Ways M1 and M2 Degrade One Another

Very old picture of St. George on a horse spearing a dragon

Mission 1 (M1) is the core reason your advocacy group or organization exists. It is the purpose of your passion. Mission 2 (M2) is all the stuff we do to keep our group or organization going.

M1 and M2 do not necessarily complement one another or necessarily oppose one another.  Their relationship is complex and changes over time, sometimes very quickly. There are a lot of reasons why their relationship is so volatile:

  • M2 decisions are common,essentially daily. M1 decisions are rarer, more consequential. So, over time M2 tends to overwhelm M1 even though at heart M1 is more important.
  • Managers are gradually socialized to privilege M2 issues over M1. When M1 and M2 oppose one another in a decision, there is a gradual inclination to favor M2 the longer a manager has worked for the group or organization. This is framed as “realism”, and often becomes the typical way managers judge all organization problems.
  • Boards, mostly because they have even more superficial relationships to decisions that pit M1 against M2 tend to develop the same attitude over time.
  • Staff are reinforced for a similar prioritization of M2 over M1 through sanction and punishment when they choose M1 over M2
  • Funders and regulators have all abstracted their concerns away from M1 because the M2 framework can be easily (if inappropriately) applied to any purpose. Thus, RFPs, reporting requirements, audits, and similar monitoring methods all deeply favor M2 over M1.

The cumulative effect of all these pressures is the gradual corruption of M1 over time, and a movement toward group or organizational survival as the primary fulcrum of decision making. Bureaucracies are large scale examples of the end point of this process.

Author: disabilitynorm

hubby2jill, advocate50+yrs, change strategist, trainer, geezer, Tom and Pepper the wundermutts