What is your organization’s mission? Why do you exist? What are your goals? A lot of questions, but I think we need to ask them of ourselves more often in order to keep ourselves on track and serving those who benefit from us.
If you are a charity, you have a mission. It could be that you are a foundation in place to raise funds for cancer research. It could be to deliver services to those in need, such as a food bank. You might be a local, provincial, or national sport organization with a mandate to raise the profile of your sport and make it available to those at entry level, support those athletes through development, and put your elite few on the podium. As a municipality, it is to serve the needs of your citizens—from roads to recreation centres, leadership, and fiscal responsibility. As a member organization such as a provincial festival’s member organization or a nurses’ organization, you have a mandate to deliver services to benefit your membership. As a retailer, you have an obligation to provide your consumers with the products they need at a price they can afford, and ensure staff and service is in place to take care of those needs. A law firm has its mission, as does a dentist or a car mechanic. Each organization or business has a raison d’etre or reason to be. You need to know your reason to be, follow it, and serve it.
I have written on this topic, because over the past six months, I have witnessed myself (or have been told by others first hand from their experiences), that many organizations are straying from their missions. For some, it is arrogance. They believe that they are running the organization and they have control, but that control really lies with the board, the membership, or the consumer. Too often, they stray from their mission and it ends badly—often it is a financial issue. Many times, it is a goal to do something different outside the mission and use organizational funds to pilot the project, versus looking for alternate funds or getting approvals in advance. Sometimes even getting board approval (if it is weak board and strong CEO/ED) is not enough.
Recently, I was speaking with a colleague who ran a national survey during COVID to understand better when there might be an appetite for a return to live events. The study data was fantastic and something that every live event (concert, sport team/league, festival, or exhibition) could use and apply to their planning and forecasting. The study was not available for free, but was available for a nominal fee, and yes, I acquired a copy for our use with clients. Well, the researcher presented it to one organization whose membership operates live events. He provided the information and a discounted rate for their members to acquire it. The CEO of that organization refused to share the availability of this research or the discounted price to their membership. The CEO claimed the researcher used a software system (Eventbrite—very reputable) that competed with them, as they had their own software that could do the same job. Because the researcher did not use the member organization’s software (probably about $1200 in revenue to the member organization), they refused to share the availability of this important research and the discount price availability to their membership. I almost died! This self-centered CEO looked at their own budget and the fact that they did not win a $1200 piece of business, so refused to make his membership (who he is supposed to serve) aware of important research that made a difference then (and still now) to his membership organization. Talk about ego in the way of mission!
I am seeing too much of this. I am seeing sport organizations that play “God” regarding teams that will be sanctioned and others that will not. It is petty parent politics versus serving the mission of youth soccer, lacrosse, or whatever. When this type of leadership infiltrates our businesses and organizations, we are in trouble. That is why I say every board member, participant, and consumer must speak up and question what leadership is doing to fulfil mandates. I would love to see how that CEO who refused to share available research with his membership would explain and justify his move as one in support of the mission. That research also could have assisted dozens of that organization’s members save way more than $1200 each, which in my books is much more important than getting the $1200 piece of business so the CEO can show his investment in software is paying off!
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