A client once asked me to change the term 'high-performance' to 'high-impact' in a presentation.  He thought high-performance sounded too corporate. What? It has made me think a lot about how 'high-impact' is really achieved and why high performance seems like a corporate ideal.

Of course not-for-profits want to maximize their impact in the communities they serve, but fostering a high-performance culture is easily as important in not-for-profit organizations as it is in for-profit ones. The outcomes and measures will differ. A high performance culture will drive competitive advantage and profit in corporate settings.  High performance culture in not-for profit agencies will drive high-impact for the communities served.

Performance is the input. Impact is the output. 

Funders often ask for counts of things- how many people served, how many man-hours expended, and how much money spent, but these are simply inputs. Even these simple measures are hard to calibrate across the highly diverse social service landscape. High-performing not-for-profit organizations understand clearly the impacts they hope to achieve, and are measuring and managing key performance drivers (inputs) to maximize impact.

Some attributes of high-performance culture borrowed from corporate Canada translate pretty well to not-for-profit management: 
  • Clarity and Consensus on Goals, Building Trust
  • Talent Acquisition and Employee Engagement
  • Organizational Learning and Continuous Renewal 
  • Recognition and Rewards
In our blogs to come in the coming weeks, we’ll explore some of these these areas in more detail.  We hope to show that high-performance isn’t just a corporate term; it’s the goal for every leader.  



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