My Darling Digs: Why Business Thinking is Not The Answer

Reno Tahoe Digs

“All nonprofit organizations must be governed by performance, not merely good intentions… In the social sector, as in business and government, performance is the ultimate test of an organization. Every nonprofit organization exists for the sake of performance in changing people and society… “ – Peter F. Drucker

I read Good To Great, by Jim Collins, almost five years ago. I haven’t read much business-themed books after that. It’ll take a lifetime for me to understand and live that book’s core findings.

Good to Great was a massive bestseller, selling four million copies and going far beyond the traditional audience of business books.  What caught my attention was the level of research Jim Collins and his team went through to get to their conclusions:

“Collins used a large team of researchers who studied 6,000 articles, generated more than 2,000 pages of interview transcripts and created 384 megabytes of computer data in a five-year project”.

Not too long after the publication of Good to Great, Jim published a ‘monograph to accompany Good to Great.’  He wrote it especially for the social sectors.

Of course, in reading Collins, you are bound to bump in to Peter Drucker’s teachings — one his business heroes, who strived to make business leaders see the community as the responsibility of the corporation.

That hit me. This country through my local community has given me so much and greatly shaped me the last 10 years.

Those were the days when I seriously started thinking about  Reno Tahoe Digs.

I had the idea when driving through my city — smack in the middle of the Great Recession — I saw rows and rows of commercial spaces empty. Many of those spaces used to house local businesses I knew and loved.

I thought that if some of them just had a little bit more help on the marketing side — attracting a few more handfuls of loyal customers in the process — maybe, just maybe, these local stores would have a better fighting chance to weather the economic storm.

I am at the tail end of my first full year on making my darling digs a priority (I started tinkering with it a few years before).  I am past the honeymoon stage, but can honestly say I am more motivated to work on it than ever before.

But there’s many things to work and improve. First, getting the right people to volunteer and more importantly, I have to do a better job making clear of what I need from them. And what the organization expects of them.

I learned I can’t beg for volunteers — it needs to be their decision to join and theirs alone.

There’s pages and pages of things I learned and need to do. But the bottom line is “getting better than last week”. Leaning from mistakes and correcting them.

Drucker’s reminder to the social sector for leaders to embody “the Spirit of Performance” by exhibiting high levels of integrity in their moral and ethical conduct; focusing on results; building on strengths.

Committed to doing the right thing and to getting the right things done.