Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thoughts at the end of 2009

95 Postings and What do You Get?

Today is our last posting in 2009. It has been a little over seven months since we began this blog. May 12 we started this communication as a way to offer more help to you and to solicit your insights and experiences which we could then offer to your peers throughout the network of Learning Centers.

In some ways we feel the Idea Hub is working. When we solicited your advice in the rebranding process, you rewarded us with local perspectives that have truly defined our decisions. The business guru Malcolm Gladwell has described the power of harnessing groups like this for decision making. You proved his points in this respect.

Further, I have found that by communicating to both boards and Center Directors we have gotten to better understand how our Learning Centers work. One of the things that I've come to appreciate is how well many of our Center Directors understand the reality of our current business model and how they are willing to do anything for their Center.

My boss, Sovereign Grand Commander John William McNaughton, has a way of determining those who are fully invested in a project. He says that they are the folks with "skin in the game." Clearly most of our Center Directors have "skin in the game."True , they draw income from their involvement in the Learning Center, but I believe that their interest is far deeper. Everyday they see kids and their parents walk into our Centers. They saw these kids when they first arrived. They shake their hands was they "graduate" and leave. They viscerally know the power of our Centers. And they have risen up to fight to keep them.

I am struck that the most consistent readers of this blog are the Center Directors. The most consistent respondents to surveys are Center Directors. It's all about skin in the game.

Five Center Directors have sought our help in grant writing because they haven't seen their boards step up. Several Center Directors have called us, concerned for the future of their Center. They are desperate to do whatever they can to preserve their programs, even to level at times of cutting their own salaries.

This is not to say that there is an absence of board effort. The boards in Milwaukee and Madison and Pittsburgh and Columbus, to name a few, are behind the success of their their Learning Center. Last week I was fortunately in the company of Joe Fennick of New Castle to meet people who have or could support his Learning Center. Joe is shining example of a board member who's fearless because of his belief in the good of his Learning Center. We all need to be like Joe if this program is to thrive in all our locations.

As you might imagine, the activity in our office as of today is somewhat quiet. In my experience, many people spend the next two weeks catching their breathe, eating too much good food and taking stock of their past year so they can resolve to improve in the coming one.

I hope your commitment in 2010 is to share our communal resolve to do anything in your capacity to sustain your Learning Center. The future of each Center hinges upon the local passion for this program. You can be assured that if you have the passion, we're ready to help.

The next nine months will be pivotal for a number of Centers. With this in mind, perhaps 2010 is a time to assess your priorities and decide that now is the time and the Learning Center is the place for you to shine in your finest hours!

The staff of Scottish Rite Charities wish you and yours a wonderful Holiday Season filled with love and good cheer!


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