Sunday, June 13, 2010

Why I'm committed to 'mumbo jumbo'

Since returning from the Community-Driven Institute consultant immersion course in January, I've noticed two things: my vocabulary and vision have shifted significantly, and reactions to my new view of the world have been of the "what planet has she landed on now?" variety.

I'm frustrated by that, but I get what's driving those reactions. I understand how the narrow, incomplete definitions of governance have historically led us to believe that this fluffy vision and mission "stuff" is a big old waste of busy, action-oriented board members' precious time. I also know that it's still a giant leap from here to there: too many hard-working board members still lack access to even commonly-heralded "governance musts," like the "10 Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards," which I consider to be vastly incomplete and utterly uninspiring. Boards don't know what governance really involves.

But my emerging vision of a different future for community benefit organizations - and Wyoming - is resolute. We cannot fulfill our individual organization and community-level potential if we do not make what too many of us consider to be fluffy the focus of everything. So long as our visions extend only until the next budget report or the next granting cycle, we will never move beyond a day-to-day kind of existence. We don't change anything in that mode. While I must meet organizations and their boards wherever they are at the moment, I am completely clear on the path lying before us: it's in the "mumbo jumbo," the vision of a better future and the mission that defines organizations' specific contributions to that end.

My friend, Hildy Gottlieb, not only has a deeply innovative way of changing the frame from which we all operate, she has an uncanny knack for articulating what's at stake and why it matters in vivid, "charge-your-batteries" ways. She also has incredible timing. This morning's post, "Joyful, Spirit-Filled, Vision-Focused Touchy-Feely Mumbo Jumbo," is exactly the boost I need right now. I encourage you to read it, share it with your fellow board members, reflect on it, and explore ways to embrace the "mumbo jumbo" in your governance.

For those Wyoming organizations and the boards that govern them, who want to embrace that "touchy-feely" stuff and create real change, I am there for you. In my own practice, in fulfilling my own vision of the future, I will strive for nothing less.


Hildy Gottlieb said...

You inspire me beyond words, Debra. Your last line is an elixir. Thank you so much for the work you do!!

Debra Beck said...

As always, you inspire - and remind me what connection to that larger vision ultimately feels like. The model and the community offered by the Community-Driven Institute (soon to be Creating the Future!) provides incredible fuel for my own fire. Thank you for that.