Last week, I started a post on the critical importance of infrastructure for organizations that want to grow. To pick up where we left off, I define infrastructure as…
The critical, behind the scenes elements and activities required for the sustained growth and vitality of the organization.
For those who read last week’s post, your homework assignment was to begin to identify the elements of essential infrastructure for your organization. You may want to compare your list with the examples that follow.
Communications – Some would argue the advances in technology have made communication much easier - I’m not sure. You could say, the proliferation of communications technology has made our world much more noisy. Competing messages add complexity and often confusion. How organizations communicate has always been important. I believe we’re in an era in which communications can become a strategic, competitive advantage.
Information Technology – This may be the best possible illustration of the importance of infrastructure that is transparent to the customer or end user. People don’t care what you have to do behind the curtain to make your products and services available to them. More and more, technology is the engine for our world. How’s your IT infrastructure?
Leadership Development – Everything rises and falls on leadership. How large your organization can ultimately become is directly linked to how many leaders you can develop. Failure to understand this one principle derails countless organization. Many stagnant organizations are over-managed and under led.
Structure and Systems – This is a big bucket. I realize that. However, how you organize and how you get work done matters. These are the elements of infrastructure that drive efficiency and productivity. What you put in place here will directly affect how people work together and how decisions are made.
Human Resources – This can encompass recruiting, selection, on-boarding, training, performance management, leadership talent review, succession planning, compensation, benefits and more. If people are as important as we say they are, we need to support them throughout their tenure with us.
If you’re a non-profit organization, you may also want to consider…
Development (code for fundraising) – This is an ever-present challenge for most non-profit organizations. The accomplishment of the vision is directly linked to your ability to raise financial resources. I’ve never seen this done well without intentional effort. Most non-profit organizations miss this. That may be why the average non-profit in America is grossly under-capitalized and always on the verge of extinction.
In summary, to produce more apples – sales, profits, satisfied customers or changed lives, strengthen the trunk of the tree. Infrastructure is not the end goal, but it is often the key to accelerated growth.[GLS_Shield]