Posts Tagged ‘Venture Philanthropy Partners’

Look at “what and why” instead of “how”

Leap of Reason is a bold and wise look at a persistent problem in the nonprofit sector by one of our leading philanthropists. Managing to outcomes requires nonprofit leaders to take a candid look at what and why they measure instead of how. No one is left out of the equation in Morino’s analysis. Whether you represent government, business, or nonprofit, you’ll find Morino’s insights deeply provocative. While it’s impossible to predict how dismantled our economy will be in the coming years, we can ensure nonprofits are more durable than ever by making our outcomes indispensible through purposeful and enlightening measurement.

In our CausePlanet interview, I asked Mario Morino about the set of conditions organizations must possess before they can successfully manage to outcomes. Here’s what he had to say:

CausePlanet: You explain the real challenge in managing to outcomes is that organizations need a set of prerequisites: an engaged board, leadership with conviction, clarity of purpose and a supportive performance culture. These conditions appear to be best tackled at the top. Have you seen boards and CEOs successfully self-diagnose their level of engagement or conviction?

Mario Morino: I agree with your premise. The top of the organization must value high performance and lead the way on the changes required to get there. That’s not to say you can’t get an initial spark from elsewhere in the organization. I’ve seen that happen a number of times. But if the top leadership doesn’t help to kindle that spark, leading by its own example, then the fire for performance will die out quickly.

And yes, I have seen boards and CEOs self-diagnose their challenges and make the leap of reason! I’ve seen it up close quite a few times. For example, I saw this at the Lawrence School in Northeast Ohio, where I serve on the board and as an advisor, and some know me as “the parent from hell.” Lou Salza, a brilliant, passionate new headmaster and a highly committed board chair, Susan Karas, led a fundamental rethink and reinvention. I describe Lou’s role in Lawrence’s transformation in my recent speech, “Relentless: Investing in Leaders Who Stop at Nothing in Pursuit of Greater Social Impact” What I should have also pointed out was the important role Susan played and what happens when you have this kind of passionate, focused leadership leading the charge.

I’ve also seen rethinking and reinvention in organizations that did not have an infusion of new leadership, such as:

Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers
Friendship Public Charter School
Maya Angelou Public Charter School
Roca
Saint Luke’s Foundation
Share Our Strength
Year Up
Youth Villages
The SEED School and others.

Watch for more highlights of our interview with author and philanthropist, Mario Morino, next week.

Leave a reply

Managing outcomes requires a leap of reason

Rather than take a blind leap of faith based on intuition or anecdotal information, author Mario Morino asks us to take a leap of reason when managing to outcomes. Why? Because our causes deserve it and social markets increasingly will fund only the nonprofits that demonstrate results.

Unfortunately, nonprofits aren’t great at managing to outcomes for a variety of reasons Morino explains in Chapter One of this book (request a free copy below).

Similar to other professions, nonprofit leaders aren’t rewarded for good management and consequently, have an acute shortage. Funders generally don’t provide financial support in order to make the leap to managing outcomes. Admittedly, nonprofits are cautious of managing to outcomes because they fear the information will be used against them rather than constructively for them. Among those who do try managing to outcomes get lost in the how to measure rather than the what and why.

I asked Morino about the benefit of good information in our interview:

CausePlanet: Your book claims the vast majority of nonprofits do not have the benefit of good information and tools to manage desired outcomes. Furthermore, you stress the importance of collecting better data to determine where you’re headed, chart a logical course, redirect when necessary and compete for funding. If some nonprofits are guilty of overmeasuring, why is there a disconnect with outcomes?

Mario Morino: There are some nonprofits that overmeasure, often because they are pushed by their many funders to provide a lot of data that help their funders check compliance boxes but don’t help the nonprofits themselves to navigate, learn and improve. And there are many nonprofits that undermeasure or don’t measure at all, perhaps because their leaders and board members are not asking all the hard questions they should be asking.

But I don’t want to dwell on the measurement part of this story. Measurement is a tool of effective management, not an end in itself. The macro point of Leap of Reason is that as a society, we’re not making nearly enough progress toward solving our big social and environmental challenges, and we desperately need to find better ways of encouraging, supporting, and rewarding high performance in our social and public organizations. In this era of scarcity, investing in high performance is not a luxury. It’s a necessity.

Join us next week for more of Morino’s author interview and our discussion of the prerequisites necessary for managing to outcomes.

Request a free copy of Leap of Reason for you, your board and/or your association by emailing info@leapofreason.org or visit our Page to Practice™ summary feature of Leap of Reason.

Leave a reply

Welcome! Please provide your log-in information below.
Forget your password?
Enter your email or user name and your log-in information will be sent to the email on file.