It’s so very easy in our personal lives to live by imperatives — those must-haves we need to exist, to enjoy our lives, to be successful, and to be fulfilled. Some of my own imperatives for my personal life include: the need to have good food, well-prepared meals, and someone to share them with; the need to have laughter and social situations that inspire laughter; the need to have a partnership with someone I love and admire; the need to communicate clearly and be understood; the need for shoes . . . ok, that’s more of an obsession than a need, but I NEED to have a wide variety of fashionable and sometimes comfortable footwear to feel inspired! You get the picture.
However, when we leave our homes, apartments, schools, and move into our professional life, our imperatives for the organizations we lead and work for can become somewhat murky. I’ve watched many capable nonprofits struggle when it comes to defining their imperatives. They wrestle with the needs of their group, their culture, their operations, their mission. They have a difficult time determining the difference between an imperative, a strategy, and a tactic. Defining your imperatives for your organization must start with a look into how you and others perceive your work, your mission, and your outcomes. It must review where you are successful and where you have failed. And it must be objective, taking into account the inherent strengths and weaknesses of the organization.
Given a deep dive into these areas, you may discover that you need talented marketing people, employees, or volunteers. You might need to recruit board members who bring specific strengths to the organization or executive leadership experienced in a specific industry. Or maybe you just need more space to do your work, or an area to call your own. Imperatives can be complex or simple, but universally they are truths that, if denied, ensure certain failure for your effort. Take the time to determine your organization’s imperatives today, and allow them to drive your actions and outcomes to success