Photo: leadership, willingness, readiness, capacity, and culture

Leadership, Willingness, Readiness, Capacity, and Culture: An Organizational Compass

Posted on May 27, 2022 by Michael Zimmerman, TPF Fellow 2021/22
When I arrived at The Patterson Foundation (TPF), I came across the acronym LWRCC, which stands for leadership, willingness, readiness, capacity, and culture. It struck me. In a meeting shortly thereafter, a colleague chimed in, “I’m not too sure about their LWRCC…hmmm.”

Another colleague shared, “Sounds like they’re lacking from capacity in their LWRCC.”

As I continued along in my fellowship, I came to understand LWRCC as a way of measuring an organization’s health. With all five facets of LWRCC in good working order, NPOs can connect, learn, share, evolve, and strengthen people, organizations, and communities.

With this invaluable insight guiding my approach, I felt my awareness heighten around culture and dynamics in the workspace.

Through a recent endeavor with a TPF partner organization, I was allowed to consult their leadership team on the creation of a 10-year strategic alignment plan. We often hear the term “strategic alignment” thrown around in the nonprofit sector, and its meaning varies depending on the NPO. For this NPO, it meant creating a plan for an operational system that would propel mission-driven fundraising, marketing, branding, and communications.

In an initial meeting with the NPO’s senior leadership team, a list of deliverables was shared. Leadership felt that this list of items, when completed, would set them on track. As I reviewed the list, I realized that the deliverables did not match the overarching goals—which prompted more questions.

Were their short-term goals setting the NPO on a path towards reaching their long-term goals?

During the follow-up meeting, our conservation prompted more questions, and thus, my deliverables began to evolve. Rather than identifying and cultivating three new funders for the NPO, we shifted to establishing a system that NPO professionals could adopt to drive prospects. This system established funder cultivation and solicitation methodologies, aligning with emerging giving opportunities and bridging funder curiosity to the NPOs needs.

The team became particularly intrigued by this refocus on mission-driven ideas that connected short-term goals to long-term goals. These ideas endeavored to weave together the many facets of their work to lend itself to fundraising, development, marketing, and branding. We began to explore different models for reflecting their expansive work and reach so that—both internally and externally, from professional leadership to donors and donor prospects—their name, immense work, and impact would be recognized.

From here, we developed pillars under which fundraising initiatives could live and breathe. New fundraising needs could weave into their NPO’s identity through these pillars.

One of TPF’s mottos is not to arrive with the answer but rather actively listen and then ask questions. Through my experiences consulting, I witnessed first-hand the power of curiosity and how to ask questions, which catalyzed new ideas from staff and leadership—elevating their investment in the plan and strategy.

Through this experience, they discovered the need to put extra attention towards readiness and capacity. Due to multiple other priorities, this project was put on hold.

When LWRCC is lacking, it can be challenging to pursue collaborative work with excellence. And while there is misalignment now, there is always an opportunity to revisit as LWRCC ebbs and flows.

This was a learning experience. While I’m sad the work had to pause, I took away so much knowledge. I enjoyed the evolution of the ideas, and I am confident that this NPO will thrive as they navigate their next steps.

LWRCC transcends boundaries and can be applied to many aspects of life—not just work. As I ponder where I may launch, LWRCC will remain a north star in my process of aligning my work with my aspirations.

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