This week I get to indulge in one of the most energizing parts of my work. In preparing for next week’s immersion course in Pollyanna Principled Consulting, I get to speak one-on-one with the participants, to find out what difference they want the class to make for them. I get to hear their dreams and their frustrations, knowing how different they will feel when the week is done.
In these conversations, people consistently share this:
I have been consulting to community benefit organizations for a long time. And I have been frustrated for a long time. I am really good at what I do, yet I can only bring my clients so far and no further. They are not creating the kinds of change I know they can create. Your work is the first place I have seen that says, “It can be different. We can indeed create more significant community change.”
They are not alone in their frustration. These days there is a rising cacophony of voices that see the potential of this sector and lament what it has not yet accomplished.
Most recently, this article from the Philadelphia Social Innovations Journal has been making quite a splash, yet another voice touting the newest movement to solve the sector’s woes: the “Social Investment” Movement. This movement is the promising progeny of the Charity Watchdog Movement, which itself was the promising result of the three-headed marriage between the Measurement Movement, the Capacity Building Movement, and the Run-Like-A-Business Movement.
Just as it is in a family of talented children, none of these movements has disappeared as others have jumped on the frustration band-wagon. Also interestingly (but not surprisingly if you are familiar with our work on Problem-Solving), none of those movements has created any change in the circumstances they sought to address. (For an analysis of the failure of these movements to change those conditions, download this – it’s free.)
Which brings me to a realization that has swept over me as I’ve listened to the dreams of the individuals who will join us next week – people who will absolutely have their work (and their whole being) transformed into powerful agents for change:
The difference between the work we are doing, and the dictates of the pundits and the “movements,” is that our work is, in fact, work.
We are not laying blame and dictating “shoulds”. We are creating change in communities.
The consultants who have come through our courses are bringing warring factions together to aim at overall community change. They are moving community conversations from woes and troubles to potential and possibilities. They are changing legislation to create sweeping results. They are changing the focus of organizations from “our own survival” to “engaging the community in what is possible.”
It is one thing to be an armchair activist, pointing fingers and pontificating from the sidelines. And I guess there is a place for that.
Through this week’s conversations, though, I am realizing where our place is: actually doing the work that needs to be done. Our place is creating real change in communities, and sharing with others how they, too, can be the change they want to see.
Let the pundits and watchdogs keep talking and pointing fingers and vying for the spotlight. We’ve got real work to do.
Change your work and change the world. The Pollyanna Principles will show you how.