building blocks

A bounce house is a bit like an organization. When you remove one component- the air blower in the case of the bounce house- it crashes to the ground, potentially injuring those along for the ride.

I have been part of organizations that seemed to collapse out of nowhere, and it left me wondering what went wrong. Many organizations have not created the right structure or foundation for consistent stability. If one component or key person is removed from the organization, the rest of it comes crashing down.

What does it take for an organization to survive a massive blow? How can you recover and eventually thrive? Here are four steps to building an organization that lasts:

1. Be clear on your convictions. Whether you call them convictions or values, you have to be clear on what they are. This will help you avoid the future regret of ending up in a place you never wanted to be. The people within your organization need clarity to keep you going in the right direction. You have to know what you stand for so you won’t chase after everything that comes your way.

2. Make the right partnerships and avoid the wrong ones. As an organization becomes more successful, opportunities grow. Jumping at every opportunity can be the downfall of an organization. Companies can lose focus on the things that made them successful in the first place if they don’t critically think through potential partnerships. Ask yourself if the opportunity aligns with your purpose, convictions, and vision. Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, says, “When it isn’t a clear yes, then it’s a clear no.” Good partnerships are built on relationships over time. When you have close relationships with others, it is easier to tell who would make a good partner.

3. Develop your team. We need to get away from the messiah complex. One person alone can never accomplish what a competent and dedicated team can. Craig Groeschel, the pastor of Life Church, said, “The potential of your organization rests in the strength of its people.”

There should be an intentional plan for developing all the people in your organization. As they grow, they make the organization better. For ways to develop leaders, read this post.

4. When possible, promote from within. If you are developing your team properly and your organization is healthy, promoting from within should be a frequent course of action. Those who are already in your organization understand your culture and can be more loyal. There is a chance that someone from the outside may look like the right fit on paper but not have the chemistry or ability to adapt to your culture. There are times when it is not possible to promote from within, especially if you are in a turnaround situation or growing faster than your people are developing. For more information on what to look for in a leader, check out this post.

Over the last few years, my team and I have implemented these four things. Even though we recently lost a key person, the team stepped right up and filled the void. Losing a vital person in our organization could have spelled disaster, but because we have focused on building an organization that lasts we are stronger than we have ever been before.

Which one of these do you need to start working on today? What else could be added to this list?


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