Dueling forces seem to be at work in the nonprofit and philanthropic world. Sometimes, passion reigns supreme. We give our highest praise to dreamers and free thinkers. Their creativity, conviction and courage inspire and excite us. At other times, we seem to be ruled by organizational policies and procedures. We love the passion, but we know that without systems and processes in place, even the noblest aims are scarcely more than fantasies. Structure and accountability protect us from the trap of spinning our wheels with limited impact. Indeed, these two forces -- passion on the one hand and process on the other -- frequently find themselves in conflict in even the best run organizations.
Finding balance between sound organizational procedures and creative disruption is hard. In fact, it is one of the hardest balancing acts for nonprofit professionals and lay leaders alike. When do we stay true to structure, even when there are strong impulses (and good reasons) to make exceptions in support of the greater good? And when should we be flexible, allowing a suspension of procedures in order to capitalize on extraordinary circumstances, exciting ideas or unique opportunities?Read More