organizations have charismatic leaders who delegate well and empower others to lead. They are strategic thinkers and entrepreneurs who look for opportunities to share their strength in the pursuit of success.
How does your organization measure up in utilizing these practices? Do you want a high-impact organization? Let's talk! Reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.