In this series I've been exploring the elements that contribute a high-performance culture. Performance need not be a goal only for highly competitive for-profit corporations.  Performance in any organization drives the impact it has: in the not-for-profit world high performance ensures the ongoing viability, relevance and effectiveness of an agency's mission in its community. 

Often, in not-for-profit organizations, annual performance reviews and comprehensive strategic planning sessions are skipped or postponed because of lack of time.  The needs of the people we serve are great and we have little time and even less funding to spare. This short-term thinking is a risk to the performance of our organizations.

By taking the time to engage everyone (clients, staff, volunteers, funders, community leaders and other people of influence) in strategic planning we can learn what we don't know and need to find out.  We can learn about resource gaps, and go about planning how to fill them.  We can learn about service and how it can be improved to reach more people better.  We can learn about upcoming trends and pressures on funding, and ask for advice and generate ideas about alternatives.  Continuous learning is one way agencies protect their viability and drive impact.