Posted by: bevmeldrum | January 21, 2008

Going from Good to Great – Facing The Brutal Facts

Photo by Andrey ProkhorovToday is Day 4 of a series looking at the principles that are contained in Jim Collin’s book “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Other’s Don’t“.

Today’s topic is the importance of being willing to face the facts however frightening they are.

One of the people interviewed for Jim Collin’s research put it this way:

“When you turn over rocks and look at all the squiggly things underneath, you can either put the rock down, or you can say, ‘My job is to turn over rocks and look at the squiggly things,’ even if what you see can scare the hell out of you.”

The Third Sector is going through significant changes and sometimes when we lift up the rock and see the squiggly things underneath it is really scary. Things are as they used to be.

We know that we are doing a good thing, making a positive impact in our communities, our team is committed and we are offering a good service – so having to face the reality that we are going to have to change what we do and how we do it often just makes us want to put the rock back and walk away. We have survived thus far – maybe if we just ignore the facts, something will come to our rescue and it will all be okay.

You might be lucky and it might be okay that time but what happens next time that you ignore the facts of the situation.

As social entrepreneurs we have to realise that we carry a huge responsibility on our shoulders – ignoring the brutal facts isn’t just something that will affect us – our clients, our volunteers, our staff, our communities will all be put at risk just because we were too frightened, and maybe even too selfish, to face the facts.

Maybe you are facing a situation where your funding has run out, or you need to close a service that doing a great thing but crippling your organisation financially, or a member of staff or volunteer is just not the right person or maybe you are just not the right person to take your organisation onto where it needs to be.

These are all difficult situations but all too often in the Third Sector we give ourselves excuses for ignoring the facts and taking the less frightening route because we are ‘nice’ organisations that don’t close services, or get rid of members of staff or ask committed people to leave because a new set of skills is needed.

I can imagine some people are flinching at the sound of that. However, we have to honest with ourselves and grow up a bit. When it comes down to it if we don’t face the facts and instead put the rock back so we can’t see the squiggly things not only will we not become great organisations we probably won’t even be around for the next generation of clients.

Our clients, our staff, our volunteers and our communities are relying on us. If we don’t face up to the facts and ignore them instead, because it is easier, we are letting them down. And once we have had to close down our organisations where will they go.

A word of warning for those of you with strong, charismatic personalities – you personality may be a liability to your organisation in this respect. Your strength of personality may encourage the people around you to filter the brutal facts from you because it makes their lives easier.

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