Slow Down to Listen*

by Jan Yuill

We can let the future of our organizations be influenced by:

  1. the data (trends, statistics, use of resources, etc.) (Resource Management),
  2. those who are served by the organization, as well as those who might be served in future (including protesters, competitors, and the next generation) (Customer Service), and
  3. those who serve – i.e. employees, board members, volunteers, etc. (Membership Potential)

The first category contains the cold, hard facts. Many organizations ‘watch’ the numbers, but don’t necessarily let them influence their decisions. Some only let the good news in. Often it is the bad news that holds the ‘edge’ they need.

The second and third categories involve input from people. The living, loving, emotional, frighteningly unpredictable, frustratingly predictable people, who are associated with the organization. People with enormous and unique expectations, perceptions, wants, and needs. They are the only source of inspiration for any organization. (Membership Potential)

We can be reactive to the data and people, or we can be proactive.

I believe that proactivity involves seeking, waiting, listening, reflecting, hoping, wondering, exploring, and generally being receptive to ‘things not yet seen.’

Unfortunately, most organizations do not have a budget for this. But it does not mean that they cannot ‘afford’ it.

There must be a willingness to stop the busy-ness at times. We must slowdown in order to let inspiration catch up to us.

*This posting was made in response to Claire Belilos’ recent query on the ODNet Listserv.