Organizational fear and the avoidance of reality
The knowledge that could make your life complicated
Let’s say things are going reasonably well in your organization. You have good stories to tell, of how you’re achieving your mission. Your financial situation is OK. You feel pretty good about your staff and volunteers. Your board, your staff, and the people you serve all think well of your organization.
But then let’s say there’s something out there that is somewhat scary, that you’re afraid to learn more about. Maybe it’s no big deal, or maybe it could completely disrupt everything you’ve got going.
Maybe a competitor is moving into your space, that might do your work better than you do it, for less money.
Maybe your donor base is rapidly getting older, and younger donors are just not interested in your cause.
Maybe a new government program is going to make your work difficult, or irrelevant.
Maybe the population you are serving has changed to the point that your work is less and less needed, year by year.
I think of that scene in The Matrix where the Keanu Reeves character is presented with a choice. He can swallow the blue pill and happily stay in his present circle of understanding, and carry on. Or he can swallow the red pill, find out the stark truth about everything, and have his life completely turned upside-down. If he swallows the red pill he will learn things that are challenging, painful, and life-changing. But at least he’ll be in the land of truth and reality.
The land of truth and reality. It’s not always the most pleasant place to be, but it’s always the better place to be.
The moral of this story: face that scary reality. Learn the full truth about it. Then, with your team, map out the best and wisest response you can muster.
love, joy, peace … Michael
www.michaeljaffarian.com. I’m a freelance consultant to nonprofits, with an emphasis on research. I’m keen to learn about your organization, and you might be interested in learning more about what I do. Let’s have a conversation. Write to me, people! firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vol. 1 No. 53