Transition – the time when we move from one phase of life to another, a time we often experience excitement and anticipation, while also experiencing stress.
This has been on my mind – and in my face – over the last few months as I have been in the midst of my own transition. My husband and I chose to transition from living primarily in Oregon to living primarily in New Hampshire, an exciting time that offers joyful new personal and business possibilities in the east while allowing us to maintain our deep connections in Oregon.
And although this transition is a happy one, it brings with it its own set of challenges. I know any of you who have moved a household across the country, or even across town, can relate!
Non-profit organizations often go through transitions, sometimes more often than we would prefer. Some are positive, and “of our own making”, such as the transition from the end of a successful campaign to the next phase of fundraising. Some feel out of our control, such as the forced transition at the loss of a major source of funding, or a sudden change in leadership.
The first key to an organization’s successful transition, whether voluntary or not, is to develop a clear picture of what you want your organization to look like when you “get to the other side.” A compelling vision of the future you are trying to create can alleviate a lot of the anxiety that will naturally arise as things get bumpy along the way – and they will get bumpy! Make sure you have that solid, positive image right in front of you to help buoy your energy when the going gets rough.
The second key is to acknowledge that the impending changes WILL impact the PEOPLE in and around your organization. Create a plan for proactively involving them in the process. I have seen too many organizations move full speed into a transition without allowing time or space for the staff, volunteers, clients, board members and donors to grapple with what is coming. Build in some time for open dialogue about what is happening and why. Allow for safe space at staff meetings, board meetings, and places where you connect with clients to share about what has caused the transition and what the organization hopes to achieve when you get to the other side. (Thus the importance of the clear vision)
Third, be open to course corrections along the way, while simultaneously keeping an eye on the goal. None of us can know every speed-bump or obstacle we will face in trying to realize a new vision, so be open to making some modifications as you go. But don’t abandon the trip just because the road gets a little bumpy! If your vision is important enough, working around a few detours is worth it to get you to your final destination.
And if you need help creating that compelling vision, let us know! At Crooker Consulting, we help inspired leaders bring bold dreams to life.