Sound analysis + grounded assumptions + appropriate assessments yields high performance

July 27, 2015 at 4:07 pm Leave a comment

headshot of suzanne allenI keep three stacks of reading materials. One stack is “leisure reading,” another is “need to read” and the last is “must read this week.” Somehow, a document titled The Performance Imperative landed in leisure reading, when it should have been in a stack all by itself – “read now!”

Here’s a bit of background.

 “The Performance Imperative: A Framework for Social Sector Excellence is the result of a year’s worth of collaborative work by the Leap of Reason Ambassadors Community. If Leap of Reason rings a bell, you’ll remember this as the title of a book by Mario Marino in which he made the case for outcomes-based management in the nonprofit world and used this work to issue a call to action for leaders in the field.

mario marino

Mario Morino is chairman of the Morino Institute and co-founder and founding chair of Venture Philanthropy Partners.

Now back to the Leap of Reason Ambassadors Community. This is a group of nonprofit leaders selected and organized by the Leap of Reason team ( to:

  • “Inspire, motivate and support nonprofit and public sector leaders (and their stakeholders) to build great organizations for greater societal impact; and
  • “Increase the expectation and adoption of high performance and the path toward that end.”

the performance imperative 7 pillarsThis group worked together to craft a definition of “high-performance organizations” and determined that “high performance is the ability to deliver – over a prolonged period of time – meaningful, measurable and financially sustainable results for people or causes the organization is in existence to serve.” They also developed seven organizational pillars that can and should be used by nonprofit boards, nonprofit executives, funders and public agencies, professors, management and evaluation consultants and websites for nonprofit ratings and information. In short, anyone who worked with or around the nonprofit world should pay attention to these seven pillars, which are:

  • Courageous, adaptive executive and board leadership (the most important pillar)performance-imperative
  • Disciplined, people-focused management
  • Well-designed and well-implemented programs and strategies
  • Financial health and sustainability
  • A culture that values learning
  • Internal monitoring for continuous improvement
  • External evaluation for mission effectiveness

So why am I asking my staff to move this to their “read now!” stack? Because as Jim Collins said, “Good is the enemy of great,” and high-performance matters. Sure, enthusiasm and vision are important but a formula of sound analysis + grounded assumptions + appropriate assessments yields a high-performance model that nonprofits and their leaders can use to remain relevant and grow their people and organizations.

In upcoming blogs, we’ll look at the pillars more closely and share some great work of our Ohio colleagues.

You can download the full report here.

suzanne signed in blue ink

Suzanne T. Allen, Ph.D.


Entry filed under: Professional Reading, Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

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