Who should judge if a meal is good? The cook? The nutritionist? The restaurant critic? Aristotle had a good answer long ago: "The guest is a better judge of the feast than the cook."
There are 360 degrees in a circle, and the 360-Degree Look places the organization at the center of the circle and looks at it from the viewpoint of its many constituencies. In particular, the 360-Degree Look helps compensate for the board's limited view of how well the organization is functioning. There are several reasons for this limited view. First, board members often have only a little time each month to spend on their volunteer board commitments. Second, board members are often unfamiliar with the program area of the organization, whether that is pesticide research, early childhood development, or nursing home standards. Hopefully, board members do know about the needs and desire of the organization's constituents, but that may not be the case. Finally, board members often receive most or all of their information from the organization's executive -- not entirely a bias-free source.
Time for a Fresh Perspective?
In a 360-Degree Look, the board and the staff management team seek feedback from those who stand around the outside of the circle as well as inside it: clients, the community, volunteers, donors, funders, and staff. While such a project might be seen as threatening or overly time-consuming by staff, it's an infrequent project, done perhaps every five years, or when a fresh perspective is wanted. Having it led by a board-staff task force can alleviate staff fears and create a precedent for such board-staff teams. Like any project, a 360-Degree Look can get bigger and bigger; keep it modest and do-able.
The following steps can be considered as examples of ways to obtain . . .