pyramid to dna

brainroads-toward-tomorrows mental patterns

A guide to choosing your non-profit (social sector) organization affiliations

Preliminary homework:

Non-competitive Life and Personal Community

The World is Full of Options (where do I belong? and what is my contribution?)

Key questions:

Which non-profit organizations are worthy of affiliation—not just worthy causes?

Which ones are actually managed and have substantial valuable results? (quality and quantity).

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions." see next major topic

Chapter 13, Management, Revised Edition: … Finally, successful nonprofits know how to manage volunteers. Managing volunteers requires a clear mission, careful placement, continuous learning and teaching, management by objectives and self-control, high demands but corresponding responsibility, and accountability for performance and results.

“Every business has its ‘broken washroom doors,’ its misdirections, its policies, procedures and methods that emphasize and reward wrong behavior, penalize or inhibit right behavior”

… snip, snip …

“Few people realize the competition for nonprofit money is much more severe than the competition for goods in the market place,” Drucker asserted. “That’s really severe competition. In many nonprofits, the lack of results only means that you should do more of it.”

Drucker said the problem of having people in positions where they do the least amount of good exists everywhere, but it is more rampant in hospitals, churches, and other nonprofits than in corporations.

To raise productivity in most any organization managers should regularly assess their key people, their strengths, and the results they achieve.

Then they should ask themselves: Do we have the right people in the right jobs, where they can make the greatest contributions?

Are the jobs the right ones, meaning do we have people performing tasks that even if achieved do not add value to the organization?

What changes in people, jobs, and job functions can we make that will yield greater results? — Inside Drucker's Brain

See "The Mission Comes First in Bob Buford's Halftime" and The Charitable Challenge (thoughts by Drucker Institute Executive Director Rick Wartzman)

Of these worthy organizations, which ones fit you?

What do you want to be remembered for?

Managing Oneself

See "Its Profits Us to Strengthen Nonprofits" in Managing in a Time of Great Change

Good intentions: the road to hell

The mistake most people make when they move into the second half is to rely on good intentions

According to Peter, good intentions (“I want to do something significant”) is only a starting point.

The goal is results and performance that fulfills a clearly stated mission—something that needs doing—something that creates value for a customer (something that is important to them as human beings—not the typical marketing BS).

Peter told me over and over, “All results are on the outside.

On the inside is only cost and effort.”

… Another phrase I heard over and over in virtually every conversation with Peter has shaped my thinking: From good intentions to results and performance.”

Peter contended that most nonprofit organizations, almost all big foundations, and a good deal of government spending are invested in “good intentions.”

Outspoken About Outcomes for Nonprofits

Leap of Reason: Managing to Outcomes in an Era of Scarcity

How to guarantee non-performance

What results should you expect? — a user’s guide to MBO

In his typically brusque style, he once told me, “Tell your rich friends money has no results

If money were what made the difference, Egypt would be Japan.”

Peter wasn’t speaking against money.

He was simply saying that money alone won’t get results.

It might even impede results.

Bob Buford
Beyond Halftime

Managing Service Institutions in the Society of Organizations

From Chapter 12 of Management, Revised Edition

Management Revised Edition    Management Cases Revised Edition

Amazon Links: Management Rev Ed and Management Cases, Revised Edition

Business enterprise is only one of the institutions of modern society, and business managers are by no means our only managers.

Service institutions are equally institutions and, therefore, equally in need of management.

Some of the most familiar of these institutions are government agencies, the armed services, schools, colleges, universities, research laboratories, hospitals and other health-care institutions, unions, professional practices such as the large law firm, and professional, industry, and trade associations.

They all have people who are paid for doing the management job, even though they may be called administrators, commanders, directors, or executives, rather than managers.

The Multi-Institutional Society

Public-service institutions are supported by the economic surplus produced by economic activity.

They are social overhead.

The growth of the public service institution in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries is the best testimonial to the success of business in discharging its economic task—producing economic surplus.

Yet, unlike the early nineteenth-century university, the service institutions are not a luxury or an ornament.

They are essentials of a modern society.

They have to perform if society and business are to function.

These service institutions are the main expense of a modern society.

Approximately half of the gross national product of the United States (and of most of the other developed countries) is spent on public-service institutions.

Every citizen in the developed, industrialized, urbanized societies depends for survival on the performance of the public-service institutions.

These institutions also embody the values of developed societies.

Education, health care, knowledge, and mobility—not just more food, clothing, and shelter—are the fruits of our society's increased economic capacities and productivity.

Yet the evidence for performance in the service institutions is not impressive, let alone overwhelming.

Colleges, hospitals, and universities have grown larger than an earlier generation would have dreamed possible.

Their budgets have grown even faster.

Yet everywhere they are in crisis.

A generation or two ago their performance was taken for granted.

Today they are attacked on all sides for lack of performance.

Services that the nineteenth century managed successfully with little apparent effort—the postal service, for instance, or the railroads—are today deep in the red and require enormous subsidies.

National and local government agencies are constantly being reorganized for efficiency.

Yet in every country citizens complain loudly of growing bureaucracy in government.

What they mean is that the government agency is being run more for the convenience of its employees than for contribution and performance.

This is mismanagement.

Are Service Institutions Managed?

The service institutions themselves have become "management conscious."

Increasingly they turn to business to learn management.

In all service institutions, manager development, management by objectives, and many other concepts and tools of business management are now common.

This is a healthy sign, but it does not mean that the service institutions understand the problems of managing themselves.

It only means that they begin to realize that at present they are not being managed.

But Are They Manageable?

There is another and very different response to the performance crisis of the service institutions.

A growing number of critics have come to the conclusion that service institutions are inherently unmanageable and incapable of performance.

Some go so far as to suggest that they should, therefore, be dissolved.

But there is not the slightest evidence that today's society is willing to do without the contributions the service institutions provide.

The people who most vocally attack the shortcomings of the hospitals want more and better health care.

Those who criticize public schools want better, not less, education.

The voters bitterest about government bureaucracy vote for more government programs.

We have no choice but to learn to manage the public-service institutions for performance.

And they can be managed for performance.




Managing Public-Service Institutions For Performance

Different classes of service institutions need different structures.

But all of them need first to impose on themselves discipline of the kind imposed by leaders of the institutions in the examples in the previous chapters.

This work involves
attention-directing and
mental patterns

They need to define "what our business is and what it should be."

See "The Theory of the Business" in chapter 8 of Management, Revised Edition and The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization (converts intentions into action)

They need to bring alternative definitions into the open and consider them carefully.

They should perhaps even work out some balance between the different and conflicting definitions of mission (as did the presidents of the emerging American universities—see later in this chapter).

They must derive clear objectives and goals from their definition of function and mission.

They then must set priorities that enable them to select targets, to set standards of accomplishment and performance—that is, to define the minimum acceptable results, to set deadlines, to go to work on results, and to make someone accountable for results.

They must define measurements of performance—customer-satisfaction measurements for the performance of Medicare services, or the number of households supplied with electric power (a quantity much easier to measure).

They must use these measurements to feed back on their efforts.

That is, they must build self-control by results into their system.

Finally, they need an organized review of objectives and results, to weed out those objectives that no longer serve a purpose or have proven unattainable.

They need to identify unsatisfactory performance and activities that are outdated or unproductive, or both.

And they need a mechanism for dropping such activities rather than wasting money and human energies where the results are poor.

The last requirement may be the most important one.

Without a market test, the service institution lacks the built-in discipline that forces a business eventually to abandon yesterday—or else go bankrupt.

Assessing and abandoning low-performance activities in service institutions, outside and inside business, would be the most painful but also the most beneficial improvement.

As the examples have shown, no success is "forever."

Yet it is even more difficult to abandon yesterday's success than it is to reappraise a failure.

A once-successful project gains an air of success that outlasts the project's real usefulness and disguises its failings.

In a service institution particularly, yesterday's success becomes "policy," "virtue," "conviction," if not holy writ.

The institution must impose on itself the discipline of thinking through its mission, its objectives, and its priorities, and of building in feedback control from results and performance on policies, priorities, and action.

Otherwise, it will gradually become less and less effective.

We are in such a welfare mess today in the United States largely because the welfare program of the 1930s was such a success.

We could not abandon it and, instead, misapplied it to the radically different problem of the inner-city poor.

To make service institutions perform, it should by now be clear, does not require great leaders.

It requires a system.

The essentials of this system are not too different from the essentials of performance in a business enterprise, but the application will be quite different.

The service institutions are not businesses; performance means something quite different in them.

The applications of the essentials differ greatly for different service institutions.

As our later examples will show, there are at least three different kinds of service institutions—institutions that are not paid for performance and results, but for efforts and programs.



bbx How to guarantee non-performance

bbx Management by Objectives — a user’s guide

What do customers value?

The question, What do customers value?—what satisfies their needs, wants, and aspirations—is so complicated that it can only be answered by customers themselves.

And the first rule is that there are no irrational customers.

Almost without exception, customers behave rationally in terms of their own realities and their own situation. (Their logic bubble — see below)

Leadership should not even try to guess at the answers but should always go to the customers in a systematic quest for those answers.

I practice this.

Each year I personally telephone a random sample of fifty or sixty students who graduated ten years earlier.

I ask, “Looking back, what did we contribute in this school?

What is still important to you?

What should we do better?

What should we stop doing?”

And believe me, the knowledge I have gained has had a profound influence.

What does the customer value? may be the most important question.

Yet it is the one least often asked.

Nonprofit leaders tend to answer it for themselves.

“It’s the quality of our programs.

It’s the way we improve the community.”

People are so convinced they are doing the right things and so committed to their cause that they come to see the institution as an end in itself.

But that’s a bureaucracy.

Instead of asking, “Does it deliver value to our customers?” they ask, “Does it fit our rules?”

And that not only inhibits performance but also destroys vision and dedication.

— Peter Drucker,
The Five Most Important Questions





Quality in a product or service is not what the supplier puts in.

It is what the customer gets out and is willing to pay for.

A product is not quality because it is hard to make and costs a lot of money, as manufacturers typically believe.

This is incompetence.

Customers pay only for what is of use to them and gives them value.

Nothing else constitutes quality.

Peter Drucker




The Logic Bubble

I (Edward de Bono) created the term ‘logic bubble’ in a previous book.

When someone does something you do not like or with which you do not agree, it is easy to label that person as stupid, ignorant or malevolent.

But that person may be acting ‘logically’ within his or her ‘logic bubble’.

bubble man

That bubble is made up of the perceptions, values, needs and experience of that person.

If you make a real effort to see inside that bubble and to see where that person is ‘coming from’, you usually see the logic of that person’s position.

In the school programme for teaching thinking (CoRT (Cognitive Research Trust) programme) there are tools which broaden perception so the thinker sees a wider picture and acts accordingly.

One of these tools is OPV, which encourages the thinker to ‘see the Other Person’s Point of View’.

We have numerous examples where a serious fight came to a sudden end when the combatants (who had learned the methods) decided to do an OPV on each other, a very similar process to understanding the ‘logic bubble’ of the other party.

Edward de Bono

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (P.S.)


Thoughts on Charitable Giving

Strategies for making gifts go further toward a functioning society

Here are several articles suggesting ways to best channel one's giving:

6 smart tips for charitable giving

  • Decide what your mission is
  • Check the program ratio. Tread carefully here
  • Use the Internet, wisely
  • Give by shopping, buying, matching
  • Watch out for fraud
  • Volunteer with friends

Pick a charity with a purpose

Finding a cause where your dollar will go the farthest should not be an exercise in blind faith or second-guessing. Apply the same rigor to your philanthropic efforts as you would to your financial investments.

Five questions to ask a charity organization before committing any money to it:

  1. How will my money be used?
  2. What impact do you anticipate having?
  3. How will you monitor and evaluate that impact?
  4. Why is what you're doing unique?
  5. What are your governance structures?

Just remember to treat any contribution you make as an investment: talk to the charitable organization's staff, set expectations and get personal updates

How hasty year-end donations hurt deserving causes

"indiscriminate givers will hand hard-earned cash to charities that burn up to 95% of revenue on administrative and fundraising expenses"

"such giveaways are perpetuating undeserving organizations that draw money from groups that make the most of every cent of generosity they receive"

"Organizations that telemarket generally are the ones you should avoid because they're most often cited for dubious practices,"

Except in the cases of outright fraud, philanthropy experts say, no U.S. politician or government agency has yet dared to tell people their heartfelt contributions are going to waste

Three tips to year-end givers as part of their due diligence:

  • Find a charity that does exactly what you want to see done
  • Look for long-time leaders
  • Be sure the charity is spending at least 75% of its proceeds on the cause

"The most charitable thing anyone can do is to educate themselves on where their money is going, to ensure they accomplish the most good for something that really matters to them."

Beyond the considerations above:

See Managing the NonProfit Organization for more information—especially the Preface and the chapter on "Building the donor constituency — interview with Dudley Hafner (American Heart Association)".

See "Citizenship Through the Social Sector" in Post Capitalist Society (remember: every couple of hundred years in Western History—it will help interpret the news)

See "The Second Half of Your Life"

Also find "nonprofits" in the contents of Peter Drucker's work

"The Era of the Social Sector" in The Drucker Lectures

The Role of the Social Sector

Most people think of Peter Drucker as the "father of modern management," which he was (though he was never very comfortable with that description).

And while it's true that most of the very successful corporations owe a lot of their success to him, Peter increasingly turned his attention to the social sector—nonprofit organizations whose role is to look after the social needs of a culture.

Peter felt strongly that while government has a critical role to play as policy maker, standard setter, and paymaster, it should not attempt to run social services because it has proven to be almost totally incompetent in that area.

He also believed it was not a primary role of business to provide for the social needs of citizens.

Instead, nonprofit agencies—of which more than fifty percent are churches and faith—based organizations—have the greatest potential for doing the greatest good.

But as Peter would often say, "Don't mistake potential for performance," and devoted a great deal of his time helping the social sector, including churches, becoming more effective by becoming better managers.

I know that some have criticized larger churches for becoming more "businesslike" by adopting modern management principles, but Peter was adamant that the function of management is to make the church more churchlike, not make it more businesslike.

He saw such huge potential within churches to care for the social needs of the nation, especially within the ranks of Baby Boomers who will be looking for more meaningful options to retirement.

Bob Buford


Peter Drucker: Conceptual Resources

The Über Mentor

A political / social ecologist
a different way of seeing and thinking about
the big picture
— lead to his top-of-the-food-chain reputation

drucker business week

about Management (a shock to the system)


“I am not a ‘theoretician’; through my consulting practice I am in daily touch with the concrete opportunities and problems of a fairly large number of institutions, foremost among them businesses but also hospitals, government agencies and public-service institutions such as museums and universities.

And I am working with such institutions on several continents: North America, including Canada and Mexico; Latin America; Europe; Japan and South East Asia.” — PFD




List of his books


Large combined outline of Drucker’s books — useful for topic searching.




High tech is living in the nineteenth century,
the pre-management world.
They believe that people pay for technology.
They have a romance with technology.
But people don't pay for technology:
they pay for what they get out of technology.” —
The Frontiers of Management


“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic”. — Peter Drucker

The shift from manual workers who do as they are being told — either by the task or by the boss — to knowledge workers who have to manage themselves ↓ profoundly challenges social structure

Managing Oneself is a REVOLUTION in human affairs.” … “It also requires an almost 180-degree change in the knowledge workers’ thoughts and actions from what most of us—even of the younger generation—still take for granted as the way to think and the way to act.” …

… “Managing Oneself is based on the very opposite realities: Workers are likely to outlive organizations (and therefore, employers can’t be depended on for designing your life), and the knowledge worker has mobility.” ← in a context




These pages are attention directing tools for navigating a world moving toward unimagined futures.

It’s up to you to figure out what to harvest and calendarize
working something out in time (1915, 1940, 1970 … 2040 … the outer limit of your concern)nobody is going to do it for you.

It may be a step forward to actively reject something (rather than just passively ignoring) and then figure out a coping plan for what you’ve rejected.

Your future is between your ears and our future is between our collective ears — it can’t be otherwise. A site exploration starting point



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