A self-aware organization understands its unique strengths and capacity to effect change; it also knows its limitations and boundaries.
Self-aware organizations are committed to learning and continuous improvement. They think from a systemic perspective. They recognize that every individual contributor adds value and that teams are the fundamental learning unit. They build a shared vision for success. They prioritize ongoing evaluation. And they create space for internal reflection, retooling and renewal.
Sometimes this involves formal assessment mechanisms, like grantee perception surveys or 360 program evaluations. At other times it might be as informal as a brown bag lunch or non-structured staff retreat. What matters is that the organization is consistently seeking to improve itself.
Self-awareness plays an especially important role in strategic communications. Organizations who are self-aware understand the value, and limitations, of their brand assets – their reputation, relationships and resources. They know when and how these assets can best be applied, and to what effect. They also know how to avoid the hubris of “funder knows best” thinking, which can lead less self-aware organizations into dangerous territory.