Frontline staff contribute to vision building
Barnardos Australia have a clear vision – we will empower every child in Australia to have the opportunity to reach their full potential. But it wasn’t always that aligned for everyone in the organisation.
In a recent McKinsey & Company report: Building from the purpose: Unlocking the power of Australia’s not-for-profit sector Australian not-for-profit organisations were put alongside other organisations in a global dataset of 6 million, to understand the organisational health of the sector. Examining organisational health helps understand outcomes (how healthy is your organisation?) and practices (what behaviours does your organisation adopt to stay healthy?).
One of the three practices that characterise great purpose-driven organisations is having a clear purpose and meaningful values, communicated across the organisation. Australia’s NFP sector is world-class in this dimension ranking 89% above the benchmark on creating a shared vision.
Case study – Barnardos Australia
For children’s safety charity Barnardos, defining a five-year strategy that employees and partners could get behind was all about building from purpose: taking the best of their approach to working with vulnerable children and their families, and applying it to themselves.
‘Everyone who works at Barnardos is deeply committed to our mission, but in the past, we’ve each tended to tell a different story about exactly what we did’, explains Robert Wojtaszek, Strategy Manager at Barnardos Australia.
‘When you work with vulnerable children and families, you spend time upfront clarifying where they want to go, and work with them to prioritise the things that will make the greatest difference to their lives; because you can’t do everything at once. It’s the same with strategy and organisational health,’ says Robert.
This realisation motivated Barnardos to focus on involving employees and stakeholders in building their new strategic vision, embarking on a roadshow to hear directly from staff with frontline experience. Once their strategy had been clarified, Barnardos had an honest conversation about what projects they needed to prioritise. Robert said, ‘We had 64 projects on the go, so we laid out all the things in-flight and had to make decisions about what was possible, and which projects aligned to where we wanted to be.’
To achieve their strategy, they needed to be more collaborative, and work across portfolios. Robert said, ‘We don’t tell a family, “Mum, you’re only working on X, Dad, you’re working on Y, and Nan, you’re working on Z” – we solve each together’. Barnardos brought this ethos of shared ownership into their executive meetings, moving from individual operational updates to collective problem-solving around issues.
Barnardos has achieved greater transparency, clarity and energy throughout the organisation at the end of the first year of their five-year strategy, which was reflected in improved organisational health results after just 12 months. A staff member new to the organisation reflected that: ‘[Barnardos] is so transparent. The Executive and my manager tell me what’s going on in the wider organisation, and that gives me the autonomy and flexibility to solve problems as I see them’.
*About this research – The Australian Scholarships Foundation collaborated with McKinsey & Company for this research. The research was based on McKinsey’s ‘Organisational Health Index (OHI)’ diagnostic tool. McKinsey have used the OHI with 2000+ organisations (6 million+ responses) globally over two decades. The OHI measures how ‘healthy’ an organisation is. How it aligns around mission and strategy, executes with excellence, and renews itself to sustainably achieve its aspirations.
Findings are based on 4,000+ OHI survey responses across 37 prominent Australian social sector organisations. Also sector CEO roundtables and in-depth case studies on non-profits who are out-performing, even in the current environment.
Sharing stories to support organisational health
We’d like to share more insights like these to help improve not-for-profit staff capabilities and support organisational health and growth. If your organisation perform well at one or more of the three key capabilities this latest report has highlighted (talent growth, execution excellence and system shaping) we would love to hear from you. Please contact us if you are open/willing to share some of your insights and lessons with others in the sector.
Read more of our insights on not-for-profit capability building here.