Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Changing the future - and ours

One of the greater personal benefits of my new affiliation with the Community-Driven Institute is the chance I have to observe (and participate in) an effective organization engaging in meaningful visioning and aligning its work with that evolving vision.

Really, it's a fascinating case study, one I'm fortunate to have access to as both a community member and as a researcher. Co-founder Hildy Gottlieb's blog provides an excellent public record of a lot of that work as it unfolds. Her latest post (here) offers the next installment of that story.

Now, it's an extraordinary time in CDI's history, unusual even for an organization in the business of transformation. But it does prompt me to wonder, even more than I already do, about the amazing things that could happen if more community benefit organizations made visioning work a higher priority. What if boards regularly carved out time to reflect on its organization's vision (if it has one - not a given) and mission, and to evaluating its role in moving closer toward fulfilling them.

What if board members held their stewardship role above all and based every decision made on how it advanced the vision and mission? What if they focused on ensuring that future as their unique responsibility and highest priority? How would their work differ? How would the organization's present situation differ? How would their experience of governance differ?

How would their community outcome differ because they successfully envisioned - and created - a better future?

Researcher me will remain glued to the details of how this process unfolds for CDI. But I also will continue to take inspiration from this case and hold it up as an example of what is possible when an organization and its leaders embrace their responsibility for defining the future. Great things will result for CDI and those it serves. Great things can happen for our organizations and the community we serve.

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