What is organisational health and why does it matter?

By Neil Hart and Werner Momberg

Jim Collins wrote in a foreword to the book Engine of Impact, ‘most nonprofits limp along, operating far below their potential impact’. Even with wonderful, committed leadership and teams, the podium for healthy organisations is sparsely populated.

Organisational health becomes a key concern for all stakeholders who invest resources to affect positive change in broken spheres of society. The Diagnostic and Development Corporation describes organisational health as ‘the organisation’s ability to function effectively, to cope adequately, to change appropriately and to grow from within’. Healthy organisations will have impact and a large part of leadership therefore involves managing and improving organisational health. 

It’s a lonely role leading anything. Once the excitement dies down the responsibility kicks in. There are so many questions. Are your people inspired by the mission and committed through the hard times? Are they living together in a healthy culture and growing in their contribution? Is the organisation operating efficiently with good governance? Are funders connected and encouraged by stories of positive impact, that enhance your efforts and deepen these partnerships? Is the Board involved and helping to lighten your load? And adding to this…are they inspired by your leadership? 

We understand the pressure you feel.

Mergon partners with over 100 ministries and leaders across 30 countries. And because we journey with our partners over a three-year cycle, we get to see a few things along the way. There are both challenges and breakthroughs, obstacles and overcomings, in any extended season of partnership. We have the privilege to co-navigate the full range of these experiences alongside our partners and we realised that a journey to organisational health will create sustainable impact.

But how do we gauge the health of an organisation? There is a myriad of resources available on the topic with leading consultants providing online tools and support in this regard.

Many assessment tools have been developed as performance measurement tools in relation to a benchmark in the respective social sector. At Mergon, although we appreciate the value of these tools, we are more interested in the perception of leaders and management on the health of the organisation as a means to know how to build capacity towards greater effectiveness. That’s why we created the Organisation Self-Perception (OSP) Scan as a practical resource tool for all NPO leaders. Our hope is that it will offer an eagle eye’s view of what a healthy organisation looks like as well as enough granular detail to help bring lasting change where change is necessary.

There is nothing more fulfilling than leading an organisation or team that is healthy. It will make you sleep well at night, only kept awake by the God-given mandate and vision you carry. We think this is possible and well within your grasp. 

Keep an eye out for our next blog post in which we will dive into ‘The physics of organisational health’ and touch more on the OSP Scan. 

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