One of the nuances in Jim Collin’s Good to Great and the Social Sectors is that his Hedgehog Concept gets an important tweak.  Understandably, most non-profits hesitate when asked, "What drives your economic engine?" It’s not a question that really makes sense in the non-profit equation.  In order to help the Hedgehog Concept make sense in the social sector, Collins reframed it.  He wrote, "The third circle of the Hedgehog Concept shifts from being an economic engine to a resource engine.
    The critical question is not ‘How much money do we make?’ but ‘How can we develop a sustainable resource engine to deliver superior performance relative to our mission?’"

In addition, he identified a way to determine whether your organization is really making a distinctive impact.  It revolves around whether, "your organization makes such a unique contribution to the communities it touches and does its work with such unadulterated excellence that if it were to disappear, it would leave a hole that could not be easily filled by any other institution on the planet?"  Put simply, would anyone miss you?

Ever really thought through that question?  I’m sure most of us have asked it.  But have you ever really drilled down and thought about whether what you’re doing is something that would be truly missed?

Peter Drucker wrote that, "Every hospital, every school, every business, has to believe that what it is doing is an essential contribution on which all the others in the community depend in the last analysis (The Daily Drucker, February 9th)."

An essential contribution.  Interesting choice of words.  Drucker was beyond Collins.  Can you see it?  He’s not asking if you’d be missed.  He’s asking if you’re essential.  Like air or water.

Are you making an essential contribution?  As in…if a community didn’t have your help, could the community survive?  That would make for a very challenging goal.  What about it?  What would have to happen for you to be essential?

Making an Essential Contribution
  • Glad to know I’m not the only one who keeps up to date with the Daily Drucker:-)
    He’s right on target with his “essential” point. I’m pleased to say that the non-profit I work for is doing essential work and making progress toward its mission.

  • That’s great! And thanks for joining the conversation!