This Time, We’ll Do It Differently!
Questions for Your Organization– Part 2
“No One Told Me!”
Community organizations are frequently working in a reactive and defensive posture, holding back bad things from happening. The challenge is allowing enough time and space to learn to do things differently. Frequent exclamations of “I didn’t know that!” are an indication that communication is not occurring in an effective manner. The cause can be communication itself or other forces that do not allow the right message to get to the right people by the right time. These barriers to communication may be lack of time, differing cultures or other divisions which you will need to understand before you can heal. Take time to ask:
- Do you have an action plan and do you update your plan annually?
- Is the plan broken down into steps that people can take and accomplish in small bits?
- Do you have a list of goals you can refer to?
- Are you periodically returning to the goals and seeing if they are useful?
You want to avoid having members of your group take off in a certain direction, only to realize that an important step was skipped, forcing them to stop their progress and go back and take care of it. Dealing with these questions and finding your answers will help you engage in honest conversations that advance your mission and vision.
Is The Pandemic Making It Worse?
Transformational change can happen when we take the time to build a force for healing and change that is multi-issue, broad-based and diverse. This force begins from a place of deep knowledge and positive vision. As people try out new ways to work together, a vast and yet powerfully aligned collective vision of the future can be co-created.
Creating an atmosphere of openness allows respectful dialogue about controversial issues and allows us to support each other as human beings. It is difficult work to heal divisions across the power divides of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, language, issues and perspectives, but it is possible. Healing these divisions allows diverse groups of people to work together towards the vision you have for your own communities.
- Are relationships within your organization based on mutual respect, understanding and trust?
- Are people frustrated and choosing to work in isolation?
- How much time do you take to talk with each other informally now?
- Do you encourage shared leadership and give credit to others?
Healing from divisions allows diverse groups of people to work together towards the vision they have for their own communities. Road maps emerge, pointing people toward more effective ways of working in community and creating alliances that allow for deep and lasting change.
Consider Alliances Before It’s Too Late
Organizations that attempt to go it alone often find themselves alone in a time of need. Since small to mid-sized organizations, especially new ones, find it difficult to survive as islands, you may want to consider becoming part of a network — for practical as well as political reasons. Rather than competing with each other, we can harness our collective voice in a positive way, share resources and find efficiencies.
- Do others in your community invite your organization to help plan for the future or solve community challenges?
- Do you find yourself going it alone in times of need?
- Do individuals in your organization have the skills they need to get the job done?
Indeed, this may be the moment you’ve been waiting for! Networks can be built over common issues, experiences, geographical territory, communities served—they can take many shapes and forms. Networks and alliances allow groups to share information and tasks, like bookkeeping and fund-raising resources. These common elements can help them survive the economic downturn rather than fall apart.
I hope you have found this two-part series on conducting your own organizational assessment helpful. Hold on to our vision: a world in which every community is strong, vibrant, heart-centered and working joyfully together across our unique identities to sustain an interdependent system of caring for each other and the earth.