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Focusing On Mission To Drive Impactful Change

Updated: Jun 6

When it comes to innovation, one of the things I talk about a lot is the importance of being mission focused. Having a clear mission for your organisation is a critical element for innovation, as it gives your people direction and a reason to innovate.

Recently I came across an organisation based out of Brisbane by the name of Inclusee, and I spoke with their CEO Rachael Cook about how by focusing on their organisation’s mission, they were able to go from servicing a small group of people in suburban Brisbane, to increasing the amount of participants they can support and expanding that access to people all over Australia.

Founded more than 50 years ago, the organisation started as a local community centre that provided services in-person. Around 6 years ago Rachael took her board and organisation on a journey to reevaluate the way the organisation operated, by getting back to the mission. The mission was always about keeping people connected, but the way the organisation delivered that mission hadn’t shifted with the times. Operating as a community centre with a physical location was limiting the impact the organisation could have, so Rachael and her team felt if they shifted their services online they could serve more Australians and do things better than if they remained the same.

Rachael explained that it was the focus on the mission that allowed making this huge decision a lot easier.

She also shared her top tips for other organisations who are looking to change the way they work, so they can have a larger impact on the people they support. Here they are;

Examining What Is Holding You Back

Regularly assessing what hinders an organisation from evolving is crucial for innovation. Rachael described this as your organisation’s ‘tether’. Examining your organisation’s tether, is one of the key elements that may be impeding the organisation’s progress in achieving its full potential. Whether it's outdated practices, rigid structures, or attachment to physical spaces, identifying and addressing these barriers is essential for innovation and driving impactful change within the not-for-profit sector.

Robust Strategic Thinking And Planning

On top of leaders having the courage to critically question what is preventing the organisation from moving forward, taking time for robust strategic planning is critical to truly evaluate an organisation's options and to set future direction. Too often strategic planning is a ‘tick a box exercise’ rather than a creative and exploratory process. In order for it to be successful, we really need to challenge ourselves and explore all possible options that would assist us in delivering the mission of the organisation.

Staying True to Mission But Not The Past

Constantly evaluating decisions against a clearly defined mission will ensure you navigate towards the right opportunities. Mission focused not-for-profits can confidently innovate while still honouring their history.

When you are focused on mission and not the services or programs you deliver, you realise that mission makes you who we are, programs and services are just how you deliver that impact, and these methods need to change and adapt with the times. Just because a program or service was successful in the past or is what you are known for, it is often not worth holding onto if it isn’t delivering enough impact and aligned to your mission.

It's important to regularly examine what may be holding our organisations back from achieving their full potential. By asking difficult questions, engaging in robust strategic planning, and prioritising purpose over past practices, we can pave the way for innovation and growth while staying true to the mission.

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