cleaning products

Spring clean your organisation

By Sue Wixley 7 April 2014

I don’t know about you but when Spring rounds the corner I get a bounce in my step and bring out the proverbial Marigolds. Proverbial because I’m not exactly a goddess of domesticity and because, for me, spring cleaning is as much about embracing new ideas and decluttering my inbox as it is about literally clearing out my wardrobe.

This got me thinking about whether we could embrace a spring cleaning mentality in our individual charities. What is our equivalent of getting rid of that old jumper we know we’ll never wear again but hold onto anyway?

I suspect many organisations cling to an old project or product  because they’ve always done it and haven’t recently checked if it still serves a purpose. At NPC, for example, we produced a printed newsletter for longer than we should have because we liked the idea of having hard copies and had a well-oiled production cycle in place.

When we looked at things more clearly it was obvious that online newsletters would be much cheaper and easier to produce than the old paper version, not to mention more useful for our supporters because they received them more frequently and could choose where and how to read them. In theory, this has also freed up time for other activities, such as engaging with audiences on social media channels. (In practice, I’m sure we’ve accumulated new versions of that old jumper… and need to take a step back to free up some more “shelf space” again.)

What is the charity equivalent of throwing open the windows to let fresh air in, I wonder? Perhaps it is about getting new thinking flowing in your organisation. For some, this might be achieved by developing a theory of change for your work. Another way to shake things up is through futures thinking, something we recently had a lot of fun doing for the Commission on the Voluntary Sector & Ageing. We discovered that reflecting on external trends and future challenges and opportunities can stimulate radical thinking about how to adapt to changes, such as an ageing society, whilst putting your current activities into perspective too.

I imagine many organisations could also do with some sprucing up at board level. As a trustee myself I know how easy it is to get into a group thinking rut. As we hear at NPC’s workshops with trustees, a  governance review can be very helpful indeed, as can imposing set terms of office for board members.

Spring cleaning is traditionally an opportunity to make our homes clean, happy and efficient spaces—but why not extend this attitude to your professional life too. What would your organisation get rid of it was embarking on a spring clean?