Don’t just talk about it, try it!
After you begin to put more structure and strategy into your organization you should test it immediately. The earlier the better before real time and money have been spent. Test it repeatedly, making small changes to deal with small issues and assessing the worth of dealing with larger ones. Sometimes you have to scrap an idea or two.Meet and discuss larger problems. Then explore your strategy and tactics for dealing with them.
When I was first working with the MoBo Bicycle Cooperative, in Cincinnati, OH, we found ourselves swamped with neighborhood children. They were drawn to us like an introverted designer to a corner. It may have been all the bicycles in the yard, the inviting greenspace, the enormous black walnut shade tree, or that their bicycles were broken. It was probably the party-that-was-getting-it-done that we called MoBo. The problem was that the kids were distracting us from our paying membership. They had a gazillion questions and almost as many problems with their bicycles. We felt to achieve our vision and live up to our mission we had to help both of them.
We knew we had to adapt. We needed to devise something that took the stress and workload off the staff, while supporting the neighborhood and the membership. A team of us got together and designed our first children’s program that was and is an evening a week solely for them. No adult projects. And we threw it together almost immediately. There were snags and we made corrections. We adapted to the small problems. One key to this was MoBo giving the team enough trust to let them make big decisions and represent the organization’s best interests. This worked because there was constant communication practiced between the Children’s Program team and all the stakeholders. We PRACTICED communication. When there were bigger problems we had to apply adaptive leadership. And each season found the program evolving into an easier to run system and richer relationship with the community.
If you have are looking to implement new strategies and structures in your organization remember to start playing with it as early as possible. Rough it out and adapt as you need. Get communication channels open with everyone involved. And be ok with going back to the drawing board on occasion.
Now go out and do it. It’ll make more sense when you do. Contact Robert Grossman if your team needs help facilitating these practices.