We host quarterly Executive Forums for Nonprofit CEOs

Does Organizational Assessment Help or Hurt?


Does an Organizational Assessment help or hurt?

The answer is: it depends.

How NOT to use an Organizational Assessment

The CEO of a nonprofit organization received a 150-page Organizational Assessment report from a consultant.  It was required by a group of funders considering a request for on-going operating support. It took months to complete.

Did it help the funders make their decision? Maybe.

Did it help the organization? Not certain.

As a manager at that organization, I couldn’t tell if the assessment was helpful.  I never saw any specific changes we made as a result of it.  It was at least a five-figure expenditure.  (Terrible to see philanthropic funds being wasted!)

Other such reports are disastrous for the CEO. I witnessed one report, detailing specific observable weaknesses, be used by politically motivated staff and board members to completely undermine and get rid of the leader. Ahhh!

That is not what I hope or want an Organizational Assessment to do.  Because of these experiences, I avoided them for years.

An Organizational Assessment Structure That Can Work

Therefore, when Bridge II Sports, a long-time client, asked us to help them complete an Organizational Assessment, I was a little hesitant.

The Assessment was funded by the Oak Foundation with help from the Triangle Community Foundation.

What did we like about the Organizational Assessment?
  • First, the Funders made funds available to implement recommendations that came from the Assessment.
  • Second, the Assessment was entirely voluntary (no big grant contingent on it).
  • Last, the Funders were not asking us to write a book.
Setting Conscious Intention
  • Further, we consciously decided the assessment would not define what was ‘wrong’ with the organization or fulfill every wish.
  • Then, Bridge II Sports and HIGOL agreed to use the Assessment strategically to gain momentum to achieve key organizational goals.
How the process worked

We surveyed ten areas of the organization. Then, with Bridge II Sports leading the way, we picked six areas to really focus on and commit to making measurable improvements.  Now, HIGOL is assisting in five of these areas in an Implementation Phase over six months.

What did the client like about the Organizational Assessment process?

One team member shared: “We appreciated that HIGOL took the time to speak with each team member individually and in confidence. This allowed people to feel safe in sharing openly and honestly.”

It helped us better understand the broader needs of the organization.

Bridge II Sports business manager said: “We appreciate addressing critical infrastructure needs of the organization. This includes ways technology can improve how we work together and ensure the data behind all our work is safe and secure for the future, regardless of personnel changes.”

The Executive Director appreciates experts in marketing, process improvement, and IT analyzed the organization’s needs specifically.

Bridge II Sports likes the comprehensive approach. We provided positive, sometimes simple solutions, within a restricted budget, as well as made no-cost recommendations.

Perhaps most critically, we supported each team in the company to laser focus on the most important results for the next six months.  They are on the road to increasing participation in their adaptive sports athletic programs by 100%!

HIGOL flexes and discovers its capacity

We assembled a multidimensional team to focus on a multi-dimensional Organizational Assessment. Each team member clearly understood their scope of work.  It was a chance to let their expertise shine.

Margaret McNabb provided very down-to-earth marketing recommendations.

Norton Street Business Services quickly analyzed the IT needs of the company.  They came up with a cost-effective yet powerful solution to more effectively share information while significantly increasing data security and reliability.

HIGOL’s capacity to manage cross-functional organizational improvements was greatly enhanced by  Britany Trama’s project management skills.  She is an expert in setting up effective systems, improving and managing processes.

While I was skeptical of the value of organizational assessments, no one on the Bridge II Sports team doubts the positive affects the Organizational Assessment is having on the organization.

For me, this is success.

Related Articles

Scroll to Top