We recently began working with a not-for-profit to help them identify their key component and better structure their organization for future growth. Although it seemed clear to us education is the core business, when we started speaking with those involved in the business a competing idea came to light: community. Which one is the true key component? Why do some members consider community – not education – to be key component?
First and foremost, let’s remember that a key component is an asset the business owns or controls and that provides a competitive advantage in the market in which the business operates. Education can meet these criteria if the business owns or controls the educational content for that market and it provides a competitive advantage as compared with substitute educational content. Community, on the other hand, in and of itself is more difficult to consider a key component because no one can really own a community.
The second most important criteria is defendability. A key component once identified needs to be defended and protected from any diminishment in value. The law, through property laws, and insurance, through financial instruments, provide such protections. Educational content can be defended. Community cannot.
Based on this point of view, it should be clear education and not community is the key component of this organization. So why do some people think it is community? Quite simply because the education that is provided by this not-for-profit serves to foster a community.