“High-performance organization” is a moniker most organizations—private, public, or nonprofit—would love to earn. And yet who can say what “high performance” really means for mission-based nonprofits? More important, how do executives, boards, and funders get there from here?

The Leap Ambassadors Community, a network of more than 50 nonprofit executives, has spent the past year developing clear, actionable answers to these very questions. They can be found here in the free—and jargon-free—document “The Performance Imperative: A framework for social-sector excellence”.

In a nutshell, “High performance,” as the group collaboratively defines it, is the “ability to deliver—over a prolonged period of time—meaningful, measurable, and financially sustainable results for the people or causes the organization is in existence to serve.”

And here, in the Performance Imperative authors’ view, are the seven pillars (or habits) that lead most reliably to high performance:

  1. Courageous, adaptive executive and board leadership
  2. Disciplined, people-focused management
  3. Well-designed and well-implemented programs and strategies
  4. Financial health and sustainability
  5. A culture that values learning
  6. Internal monitoring for continuous improvement
  7. External evaluation for mission effectiveness

The Performance Imperative fleshes out each one of these disciplines in more detail. Organizations and their stakeholders can use these pillars as a North Star to guide their journey toward high performance.

Check out this short introductory video to learn more, or visit performanceimperative.org.

Reading the Performance Imperative paper and dedicating oneself to achieving the conditions within is a necessary first step…but this is only the beginning. Organizations need to figure out a way to quantitatively measure their achievement of the Performance Imperative, so that they can identify areas of need and improve in a timely manner. More importantly, organizations need to be sure that their performance accountability and impact measurement systems are aligned and mutually reinforcing. Most know that they want to be a high-performance organization, but concrete next steps and plans for action are needed so that measurable improvement can be achieved in a disciplined, timely manner.

achieving-performance-imperative-full-imageAdam Luecking, CEO of Clear Impact and author of The Holy Grail of Public Leadership, will address these concerns and more in his new—and free—paper, “Achieving the Performance Imperative with Results-Based Accountability.” The Leap of Reason Ambassadors come from different backgrounds with different perspectives on how best to achieve the Performance Imperative. As a member of this diverse group, Luecking comes to the table with a background in Results-Based Accountability (RBA)—a strategic planning, management, and budgeting framework described by Mark Friedman in the book Trying Hard Is Not Good Enough.

RBA is a simple, commonsense framework for measuring organizational performance and linking that performance with community wellbeing. It is being used around the world to improve the lives of children, families, and communities as a whole. Using RBA to achieve the Performance Imperative will enable organizations and communities to put each of the seven Performance Imperative pillars into operation in a disciplined way that fosters continuous improvement.

The Performance Imperative is a great step forward in defining the conditions necessary to being a high-performance organization. In his paper, Luecking will provide you with concrete methods and actions to help you measure, monitor, and achieve these conditions of the Performance Imperative and maximize your community impact. Instead of just talking about high performance, Luecking’s paper will help you actually get there with RBA. And those strapped for time need not be apprehensive thinking that they now have two frameworks to learn–Luecking touches on the core principles of both frameworks without inundating you with excessive information.

To read or download “Achieving the Performance Imperative with Results-Based Accountability” for free, click here.

By downloading, organizations will also have access to an attached free “Organizational Assessment”—a survey taken once annually to help organizations gauge where they are at in terms of achieving high performance. Doing so will allow them to quickly and easily measure areas of success and areas of need so that strategies to improve can be focused and resources spent wisely.

The Performance Imperative and Results-Based Accountability are two complementary frameworks that have the potential to maximize impact when implemented in unison. We encourage reading both before proceeding on a high performance journey!



Read the First Paragraph of “Achieving the Performance Imperative with Results-Based Accountability” below:

In “The Performance Imperative: A Framework for Social Sector Excellence,” a group of more than 50
nonprofit and public sector leaders making up the Leap of Reason Ambassadors Community set out to
define what it means to be a high-performance non-profit organization.

According to the document, “The purpose of the community is to inspire, motivate, and support
nonprofit and public sector leaders (and their stakeholders) to build great organizations for greater
societal impact and to increase the expectation and adoption of high performance as the path to this
end.” High performance, as the group collaboratively defines it, is the “ability to deliver—over a
prolonged period of time—meaningful, measurable, and financially sustainable results for the people
or causes the organization is in existence to serve.”

Resulting from this collaborative effort is the “Performance Imperative”—a framework that establishes seven pillars of a high-performance organization: