09 January 2012

Wheeling along

Here's a story:

When I was in college I was in a volunteer group that was run by my friends.

Lacking much in the way of practical experience we 'created' several different ways of managing our all-volunteer group, We were trying to meet self-imposed deadlines for a creative project. We spent _literally_ years reinventing basic governance structures-- discarding one and creating something else when we didn't seem to be meeting our goals.

One of our older friends took over running the organization and he put in place some very basic rules and procedures. He had professional experience in the field we were doing volunteer work in. His suggestions stopped us from flailing around and gave us the time and energy for the creative part of our project.

Experience saves time and allows energy to be put into the 'fun' part of an organization.

It was a real light-bulb moment for me to see what basic tools like agendas, standing committees, and planning meetings could do to transform an organization in a positive way.

I'm not saying those tools were a magic bullet-- it is more that a little expertise (from a source we trusted) allowed us to find and focus on the mission of the organization and cut down the amount of time we were spending to figure out _how_ we would do something.

I'm don't see this as a top-down solution, just that re-inventing the wheel is a lot slower than getting the plans and adapting the existing wheel design to your needs.

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