POPUP follows a holistic approach but realised that our core focus should be skills training and development, while the social and medical services are mainly support services.
Mission-drift threatens every organisation, causing it to shift from its original vision or purpose. It is necessary for the leadership to put preventative measures in place in order to keep the focus where it was always intended to be. An unexpected opportunity can side-track you with ease. It is essential to have a sense of purpose regarding what functions you exist to fulfil. Be aware of your personal strengths and weaknesses, then select colleagues whose strengths will bridge the gaps you possess so that you display a unified focus. An organisation cannot operate on its own, and requires partners within a well-developed network of people and organisations to strengthen it and help it function optimally.
Reviewing your strategic objectives on a quarterly basis will show if you are still on the chosen track. We hold an annual governance process where Board members, together with the leadership reflect on and measure the outcomes against the intended mission and strategic objectives.
Lessons learnt from challenges and mistakes
It is necessary to know yourself or you will find uncertainty creeps in. You may then be influenced by colleagues or funders to adjust your approach and so compromise what the organisation stands for.
Mission drift can lead to an organisational identity crisis which may derail both the focus and the mission. This is more likely to happen as the organisation ages and its original purpose is forgotten. It is a gradual process which occurs over a number of years, especially where the leadership changes and the new leader comes in with different ideas. This can cause the staff to find their calling is no longer relevant and that they simply have a job.
We have learned that not knowing yourself may cause leaders to be influenced, feel intimidated or cause disunity due to negative behaviour. This, in turn, causes the staff to lose trust and feel insecure. A negative cycle may lead to objectives not being met or negative internal communication and distrust arising between the leaders and the staff. Bringing the organisation back on track can be a very difficult task.
A big funder may dictate certain actions not quite in line with the organisation’s stated mission. Allowing such manipulation may derail the organisation due to fear of losing the funding partner. The right leader must be chosen by the Board and held accountable for upholding the mission of the organisation. If this is not done, funders will lose interest while staff will feel unfulfilled and may resign.
People Upliftment Programme (POPUP) was established at the end of 1999 and has a holistic approach to the upliftment of under-privileged communities. Since 2005 they have operated a fully-fledged skills training and development centre to ensure independence, restoration and true upliftment of individuals through market-related, cost-effective training.
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