Why you Need to Institutionalize Your Work

Last week I wrote about Laying the Foundation where I delved into the specifics of ensuring that as a founder or leader, you set in place a framework upon which others join in to support you realize your aspirations. In subsequent discussions and further reading, I\’ve gotten more convinced on the need to institutionalize our work so that it has systems in place. Like an institution, our work, project or initiative should have guiding frameworks in the form of policies, principles, mission and purpose. The vision which is grounded on core values, mission and purpose for being is often the first step in institutionalization. Imagine a founder recruiting for talent they don\’t know why they need to do a job they are not so sure about and asking them to help them achieve an unclear goal. How feasible is that? You guess is as good as mine, not practical.

In reading Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0 by Jim Collins & Bill Lazier on Turning Your Business into an Enduring Great Company, I am rooted back to the principle of institutionalization when Jim Collins argues for clarity of purpose and aspirations of the organization. An organization needs to have a map of action which is guided by the founder. The vision needs to be so clear to the leader that it\’s infectious to the other members of the organization. Unless it can be seen, it doesn\’t exist and that\’s why it is preferable that the vision and mission is written. As you can visualize, then you can internalize and live the purpose.

Through my mentorship work with Ryculture Health and Social Innovation YouTH Voices Network, I facilitated a session on how the youth can monetize their skills and one of the key attributes I argued for was the institutionalization of their skills, ideas or projects. In so doing, you have the bandwidth to work with others while at the same time can detach from the idea to focus on it objectively. When you are the solution and problem, most decisions become subjective hence clouding your judgment. Additionally, by institutionalizing your idea or solution you are able to manage the social dynamics & perceptions that may work against you in the pursuit of your aspirations. Imagine reaching out to recruit a senior expert in the industry to run your solution as an individual and calling on the same person to support an entity. The later is more feasible and easy based on perception which is critical in the business world.

How do you then institutionalize your ideas?

  1. Develop a roadmap for what you intend to do and write down the vision including core values, purpose and mission of the entity.
  2. Decide on a name of the project or solution you intend to launch. It doesn\’t have to be registered legally as an entity but if possible that\’ll be great. Alternatively, you can identify a name and get an anchor organization (a solution we offer under the YouTH Voices Network and Social Innovation Hub as Ryculture Health and Social Innovation). The aim is to have a vehicle from where and through which you can bring your idea to life. You detach which helps you be objective while managing the heartache of failure in case you do without taking it personally.
  3. Develop a project map with the key inputs, activities, outputs, expected outcomes and the envisioned impact of your work.
  4. Finally, get to the implementation. As I argued for in my last article, without execution you will have nothing to show for that brilliant idea you so cherish.

When I was thinking through these concepts, I got to reflect on most entrepreneurial ventures I\’ve seen in the country most of which never live to their 10th or even 5th birthday. One constant was that they were started without any philosophy other than a need to make money. Without a philosophy, there\’s no higher purpose for what you do and therefore the greater the chances of failing at what you do as I argued for earlier in the Philosophy of Money. Most businesses start working on documenting their principles and a company profile later in life when they achieve success trying to retrace their story to success, few get this chance. With a clear trajectory and path to success, execution is guided and success is more likely than working in reverse. You shouldn\’t wait to be successful to write your story. Write your philosophy of success and work to make it a reality. You\’ll surprise yourself how much potential you have hidden in yourself lacking direction.

I hope as you move forward ideating and envisioning a better future for your pursuits, you will dedicate time to institutionalize your ventures & initiatives. Institutionalization sets a habit supported with specific activities which give birth to success.

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