Nonprofit Integration: 4 Signs You’ve Overdone It

nonprofit integration
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For over a decade, nonprofit integration has been the holy grail of organization success

Integration means many things: Coordinating multiple channels, cooperating as teams, disciplines, and coherent communications around shared ideas. But ultimately, it means a unified member experience. Nonprofit organization leaders have tried long and hard to deliver on nonprofit integration in their organizations. They have revised processes, workflow, and organizational charts. Created positions dedicated to facilitating integration. Invested time, energy, and money into the quest. Too often results in thoroughly produced and documented yet ineffective nonprofit integration processes. Integration is one of the chief concerns leaders bring to nonprofit organization performance consultants. They are struggling to achieve intelligent, efficient, and effective integration. Many are overwhelmed and fear they are doing too little. Unfortunately, it’s just as likely that they are doing too much. Yes, there is such a thing as over-integration. Here is what it looks like:

Over-engineered process

A common pitfall is trying to employ a unified, well-structured, thoroughly documented process that looks great on paper but never works in practice. It is not how the work gets done that needs to be super-structured. It is how people work together. A framework defining how independent processes come together can be simple yet profound.

One team in name only

Some leaders create a new nonprofit organization structure by collapsing many different groups with a new name but the same old ways. Consolidation is not integration. Teams that share space on the organizational chart do not always work well together. Groups that share principles and priorities do.

Technology as panacea

Implementing a software solution that forces everyone to share one system is not a fix for poor collaboration. Automation may help drive structure and standardization. You most need agility and adaptability to integrate well.

Nonprofit integration for its own sake

Integration is not an end in itself—too much focus on how the team works can be a fatal distraction from how teamwork happens. Internal alignment is essential. Yet fixating on the logistics of how a team functions should not take precedence over enhancing the member experience. Effective integration will remain the goal for non-profits. Nonprofit organizations that are most successful at integration have a philosophy and checklist. They don’t focus on designing time-consuming, exhaustive processes with multiple steps. Influential leaders and innovators work against a framework rather than a rigid process. For example, Apple has a laser focus on humanity-driven and intuitive design. GE strives to make life easier. These mantras color everything they do, from the way they work to the output they produce. And it works. The key is to integrate what matters and only what matters — the defining ideas and the member’s experience.

For more insights and ideas on nonprofit organization integration, see “Three Sure-Fire Ways to Tell If Your Organizational Alignment Is Backwards” and “What Does Integration Mean Anyway?

Nonprofit Integration: 4 Signs You’ve Overdone It

Nonprofit Integration

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