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Mission one, Mission two


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Why organizations lose their purpose over time

Published in: Business, Spiritual, Technology
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Mission one, Mission two

  1. 1. Mission One, Mission Two Why Our Peer and Consumer Organizations Get Off Track I’m Norm DeLisle and I’m the Executive Director of Michigan Disability Rights Coalition: Our Mission: “MDRC is a disability justice movement working to transform communities” Our Motto: “ With Liberty and Access for All” Our Attitude: “Feisty and Non-Compliant” I have been working in the disability community since late 1970, and I have a long history of depression, anxiety and PTSD symptoms. Right now, I am doing as well as I ever have in my life. I’m happy to have this chance to talk to you about a very important issue. You should feel free to take care of your needs when they arise, and ask questions when you think of them. Why is it so difficult to keep our consumer organizations on track? It is because we can’t serve just one master and still have a successful organization. And the fight between those two masters
  2. 2. is demanding and stressful.
  3. 3. Is Your Purpose Fading? Is it getting tougher to see where you are heading? We start off strong, full of passion and advocacy fervor. Over time, that passion fades as we come to grips with the reality of running an organization. Eventually, it seems as though we have lost our way, our purpose, and we are overwhelmed with paperwork, human resources problems, funder political issues, and sheer exhaustion. Why? The short answer is that organizations, just like people, forests, cars, and mountains, age. This presentation is the story of how organizations age, and what you can do to slow and redirect the aging process.
  4. 4. How Organizations Age Organizations age (some would say, “mature”) because of the relationship between two obligations they must fulfill. Sometimes these two obligations support one another, and sometimes they conflict. The small everyday choices made about how these two obligations interact are the force that ages the organization. I call them Mission One and Mission Two. Mission One is the purpose of the organization, the original reason why it was created. Mission Two is the sustaining of the organization; basically, all the ways the organization maintains, repairs, and grows itself.
  5. 5. Mission One Mission One is the purpose for which the group or organization was created. Mission One reflects the valued outcomes for your staff and members, the people who benefit from your existence. Mission One motivates board and staff members, or participants/members because the valued outcomes of Mission One are so powerful, especially in social justice groups. Mission One (not the PR version of mission one) always contains elements that can be expressed in moving and meaningful stories by your constituents.
  6. 6. Mission Two Mission Two is the continuation or expansion of the group or organization. Continuation is so ordinary an aspect of group or organization work that it is readily confused with Mission One. But, Mission Two is not Mission One, and can either support or destroy Mission One. This tension between Mission One and Mission Two is what drives the aging of the group or organization. Sustaining your organization is not just about money. It is about paperwork, reports, performance appraisals, maintenance, repair, skills, capacities, experience, commitment, morale, policies, hiring and firing, and the rest of what we take to be the ordinary day to day tasks of any group or organization. All of these can be thought about and implemented without reference to Mission One. While we often believe (correctly) that Mission Two is necessary for the survival of Mission One, it is also and always true that every minute, every dime, every anxiety spent on Mission Two is taken
  7. 7. directly away from Mission One. An obvious example is the organizational provision of funding reserves. Reserves are funds that are deliberately not used for Mission One in order to secure the ongoing survival of the organization or group in the face of future funding uncertainty. The time spent building these reserves, planning for their stability and growth, and their exclusion from consideration for use to provide or reach Mission One are all examples of how Mission Two detracts from the achievement of Mission One.
  8. 8. A "Concrete" Example Creating and Maintaining the American Freeway System: ● ● ● ● ● ● I grew up in Midland, Michigan, but the rest of my family lived in Detroit Pre-Freeway, the trip to visit Detroit was 4 hours on two lane roads traveling through many little towns When the freeway was finished, the first trip was one hour and 15 minutes Then repairs and maintenance started, and traffic use increased Now, if there is no gridlock, the trip is 2 and a half hours And its getting worse as more maintenance is required The purpose of the freeway is becoming (more and more) an object for repair and maintenance and the money that can be made by doing that, and (less and less) a tool for rapid comfortable transportation.
  9. 9. Some More Examples ● New Humans: Brand new humans are full of possibilities, but as we age, we spend more time maintaining ourselves and less time learning and exploring possibilities ● Government: Programs start out with one purpose and gradually add rules and additional purposes, until they sometimes end up doing the exact opposite of what they started out to do. ● Large Corporations: When businesses start, they typically have one outcome-a product or a service. As they get bigger, they may go public and suddenly have shareholders who don’t care about the product, only how much money they are making. Often, the largest enterprises are only about money, and we find financial services corporations betting against their own customers in order to make money for individual brokers and managers.
  10. 10. Seeing the Tension In our ordinary work lives, it can be hard to see the tension between Mission 1 and Mission 2. Generally, there needs to be a crisis before that tension is revealed. The crisis can be large, but doesn’t need to be. A crisis doesn’t guarantee that we will see the tension between Mission 1 and Mission 2. We tend to meld the two missions together and see the crisis as one for the organization, not one for the conflict between Mission 1 and Mission 2. We try to solve the crisis without any deep consideration of the impact it is having on our version of Mission 1 and Mission 2. I am going to give some examples of crises that point to the tension between Mission 1 and Mission 2.
  11. 11. Organizational Crises In the very early life of a new organization or group, it is often possible to focus only on Mission One-at least for a time. But eventually, issues related to how the group or organization will continue arise and begin to dominate the attention of stakeholders: ● Financial Crises ○ Financial Controls ○ Low Level Embezzlement ○ Employee Equity ○ Fundraising flaws ● Governance Crises ○ Board membership stability ○ Board focus on micromanagement ○ Autocratic founders ○ General Political/Social conflicts ● Resource Crises (funds, skills, work demands) ○ Example: A Crisis of Capacity for Mission One ■ MPAS individual advocacy model: I worked at Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service for 13 years. In the first few years, I was an advocate for
  12. 12. ■ ■ individuals in a 6 county area in the Thumb. About half of my work was representing families and students in conflicts over special education services. At first, because we advocates knew the law and regulations regarding school education obligations, it was very easy to win these conflicts. In addition, because we quickly became good at winning, it was always easier to just solve the student’s issue by ourselves rather than involving the family in deep learning about how to advocate for themselves. This produced two consequences. One was that the school district’s gradually got better at understanding special education rules, and they hired attorneys on retainer to handle conflicts that came up. They were smarter about the issues over which they fought with us, and the issues themselves became much more complex, requiring more of our time. The second problem was that once we helped a family, we could expect them to tell their friends and show up the next year expecting us to advocate for their son or daughter again. This led inevitably to an inability on our part to respond to the advocacy demands, though it took several years to reach this point. This problem of advocacy strategy (Mission 1) and resources (Mission 2) caused a strategic crisis. How could MPAS handle this overload? ● Simply increasing funding might slow the emergence of the crisis, but wouldn’t change it fundamentally. MDOE estimated that 10% of education planning meetings were contentious and would require an advocate to sort them out, a total of roughly 20,000 a year, requiring roughly 200 full time advocates who did nothing but special
  13. 13. ● ○ education advocacy. This was and is out of the question. ● Changing the culture of the education system was an option, but hasn’t moved much off the dime in the last quarter century. It would require the commitment of the organization to a new Mission 1 that would take decades. However useful such an outcome would be, the time and funding required were unrealistic over that long term. ● We could shift to a community organizing model in which each advocate would operate as an organizer with families in their geographic area to create local advocates and serve as a support system and a facilitator of skill development for that region. ● We could keep the basic mission and change the model to target priority cases for advocacy and use an I&R model for the rest. ■ MPAS chose the last of these because it preserved the special legal skills accumulated over the previous decade. Personally, I would have chosen the community organizing model, but, then, I’m not an attorney who had committed their career to disability law, nor someone who had worked for decades to create accessible legal services for people with disabilities. ■ But this strategic choice dictated the future of MPAS-how it supports and continues its activities, how it judges the issues that its customers bring to it, how it allocates all of its resources. ■ So, this one crisis required a complete reformulation of organization’s strategy. Reaching a limit in a critical resource is a very common
  14. 14. ○ problem (a Mission 2 problem) that requires a reformulation of Mission 1. If you haven’t run into your version of this yet, you will, if you are successful.
  15. 15. So What Can We Do? Oh No!!! Here is what we can’t do: ● ● Drop either Mission 1 or Mission 2 Come up with an artificial balance between Mission 1 and Mission 2 (maybe mission 1 days and mission 2 days) ● Create Rules to Ensure Our Commitment to Mission 1 (noting mission focused activities on our time sheets and reporting the amounts to the Board) . These are all Mission 2 ways of dealing with the problems of Mission 1 capacity issues. They will undermine Mission 1, even though they might well support continuation of the organization.
  16. 16. So, Really, What Can We Do? Some Places to Start: ● ● ● ● ● ● Create Separate Mission Statements for Mission 1 and Mission 2 Board members perform Mission 1 critical activities Managers perform Mission 1 critical activities Mission 2 staff perform Mission 1 critical activities Undermine creeping Mission 2ism Mission 1 Advocacy when making Mission 2 policy changes
  17. 17. Mission Statements A common pattern for mission statements in nonprofit organizations is that they become more general and less meaningful over time, as the focus of the organization shifts from their original purpose to marketing the organization to stakeholders and funders who do not necessarily “get” the original purpose. Think, “Our organization will become the best (definition of services) provider in this (region, state, national, global, or cosmic) area”. I am not implying that we shouldn’t try to make our mission understandable to people who aren’t deeply involved in our community, and who don’t understand our code words and jargon. What I’m really saying is that purpose (Mission 1) and marketing (Mission 2) are different worlds. I’m suggesting that organizations have two mission statements: ● One for deep purpose ● One for communicating your work to the truly outside world
  18. 18. Making use of a concept like this would require you to decide whether a message or communication is for Mission 1 or a MIssion 2, and then use the appropriate statement. It also requires you to create two mission statements, and we all know how frustrating it is to create one. On the other hand, going through the process of making two mission statements allows those who participate to clearly see the difference between Mission 1 and 2, and incorporates that difference into their thinking about what work they do and why they do it. This is equally true for board members as well as staff-even for volunteers if you include them in your mission statement development work.
  19. 19. Board and Mission 1 The Big Picture Boards are often overwhelmed by their Mission 2 responsibilities, and have a very abstract notion of what Mission 1 is for the organization they govern. Over time, Mission 2 displaces their focus on Mission 1, making it distant and largely irrelevant to the immediate demands of funding and human resources issues. Finding effective and enjoyable ways for board members to participate in truly Mission 1 activities is difficult. But it is the only effective way I have seen to sharpen the difference in the minds of board members about the real distinctions between Mission 1 and Mission 2. Note that lived experience, while helpful in maintaining the distinction between Mission 1 and Mission 2, is no guarantee over the long term. Constant and unremitting exposure to the demands and crises of Mission 2 will whittle awareness of Mission 1 down to nothing over a few years. As Kurt Vonnegut said of his novel, Mother Night, "We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be."
  20. 20. Managers and Mission 1 Making Sausage Managers, regardless of their background or commitment to Mission 1, have their work lives gradually taken over by Mission 2. Managerial work is a lot like making sausage-attempting to make the best tasting concoction you can out of largely unpalatable components-and the “vision thing” is often degraded into trying to avoid various kinds of Mission 2 disasters. This kind of managerial reality has a corrosive effect on commitment to Mission 1. A manager’s day consists of interruptions and crises from above and below. Managers become cynical about the possibilities of genuine change, and feel caught in an economic trap by the need for a job that pays as well as the one they have. Managers also need to perform Mission 1 critical activities. They must actually help a constituent of the organization achieve a valued outcome. They must keep the link they once had with the day to day lives of those they serve. This link to the lived experience of a person is the distinction between empty activities that look like Mission 1 outcomes and real Mission 1 outcomes.
  21. 21. Mission 2 Staff and Mission 1 In all but the smallest organizations, some staff focus exclusively on Mission 2 outcomes. A typical example would be staff who focus on financial and accounting tasks. You want these staff to be honest and direct about the impact of decisions on the organization’ s finances. You certainly don’t want to discourage them from reporting problems. At the same time, senior managers need to make decisions about Mission 2 problems with Mission 1 in mind. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you would choose Mission 1 over Mission 2 in a financial crisis. More likely it means that you have to work harder to come up with a solution that doesn’t undermine either Mission. In addition to this basic managerial strategy, you need to find a way to help Mission 2 staff understand your Mission 1 less abstractly. A way to do this is to have occasional opportunities for Mission 2 staff to “shadow” Mission 1 staff in their direct work with the constituents who are invested in your Mission 1 outcomes. The contact with lived experience of those who benefit from your Mission 1 will
  22. 22. deepen staff understanding of why you do what you do. It is also possible (and has been done in Michigan’s CMH system) for Mission 2 staff to build communication materials that tell constituents what the financial rules that impact constituent lives actually mean. The process of struggling to make financial concepts and rules, easily understood by financial staff, equally understandable to persons with no financial background, will go a long way to building a better understanding of Mission 1.
  23. 23. Creeping Mission 2ism This house is no longer a home. For this house, Mission 2 has replaced Mission 1, at least until it is rebuilt. As our earlier discussion shows, the replacement of Mission 1 by Mission 2 is not really a single choice. It is many, many choices generally made over a long period of time, and resulting in Mission 2 gradually becoming the most important, maybe even the only, valued thing that the organization does. An example of a common choice point occurs when a staff person pursues a valued Mission 1 outcome, but undermines a valued Mission 2 outcome (maybe by spending money not allocated to a specific budget line).The common response of managers is to punish the failed Mission 2 outcome, giving the clear message that Mission 2 is more important than Mission 1. Other examples would include the use of a policy to deny or
  24. 24. exclude a Mission 1 outcome; refusing to advocate for a Mission 1 outcome because of the political consequences; fudging your Mission 1 values to a funder either to obtain or keep funding. Note that these actions are not necessarily bad or even avoidable. Rather, they are sacrificing Mission 1 to continue the organization (Mission 2). Mission 2ism arises because we have to make many many Mission 2 decisions or choices for every Mission 1 decision or choice we make.
  25. 25. Advocating for Mission 1 Diogenes and His Dog Looking for an Honest Man A person with a good understanding of your Mission 1 can be given the responsibility of advocating for Mission 1 values when Mission 2 decisions are made, a sort of devil’s advocate. This responsibility will anger people who are trying to produce valued outcomes for Mission 2, and the devil’s advocate will need protection and a clear organization wide understanding of the purpose of their advocacy. Any final decision on any issue is the responsibility of senior managers, but those decisions are supposed to be informed, not arbitrary, and making sure that the implications for Mission 1 are public and transparent is an organizational obligation.
  26. 26. More Ideas No magic formulas here-just some ideas to provoke your thinking: ● Automate every aspect of Mission 2 outcomes you can, so that staff don’t have to think about them or develop anxiety about them. Anxiety makes any triggering event more important than it really is. Technology has great possibilities for supporting this process. ● Make Mission 1 outcomes a standard part of the discussions in every staff meeting, and put them earlier on the meeting agenda ● Give higher point values to Mission 1 outcomes in performance evaluations and put them earlier in the evaluation than Mission 2 outcomes. Better yet, get rid of performance reviews, which are always biased toward Mission 2 ● Avoid creating personnel policies for low incidence behaviors. Use progressive discipline instead ● Produce HR policies through full staff consensus as much as humanly possible
  27. 27. ● ● Use “nudges” instead of policies for HR compliance issues “Efficiency” is a Mission 2 value, and it is only useful when applied to an outcome where you can predict the future. So, many of your financial outcomes can be viewed through the lens of efficiency. This won’t work for many of your Mission 1 outcomes, like, say, self-determination plans. Forcing efficiency in outcomes that are marked by the uncertainty of life will destroy the purpose of such outcomes.
  28. 28. Resources Copper Mining in the UP Online Versions of the Slide Presentation: Slideshare (PDF): Organizational Resources: SAMHSA (value-driven resources): World Institute on Disability (value-driven resources): http://wid. org/resources Mind Tools (general resources): html Strategic Vision (general): Idealist (a combination of general and value-driven): http://goo. gl/DKTcBT Nudges Resources: Rethinking Behavior: Change, Nudge-style: Nudge blog: Progressive Discipline: What is Progressive Discipline?: Performance Evaluation: 10 Reasons to Get Rid of Performance Reviews: http://goo.
  29. 29. gl/KyAjan
  30. 30. Your Presenter I am Norm DeLisle, Executive Director of Michigan Disability Rights Coalition: Short Bio: hubby2jill, 2dogs, advocatefor40+yrs, change strategist, trainer, geezer, pa2Loree, gndpa2Nevin Email: Twitter: Facebook: Blogs: Recovery Michigan: Intentional Change: Disability Futures: Health and Disability: Economic Justice:
  31. 31. Evaluations Don’t forget to fill out the evaluation form!
  32. 32. Last Thoughts Justice is the set and constant purpose which gives every man his due. --Marcus Tullius Cicero Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction. --John F. Kennedy Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose. --Helen Keller The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things. --Rainer Maria Rilke Getting an audience is hard. Sustaining an audience is hard. It demands a consistency of thought, of purpose, and of action over a long period of time. --Bruce Springsteen Hold to the Mission 1 that means the most to you.
  33. 33. Thanks for Participating I Appreciate Your Interest!
  34. 34. Further Along The Road... The slides that follow will show you information that goes beyond the presentation but will expand your understanding if you want to review it. The focus of the following slides is on the more general problem of having two purposes that sometimes support and sometimes conflict with each other. A visual guide to this notion is to connect the two complements with a ~, as in Mission 1 ~ Mission 2. The tilde indicates that the two purposes sometimes support and sometimes conflict.
  35. 35. Mission 1 ~ Mission 2 It is obvious that sometimes Mission 1 and 2 support each other and sometimes they interfere with each other. How should we understand their relationship? After all, I hope I have made it clear that you can’t simply ignore one or the other and have a viable organization. Pure Mission 1=Explosion, which dies out quickly Pure Mission 2=Zombie, with no meaningful purpose (except of course, eating brains!!) The real issue is how to manage the coordination of these complements in our day to day organizational lives. Some of the ways that have been tried in the past to understand relationships between partly incompatible processes like these include: ● ● One is good and one is bad One is more important than the other
  36. 36. ● Both are important at different times in some cycle or process Any of these are true sometimes, so picking one isn’t very helpful as a guide. You’ll end up being wrong too often. We want an understanding that is more like the yin-yang model, but less abstract. Most of us don’t have the time or desire to sit in a cave for 20 years meditating on the philosophical possibilities of Taoism to discover lessons for daily life. We need a model that is more concrete.
  37. 37. The Adapative Cycle A model of greater usefulness in looking at the relationship between Mission 1 and Mission 2 was created for understanding how forests and other ecosystems age and renew. It is called the Adaptive Cycle. It is a biological model of how Mission 1 and Mission 2 interact over the life of an ecosystem=organization in a cycle of four phases: 1. 2. 3. Reorganization/Renewal: When purpose is the only driving force (Mission 1), we try whatever seems possible, up to the point where we run into resource scarcity. Growth/Exploitation: We find we must develop a strategy for growth or maintenance (Mission 2), and we begin to view our resources as assets that must be nurtured, cultivated, harvested, and exploited. Conservation: As we bump into the ultimate limits on our growth, including our capacities, our markets, and our competition, we begin to view resources (funding, capabilities, experience) as long term assets that must be protected, defended, and, often, hidden from scrutiny.
  38. 38. 1. Release: As conservation continues, and we focus more and more on Mission 2, we become organizationally brittle, lose our sense of our original purpose, and our assets and advantages begin to break down and drift away. Our context becomes ripe for new purposes and less hidebound beliefs, often done well outside our current organization. Our ecosystems have a built-in way to remove the no longer useful. Those biological organisms are simply eliminated, the ecosystem itself is simplified, and there remains an environment in which new organisms can make better use of old resources. Unfortunately, it is entirely possibly for human organizations to genuinely turn into zombies without this process of release and renewal occurring. We can individually and organizationally pretend that we are useful.
  39. 39. Advocacy ~ Engagement Another example of how complicated purpose complements can be is Advocacy~Engagement. Adversarial relationships often create collaboration and engagement. Remember that “War makes for strange bedfellows”. Traditional advocacy is a purely adversarial process in which we defend a position, as in a court battle over legal and substantive outcomes. But even there, some level of cooperation is required to hold the adversarial contest in a court. I noticed in my time as an advocate at MPAS, that we often used a strategy I called “bounded collaboration”. Basically, we would cooperate until some line was crossed. At that point we became adversaries. More recently, I have found that simply taking a position as an advocate has become less and less fruitful over the years, and that engagement of the other parties in the stakeholder environment is necessary to move advocacy along. Most policy implementation problems these days, especially in health and supports, are very complex and contain structural problems that must be resolved
  40. 40. before positional advocacy can work at all.
  41. 41. Public Housing Another Example of a Complement: The complement I’ll look at here is Segregated Housing ~ Distributed Housing. Our value of Inclusion says that people with disabilities should have affordable and accessible housing in the same communities as everyone else. At the same time, the stigma of disability can make real inclusion difficult. And the history of trauma can make acquiring and using the social skills necessary to actually include yourself in one of those regular communities difficult. Two models of creating affordable and accessible housing have developed (with many variations): ● Segregated Housing: All housing units are part of a single building project with a focus on a single community (say, vets, seniors, poor, adults with disabilities), with supports provided in the building by a single provider
  42. 42. ● Distributed Housing: Each unit is developed and built in the larger community. Supports are provided to the individual or family in that individual unit by a provider hired by the individual or family. There are specific economic and control reasons why The System has wanted to create and maintain segregated models of housing: ● ● ● ● In the creation of plans for housing projects, it is much easier to propose a single site, with infrastructure, design of individual units, tax credit use, and the scaling of supports through a single provider contract There are economies of scale with a single site for maintenance and repair of individual units and the project as a whole. It is much easier to hide and manage unethical use of project funds in a single site It is also easier to enforce control over tenants and sanction them for violations, both of formal and informal rules, making it easier to serve the interests of the managers at the expense of the tenants. Scapegoating and bullying individual tenants into conformity is much more effective when you tie supports and loss of lease together. Failure to conform results in loss of housing, a powerful weapon. There are also social/emotional reasons that perpetuate segregated housing and segregated community models: ● ● Especially in the early phases of recovery, most people prefer to spend their social time with persons who are experiencing struggles similar to their own. The first issue in recovery is usually feeling safe. The preservation of the feeling of safety, basically relief from pain whether physical or social, becomes self-perpetuating in the same way that any relief from any pain does. Not ever leaving one’s comfort zone becomes a permanent way of living.
  43. 43. ● ● One accepts the abusive control that project managers exert as the price for feeling safe. One’s life becomes permanently constrained So, segregated housing supports segregated communities, and vice versa. One way (one of a huge number of variations) of “complementing” these two models would be to always separate supports from residence, so that individual tenants can’t lose tenancy for choosing a different provider of supports. Another would be to put limits on the length of time a person can remain in segregated projects. A third would be to make transition from segregated to distributed housing a standard part of planning supports and skill building from the first day of tenancy in a segregated project. All of these would alter the dynamic of the Segregated Housing ~ Distributed Housing complement.
  44. 44. Other Complements Some More Examples of Complements Important in Our Lives: Health Care ~ Health Costs Support ~ Personal Autonomy Learning ~ Choices Relationships ~ Personal Boundaries Structure ~ Process If you are really interested in this idea of complements, there is no better resource than The Natural Complement by Scott Kelso. You can find it at