Courage to Let Go

Inclusion and organizational change – two of today’s most pressing issues facing nonprofits.  And they’re interrelated.  No longer can even long-term highly successful non-profits exist on the thinking and involvement of one or two cultural groups or generations.  Not if the organization wishes to thrive in today’s dynamic, multi-cultural environment.

But what kinds of institutional and cultural changes are required for an organization to become more inclusive? “What can management do to attract and retain younger adults and persons of color?”

Before putting great confidence and investment in new recruitment and retention strategies, management might well start by answering a basic question, “whose organization are we serving and whose future are we preparing for – ours or theirs?”

Successful organizational change leaders heed the advice of noted management consultant Margaret J. Wheatley, who said, “there will come a time (perhaps manmillennialsy times) when we must change form to preserve function.”

That’s the first order of business. We need to re-configure our manner of operating from what has worked for us, to what will work for and appeal to today’s more multi-cultural generations.  We Boomers have had our day. It’s all about multicultural talent designing the future in entirely new ways with entirely new energy.  For “legacy leaders,” it’s time for us to exercise the courage to embrace change and the selflessness to let go.

Changing an organization, especially an established one, takes patience and finesse. Sure, we can and should take pride in the past.  But aren’t the interests of our organizations better served when we celebrate the future and enable those who’ll shape it?

 Robert “Chip” Harrod

One thought on “Courage to Let Go

  1. A lot of our volunteer organizations are entirely run by Boomers and Silents and they also lack racial and ethnic diversity. Should these organizations just run their course and die or should the elders step aside and let a younger, more diverse group take over? Why would they want to take over? How do we get them engaged? One thought is that we should worry less about young people and focus on people such as new empty nesters who may need organizations. What organizational forms are Millennials and GenZers using? We know they will flock to actions such as food distribution, clean up efforts, and Occupy.


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