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In a world where everything is changing rapidly, the old rules no longer apply.  The structures, strategies and processes that once created successful organizations are not sustainable today. You’ve heard the refrain – funding is disappearing, we don’t have enough money, there aren’t enough volunteers. We know things aren’t working. And yet, we remain attached to the status quo and traditional ways of doing things. Change is difficult and uncomfortable – and we resist it.

Recently, Chip Wilson (founder of Lululemon) challenged 600 people at a Public Salon to re-examine their personal status quo with this statement:

“What got you to where you are isn’t going to get you to where you’re going.”

This simple sentence has been running through my mind ever since. I have it on a post in note at my desk, shared it in a workshop last week, and wrote it on the white board in our lunchroom. The words evoke learning, transformation, accomplishment and opportunity. It strikes me as a succinct, compelling summary of our “vantage point” on the not-for-profit sector, and volunteer management in particular.  Change is not optional.  It’s an imperative, if organizations are to thrive in the future.

What if we fully embraced that truth?  Could we then begin to completely reimagine our community organizations? Might we begin to let go of old structures and engage people differently? Would we invite the abundance of brilliant and dedicated people into our organizations – to contribute their time and talent in new ways?

What if we did? I can only begin to imagine the transformative models, imaginative strategies, and ingenious processes we’d create... and where we’d ultimately go – together.

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Sarah's picture
Sarah (not verified) on

While I do agree with this quote, I also think it's important to take some of what you did before with you. I don't think we can throw to the wind everything we have done before, like structures and process. It is some of these structures and foundations that allow us to remain steady while we search and dream for new and more effective ways of being a non-profit. What I have come across is sometimes everyone else isn't ready for the change and you lose a big following. Timing is everything.

Lynda's picture
Lynda on

Really appreciate your comment, Sarah. You're right - change takes time, and it's important to bring people along with you. Luckily, we don't have to choose between steadiness and developing new, more effective ways of doing things.  We can do both!  :)

Change - intelligent change - is key to changing times.  Always has been and always will be. 

We humans often resist change and, in many case, rightly so.  Some changes really shouldn't even be entertained!However, even bad change leads to something better - at least there's been some movement.

And, yes, absolutely, organizations must learn to collaborate with outside talent in different ways.  We could do so much more and involve so many more people in our efforts.  With more, we can do more.  The word you used, Lynda, was "reimagine" - there needs to be a whole lot more of it!  There are so many possibilities to be discovered if only we'd let ourselves!


Jennifer's picture
Jennifer on

Hi Lorraine,

Thanks for your comment. I'm intruiged and impressed by organizations that adopt a culture of innovation, where change is natural. 

I think there may be hesitation in organizations about making the "wrong" decision. Visions of 'wasted resources' often get the best of us in the not-for-profit sector, then we start to rest on notions like, 'if it's worked for us this long, keep doing it.' Perhaps if we "reimagine" decisions that don't quite work out the way we envisioned and think of them instead as opportunities for growth and learning, more organizations would embrace bold change!


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