6 - Transformation isn't optional

Sent to RAC board and executive on 13 August 2010

As stated at the outset, the process of renewing any organization’s culture starts by recognizing that the current state is not sustainable.

If you feel uncomfortable with the status quo, if you believe the organization is in need of a cultural overhaul, if you think fundamental, substantial change is required (even if you’re not sure about the specific details and don’t know quite how to proceed) this might be for you.

Consider the following process. It’s a way of creating a vision for the future. We do this by participating in a mini role playing exercise.

altImagine a magic Genie appears and you are granted one wish to make RAC a better organization. You tell the genie your one wish is “in five years, Radio Amateurs of Canada is THE highly recognized, highly respected organization representing the interests of all Radio Amateurs in Canada.”

So the conversation with the Genie might go something like this:

Genie:  Your wish will be granted if you can describe 10 things that will have happened for RAC to be THE highly recognized, highly respected organization representing the interests of all amateurs in Canada within five years.

And your response might go something like this:

Regarding Recognition:

- RAC will have successfully and convincingly communicated a compelling value proposition

- the entire Canadian amateur radio population and all other stakeholders will have bought into this new culture.

- the RAC executive and board will have developed a five year dynamic strategic plan

- RAC organizational culture will have shifted from reactive to being well-lead and managed

- membership will have hit unprecedented highs

altRegarding Respect:

- respect across the entire constituency will be evident

- governance model will have been widened to permit increased participation

- RAC will have commissioned an impartial evaluation of its performance, constitution, organizational structure, core values, & aims & objectives. These findings will have been published and RAC will have committed to a program of continuous improvement and operational excellence

- RAC will have established appropriate management oversight for matters involving succession, strategic planning and financial integrity

- communication between membership and the board will be open and friendly

The above process is obviously abbreviated and overly simplistic, however you can see the general approach. Remember this is just an example. The real process would likely generate multiple dreams (wishes) which would be distilled and “things that would need to happen” for each dream would be formulated in the multi-year plan.

While the work involved may seem daunting and overwhelming, taken one step at a time, it is doable - the process does work. The greatest difficulty lies with our own personal discomfort with change itself.

Note: a dream doesn't have to be constructed analytically. Rather, it’s a holistic story where we find ourselves playing and see ourselves winning. The only real requirement is it must be a happy and an aspirational story.

Transformation isn’t Optional

We all agree - RAC cannot be allowed to fail. Operations must continue. Radio Amateurs of Canada must grow and become stronger, organizationally and financially - and there is agreement RAC needs to change its culture.

Unless the organization changes substantially, among other things, RAC will have a difficult time:

- demonstrating a value proposition

- growing membership to achieve a critical mass

- attracting the talent required to operate

- becoming financially sustainable

Yes, culture is the hardest thing to change. That's because culture change is not a decision; culture change is an ongoing campaign.

Even in a hierarchy, top officials can declare a new policy or a new structure, but they can't change behavior without winning hearts and minds. And if culture change is difficult within a “for profit” company where people receive salaries, it’s even harder in volunteer organizations like Radio Amateurs of Canada.

Culture includes proven, acceptable methods by which members of an organization address problems. And culture defines the priority given to different types of problems. In and by itself, culture is a very powerful management tool.

So the question is - will you buy in - unconditionally - to the need to reset the organization, to change RAC’s culture, and to create RAC’s strategic future?

Do you have the courage to dream?