Monday, March 06, 2006

5 questions according to Drucker vs. Vaspers

Since the Peter F. Drucker Foundation encourages dissent, I shall now voice my objection, and corrections, to their 5 Questions self-assessment tool.


When we announced in 1990 that we were establishing the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management, many in the social sector approached me, along with Frances Hesselbein and members of our board, saying,

"The most important management resource we need is a method to help us think through what we are doing, why we are doing it, and what we must do."

And so we developed this Self-Assessment Tool, which presents the five most important questions for any nonprofit organization to ask:

(1) What is our mission?

(2) Who is our customer?

(3) What does the customer value?

(4) What are our results?

(5) What is our plan?

The questions are straightforward -- and deceptively simple.

Throughout the self-assessment process, you will examine the fundamental question of your mission: what the mission is and what it should be.

You will determine your primary customer: the person whose life is changed through your work. You will determine your supporting customers: volunteers, partners, donors, and others you must satisfy. You will engage in research to learn directly from customers what they value, decide what your results should be, and develop a plan with long-range goals and measurable objectives.

Encourage Constructive Dissent

All the first-rate decision makers I've observed had a very simple rule:

If you have quick consensus on an important matter, don't make the decision. Acclamation means nobody has done the homework.

The organization's decisions are important and risky, and they should be controversial. There is a very old saying -- it goes back all the way to Aristotle and later became an axiom of the early Christian Church: In essentials unity, in action freedom, and in all things trust. Trust requires that dissent come out in the open.

Nonprofit institutions need a healthy atmosphere for dissent if they wish to foster innovation and commitment. Nonprofits must encourage honest and constructive disagreement precisely because everybody is committed to a good cause: your opinion versus mine can easily be taken as your good faith versus mine.

Without proper encouragement, people have a tendency to avoid such difficult, but vital, discussions or turn them into underground feuds.

Another reason to encourage dissent is that any organization needs its nonconformist.

This is not the kind of person who says, "There is a right way and a wrong way -- and our way." Rather, he or she asks, "What is the right way for the future?" and is ready to change.

Finally, open discussion uncovers what the objections are. With genuine participation, a decision doesn't need to be sold. Suggestions can be incorporated, objections addressed, and the decision itself becomes a commitment to action.



Vaspers 5 Questions
Self-Loathing Tool:

(1) What do my intended customers hate about me, my products, my discourse, my organization, my behaviors?

ELIMINATE: those sales-defeating Martians, those repulsive sandbags, the aspects of you and yours that are obstructing the satisfaction of your audience/market.

(2) What do my intended customers hate about my competition?

FIND: a way to exploit that weakness by providing a better product, service, after-the-sale relationship.

(3) What do my intended customers hate about their lives?

GO: determine what you can provide that will fix that defect, fill that gap in knowledge, soothe that pain, answer that question, enhance that enjoyment, remove that annoyance, solve that problem.

(4) What do I need to hate about my company?

GO: attack yourself at your strongest points, make them bleed, see what remains as residue, market that.

(5) What would my company and products be like...if they were created by my intended customers?

CREATE: the mirror that reflects your customers perfectly--the complimentary, mandatory product.

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