NPO: The A List

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A recap:
– Working in Noble Purpose Organisation can be much harder than imagined.
– Though when it works, the experience is hugely rewarding for those working in the organisations as well as those served.
– There is a real potential for disillusionment and cynicism from frustrated expectations.
– This experience of challenge (and uncertainty) can lead to burnout and the tolerating of poor practices.
– Leading NPOs are very hard management ‘gigs’, requiring the most skilled team and organisational leaders.

The A list?

The things to keep checking on and working towards
– The necessary Alignment: agreement about direction and priorities. Between strategy and operations; between divisions; between organisational and personal priorities.
– The appropriate Attitudes: that the desired behaviours are clearly spelt out, embodied by senior staff and reinforced in who is hired (and fired), rewarded (or warned), promoted (and demoted).
– The need for Accountable Autonomy: encouraging initiative, within the frameworks of Aligned purpose and suitable Attitudes.

And the critical A? Building Awareness of what is expected, and how that fits (or doesn’t) with personal motivations and goals, from the philanthropic to the those for personal gain. Spending time talking about some of the tensions and issues is at the heart of this. Hearing what others have to say. Examining the experiences of working in a NPO. Building a culture of supervision and mentoring? Stepping back from ‘fire-fighting’ – and avoiding ‘navel gazing’. Keep learning.

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