Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Cool Tool

It’s free, it’s been out for about ten years, and yet I think it is still a tremendously underutilized resource.  It is the McKinsey/VPP Organization Capacity Assessment Tool.  To download your free copy, go to:  http://www.vppartners.org/learning/mckinsey-vpp-ocat

The OCAT was developed by consulting experts McKinsey & Company for Venture Philanthropy Partners as a diagnostic to help nonprofits review their operations and identify areas for improvement.  You can use it for:

*SWOT Analysis.  I find that SWOT analysis is often not very rigorous.  Ask your staff, board, and other stakeholders to complete the tool as part of identifying your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, & Threats.  It will give you a much more reliable way to assess your capabilities.

*General Management.  I tell people that if I was still a CEO I would keep a copy of the OCAT in my desk drawer and pull it out quarterly to monitor progress on various items.  It gives you an objective tool to monitor your progress.

*Teaching Organization Effectiveness.  Part of our job as senior leaders is to help people understand what it takes to be excellent.  I suggest using the OCAT in orientation of new employees as a way to say:  “This is a picture of excellence – and we are pursuing high scores in every area the tool assesses so we can make even more of an impact.  You have joined a team committed to excellence.”

I have used the OCAT in numerous courses I have taught for nonprofit executives and they always comment about how helpful it is.  I have also used it in many consulting engagements – both for strategic planning and for general management improvement.  The best thing about the tool is that it often uncovers weaknesses that are not obvious to senior leaders in an organization. 

One outstanding aspect of the OCAT is that it is thorough.  I was talking with a group of consultants a couple of years ago who told me that their clients complained that the OCAT was too long and time consuming.  My response was: “Organizations are complex and a thorough tool is needed to assess them.  Also, my clients aren’t wimps and don’t mind doing the hard work needed to achieve excellence!”  Okay, maybe I went a bit too far there.

Check out the OCAT, see what it tells you about your organization and the improvements you can make to enhance your Mission Impact.

For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site at www.SheehanNonprofitConsulting.com   You will find free resources you can download, including a Breakthrough Strategy Workbook that you can download at no cost.  You can also check out my book, Mission Impact:  Breakthrough Strategies for Nonprofits, and buy it if you are interested.  And you can follow Sheehan Nonprofit Consulting on Facebook.

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