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Change is Hard

As COVID-19 taught us, what we know to be “normal” can change at any given moment—a hard reminder that the future is never predictable. At the height of the pandemic, the world’s companies, organizations, institutions, and workplaces got a crash course in change management. The ones that survived—and are surviving—are the ones that built agility into their operations. These are the brands that are designed for disruption. 

What does that look like in the social sector? Mission-driven organizations are designed for disruption when they have:

A well-defined brand identity

Organizations that pivot successfully are those that do not need to completely reinvent themselves when trouble hits. At their core, they know who they are and why they matter to the world. They have built a culture within their organization that lives and breathes their vision, mission, values, and purpose. These are more than statements emblazoned on a conference room wall—they serve as a north star when deciding ways to shift programming and other operational elements.

A culture of can-do

When disruption hits and your organization’s very survival is at risk, the last thing you want to hear is “that’s not my job.” Organizations that are designed for disruption nurture multi-skilled players whose abilities complement each other’s and who value their contribution to the mission, not just their job description. An organization’s ability to shift in a crisis is either limited or enhanced by its team’s ability to come together in times of stress, distribute responsibility, and know that change is possible.

Multiple ways to engage stakeholders

Organizations that rely on one program, distributed a single way to one audience, are at risk of extinction when some unexpected circumstance arises and disrupts any one of those things. Organizations that are designed for disruption are built to withstand the unexpected. Stakeholders have more than one entry point to access programming, volunteer, or support the mission. These are organizations that have modernized over time, taken advantage of new platforms and technology, and paid attention to social trends to find new ways to engage with their stakeholders.

Trust in their teams

Organizations whose entire offerings rely on a single leader do not survive in times of crisis. Leaders who can rely on their team, who understand the skills and talents their team possesses, and who regard team dynamics as inherently valuable are the leaders that will lead their organizations through times of difficulty. A strong, collaborative team is a hallmark of resilience—micromanagement is not.

These are the organizations that thrive in times of change. These are the leaders that view disruption as an invitation to learn and grow.