15 years ago I was on a Board for a not for profit that provided environmental education to primary schools. It was a well-known iconic brand, that even the Weekly Times would support with free posters. This was the Gould League.
However slowly through the 80’s and 90’s as the education sector support drifted away and environmental consciousness expanded with the onset of climate change, the organisation started to evolve and broaden out into related “environmental” programs. Sounds logical?
Part of this was funding (availability) driven both the change in support funding from the education sector and the draw of broader environmental change funding such as sustainability.
So the organisation was constantly battling to maintain its original purpose – primary school environmental education compared to delivering Environmental Sustainability actions such as rainwater conservation. It wasn’t until a discussion regarding bidding for funding related to just water conservation anywhere and not just at schools, did it become so evident that the organisation might have lost its way. Heard this before?
Even though the moral high ground of the broader environment agenda would seem right, the organisation a few years after I left the Board (due to this misalignment) went into re-mission – administration.
If and when you get to this point where purpose, brand essences and business logical aren’t aligned, the steps needed to be taken are hard and difficult and in many cases are conflicted as the world has also changed. When you need to rebuild, you need to understand the fabric – you need to find the fabric. This might seem simple but rarely is and will take time as it isn’t just an “internal” dilemma – reconnect with the original purpose is also a realignment with the market place and society that is more complex and sophisticated. And it definitely isn’t just charismatic verbalisation of a concept – it is about making it real.
As stated by Steve Jobs – “focus and simplicity” might be harder than being “Lost in the Mist” and as clearly articulated by the famous management guru – Peter Drucker…