Tuesday, January 29

The Golf Ball

Did you know that professional golfers don't actually see the golf ball when they tee up? They have been trained to focus on their swing--not the ball. Where the ball goes is use as feedback on how well they swung. As one golf instructor pointed out, "When you see someone standing over his ball studying it, you can be sure he'll have a poor shot."

What does this have to do with organizational performance? Too many nonprofit organizations have made finances the golf ball. The more they fixate on money, the worse their performance is. Their "swing"--delivery of programs and services to achieve their mission--is negatively affected. This is not to suggest that a healthy financial picture is unimportant--but it should be viewed as a reflection of how well the organization is doing in meeting its customers' expectations.

Organizations that deliver value to their stakeholders are more likely to see that value reflected in a strong bottom line. Chasing potential revenues is sure to produce the same poor performance as standing over and focusing on your golf ball. When you listen to your constituents about what they expect from you and then focus on creatively and clearly delivering on those expectations, you are more likely to succeed.

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