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Blog: Disruptive Corner

Org Identity: Why it’s Important to Your Business or Nonprofit's Foundation

Updated: Jun 19, 2023

By: Marsheda Patrice, Esq.

In a society where we are flooded with tasks and have little time to reflect, it is easy to confuse busyness with productivity. We often celebrate the win of doing without fully assessing if what we are doing is directly tied to who we intend to become. Some of us don't have any idea of who we are or desire to be, so we find ourselves wandering and unsure of what we are truly looking for, just knowing when we aren’t satisfied. Some of us know who we care to be, and still have no idea of how to get there. Regardless of your camp, I offer Oprah Winfrey’s words, “Your being leads to doing.” Meaning, we are “human beings” not “human doers” so the understanding of our existence should inform our actions.

But Marsheda this is a business blog, why are you coming for my soul? First, we value people over here so deep soul work is included, lol. You're welcome. Second, and most pertinent to this post is because self-identity and org identity play out the same way. Who your org is should dictate what it does and how it moves. However, as leaders, it is easy for us to get so caught up in doing the business that we fail to take the requisite time to reflect and make sure we understand the being, the essence, of our organization. That being guides productive action. Where production action is defined as those activities, large and small, that get us closer to accomplishing our vision.

As a business strategist and coach, many of the issues I’ve seen by the time I’ve been brought in (inconsistent revenue, difficulty marketing, staff turnover, drama, inability to secure larger funding, etc.) often stem from either a lack of a known org identity or operating with an outdated one that no longer fits what the org does or should be doing. Org identity, like personal identity, is foundational in any and every intentional endeavor.

Because we believe in sustainable change, I’m going to dive deeper into why org identity is so important.

1. Like Personal Identity, Org Identity Dictates How Your Business Moves and Builds Trust!

Every business and nonprofit has an org identity, the question is whether the identity is aligned with what leadership and staff truly desire for the organization. I can tell you from working with many visionaries, the gap between dreaming and operationalizing the vision is a struggle space for many leaders. (This gap is honestly the reason Ewulomi Works exist. We help social justice and impact orgs navigate the challenges of bringing their visions to life.)

From the new business owner to the seasoned executive, building and operating an org can feel a lot like throwing spaghetti onto a wall and seeing what sticks by trial and error. The science of business does require a bit of trial and error; however, having a stronger sense of who your organization is and how it informs what it does will drastically increase your success rate. In the same way that we can easily tell the difference between a person who is confident in themselves and their abilities from someone who is not, it’s the same with business. Why should a customer or client trust you or your org if it’s obvious that your org doesn’t know who it is?

2. A Clearly Defined Org Identity Helps You Focus and Deepen Your Lane!

As talented and gifted leaders we can often see how our products, solutions, and/or strategies could be applied to a wide-ranging audience. However, specificity wins the day. Sometimes we are hesitant to clarify our org identity because we do not want to cut off an opportunity. However, the sooner we adopt the principles that “we can’t make everyone happy” and “we can’t be all things to all people” the better. Instead, choose your tribe, and solve at least one of their problems well. Learn their other problems and based on what your org identity is, solve more of your tribe’s problems with your products and services. When we can better satisfy our clientele we can go deeper, while still remaining true to who we are and what we do.

3. Org Identity Permits You to Pivot When Necessary!

The market is forever changing and your clientele is forever evolving. Maybe when they first started with you, they were graduating from college. Now they may be homeowners and/or looking to become homeowners. Graduating college students' problems differ from homeowners' or aspiring homeowners' issues. Depending on the nature of your business or organization it's important to know if your business should and can grow with your consumer and to what extent. Or if your org locks into a specific timeframe of your customers' lives and you rotate out customers each season. The research questions on how to improve your offerings or completely transform them, rely on knowing your organization’s position in the marketplace. Asking the correct question as an organizational leader is key to success (more to come on this later). Generating the right questions rooted in a solidified org identity will help you determine if and when to pivot, and most importantly how.

I literally have tons more reasons, because I nerd out about business and innovation, which to me is structured dream manifesting. And who doesn't love to see their dreams become real? So, I’m going to conclude here and offer some next steps for those of you who want to dive deeper into solidifying your org identity.

  • Ask yourself what your current org identity is. Do you feel confident about it? Would your clients say the same thing or something different?

  • Whether you are just starting or a seasoned vet, Sign up for our virtual workshop Business 101: Org Identity - Aligning Purpose & Profit, Create a Business Strategy that Works, Wednesday, June 28, 3pm MT/ 6pm ET/ 5pm CT. Whether you are an aspiring entrepreneur or veteran executive, this workshop will be helpful because we all benefit from the basics. Our foundations must be solid in order to achieve and sustain healthy growth. In this workshop, we go over in detail what an org identity is and how to solidify it. Then we help you craft or amend yours and provide you with specific and direct feedback on to improve what you wrote. So, attendees leave with a solid and clear org identity.

  • Lastly, have you signed up to join our system-breaking, disruptive Eworks fam? If not, get it together and subscribe here. We still love you!

Until next time, (2 weeks from now), we will continue to disrupt norms that marginalize our people and create new practices that increase the quality of life for the human village.

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