Transformational Organizations: Adaptable, Transitioning and Evolving

Transformational organizations, Effectiveness and Efficiency represent the three overarching management domains of the Self-Renewing Management Model.

Charitable-philanthropic organizations seeking to achieve sustainable mission fulfillment and operations need a structure, culture and internal operating environment with the ability to adapt to changing environmental conditions, to transition to new states – to evolve.

Achieving and sustaining a highly Effective charitable or philanthropic organization, one that is also Efficient in its use of available resources, requires the organization to have the ability to evolve and adapt to ever-changing external environmental conditions, even as it encourages all its members to achieve their full potentials. Change is often disruptive – and can be threatening to those involved. Therefore, the internal environment needed to cope with a constantly changing external environment is one that offers self-fulfillment options and a workplace where it is safe to change (transformational). Self-renewing organizations establish and maintain a transformational organizational environment within and through leadership and human resource development and management (Connors, 1997, 2001). Transformational organizations adapt themselves to changing environmental conditions, constantly transitioning to new states, turning as necessary, in new directions. In short, transformational organizations manage change effectively by reinventing themselves – they stay New.

Profile of a Transformational Organization

A charitable-philanthropic organization that has achieved a transformational internal operating environment, is one in which its senior leaders:

• are focused on improved organizational effectiveness,
• serve as role models for values, initiative, and commitment; and,
• are involved in organizational performance improvement initiatives.

Further, its leaders have put into place systems that foster performance, individual development, and organizational learning, including the identification of stakeholders who serve as a major focus for vision and mission fulfillment.

A transformational organization is one in which education and training are emphasized as a means to improve workforce capabilities and performance, even as the human resource focus supports and encourages staff and volunteers to achieve their full potentials.

Transformational organizations emphasize the importance of staff and volunteers realizing their full potential. They have put into place work and services delivery processes that support client/customer and performance objectives. Organizational and work unit performance is measured and evaluated, to improve efficiency and effectiveness, and as a basis to measure, evaluate and reward staff and volunteers.

Characteristics of a Transformational Organization

Transformational organizations are characterized by the following characteristics as ranked by senior NPO executives during a major research study (Connors, 2013):

• Leadership is focused on improved organizational effectiveness.
• Senior leaders serve as role models for values, initiative, and commitment.
• Senior leaders are involved in organizational performance improvement initiatives.
• Leadership system fosters performance, individual development, and organizational learning.
• Education and training are emphasized to improve workforce capabilities and performance.
• Human resource focus supports and encourages staff and volunteers toward their full potentials.
• Work processes support client/customer and performance objectives.
• Staff and volunteer performance is measured, evaluated, and rewarded.
• Stakeholders are identified and serve as focus for vision and mission fulfillment.
• Organizational and work unit performance is measured and evaluated.

Establishing and Sustaining a Transformative Organization

Philanthropic executives rank Leadership, focused on operationalizing the organization’s core values as effectively as possible, as among the strongest contributors to establishing and sustaining a transformational internal environment.

The Charitable-Philanthropic Organization Self-Renewing Management Model (C-POSRM) Study (Connors,2013) found that three essential elements were needed to achieve a transformational organization, including:

1. Leadership and governance volunteers who use organizational core values as the basis for their decisions which are focused on achieving and sustaining organizational effectiveness and efficiency.
2. Governance leaders establishing and maintaining an ethical internal environment – based on core values – in which all members of the workforce (staff, volunteers, and governance leaders) are meaningfully engaged in helping the organization to fulfill its societal responsibilities.
3. Leadership focused on effective volunteer resource management, including job design linked to strategic planning and mission fulfillment (purpose).

The list below includes the rankings of management actions/activities most contributory to creating and sustaining a transformational internal environment. The list and its rankings was created by the responses of over 350 senior executives of voluntary organizations, and were among the findings of the Charitable-Philanthropic Organization Self-Renewing Management Model (C-POSRM) Study (Connors, 2013). Leadership is the strongest characteristic of philanthropic organizations with what their executives characterize as optimal internal environments.

1. Leadership
2. Organizational Core Values
3. Senior Leadership Efficacy
4. Volunteer Resource Management
5. Societal responsibilities
6. Job design, including volunteer positions where applicable
7. Board Development
8. Governance
9. Workforce Engagement
10. Ethics and Ethical Behavior
11. Workforce Climate/Environment
12. Workforce Capability/Capacity/ Development
13. Workforce Focus
14. Member/Constituent Development
15. Committee Development
16. Workforce Recognition/Rewards
17. Risk Management
18. Human Resource Development
19. Human Resource Management
20. Diversity Awareness
21. Legal

Leadership in such organizations is focused on improving organizational effectiveness, and in improving the organization’s overall performance. Further, its senior leaders serve as role models for values, initiative, and commitment. Human resource development is highly valued as a means to improve professional skills, capabilities, and performance, even as it encourages all members of the organization to achieve their full potentials.

In descending, but closely ranked order, respondents strongly valued other management actions and activities, including: volunteer resource management; societal responsibilities; job design; board development and governance; and workforce engagement. Based on rankings of management actions and activities and their value in establishing a transformational internal environment, heavy focus and importance was given to those actions involving and affecting the organization’s workforce, including: engagement and ethical behavior, climate and environment, capability and capacity development, recognition and rewards, diversity awareness, and an overall priority for the workforce and its best interests.

Note: Adapted in part and with permission from:

Connors, T. D. (1997). The self-renewing organization. In T. D. Connors (Ed.), The nonprofit handbook: Management (2nd ed.) (pp. 2-29). New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Connors, T. D. (2001). The self-renewing organization. In J. M. Greenfield (Ed.), The nonprofit handbook: Fund raising (3rd ed.) (pp. 1113-1140). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Connors, T. D. (2001). The self-renewing organization. In T. D. Connors (Ed.), The nonprofit handbook: Management (3rd edition) (pp. 3-45). New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Connors, T. D. (May 2013). Towards a theory of self-renewed excellence for charitable-philanthropic organizations, Public Service Leadership, Capella University. DAI-A 74/11(E), p. 276. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com//docview/1427359144

© Copyright 2015 Tracy D. Connors