The 5 Habits of Highly Effective Missional Organizations

By Eliakim Thorpe


If you are reading this article, you are probably asking yourself, "What is a missional organization?"

The missional organization is a company or enterprise that isn't simply focused on making profit or generating revenue, but is firmly focused on giving back to its community. This type of organization seeks to leave a significant imprint on society by serving humanity. Its chief goal is to become great and significant through the vehicle of service by using its financial, political, intellectual, and human capital to achieve organizational greatness. This organization gives its time, talent, and treasures because it is keenly aware of an important goal or purpose that is accompanied by a strong conviction or calling. This is an organization that has evolved from simply being a profit driven organization or transformational organization and become a “missional” organization. Missional organizations are people-focused, community-centric, and socially conscious. It is an organization that surrenders to a higher call, knowing that there is something greater it must accomplish with community. It is an organization’s awareness of the part that it plays in helping humanity evolve by going out rather than just reaching out.

Habits of highly effective missional organizations are fueled by the heart and committed to change even in the midst of adversity and difficult social unrest. To be a missional organization, there are 5 habits that every enterprise must incorporate into its culture if it is to remain successful:

Ambitious: Missional organizations tackle major social issues, from increasing the college enrollment rate of low-income students, job creation, education initiatives, economic development, housing, to fighting poverty in communities. These missional organizations operate in all kinds of communities and aligning themselves with: innovative nonprofits, social purpose ventures such as for-profit community development banks, and hybrid organizations that mix elements of nonprofit and for-profit organizations.

Mission Driven: Generating social value—not wealth—is the central criterion of a successful missional organization. While wealth creation may be part of the process, it is not an end in itself. Promoting systemic social change is the real objective.

Strategic: Like social entrepreneurs, missional organizations see and act upon what others miss: opportunities to improve systems, create solutions and invent new approaches that create social value. And like the best business entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs are intensely focused and hard-driving-even relentless-in their pursuit of a social vision.

Resourceful: Because missional organizations operate more on a social context rather than in a common business world, they may have limited access to capital and traditional market support systems. Nevertheless, missional organizations are and must be exceptionally skilled at mobilizing human, financial, governmental, and political resources.

Results Oriented: Ultimately, missional organizations are driven to produce measurable returns. These results transform existing realities, open up new pathways for the marginalized and disadvantaged, and unlock society’s potential to affect social change.

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