One of the more disturbing features of many organisations these days is their apparent unwillingness to engage in any truly meaningful review of their purpose, ambition or work.
Seemingly obsessed with and overloaded by demands from growing numbers of funders to monitor output targets, many organisations have been seduced into thinking that if they deliver 'on target' all must be well. Not so.
My experience with voluntary organisations leads me to suspect there is an inverse relationship between the volume of contract monitoring that they have to undertake and the extent to which they see the review of the activities as a key part of organisational life.
I often encounter organisations that do not review workers or their work, their CEOs' performance, their governance or mission. Are these organisations ignorant? Do they not understand the value of 'critical reflection' in developing their organisations? Are they overburdened? Do the considerable demands in monitoring consume all their time? Have they been lulled into a belief that if they are able to please their funders, that's all that matters?
Whatever the cause, the lack of a commitment to robust and regular review leaves organisations vulnerable to unseen threats in a changing environment and the inability to develop the staff needed for a healthy future.
How then to get organisations to wise up to the need for a proper culture of review? Answers on a postcard, please. Meanwhile, how about ensuring all workers have regular supportive supervision, inviting staff to comment through annual appraisals countersigned by the CEO, reviewing this year before planning the next, getting the board to review its performance and reviewing mission and objectives now and again?
Andrea Kelmanson is a freelance consultant specialising in the development of third sector organisations