Skipping a Generation
Recording artist Cee Lo Green scored a #1 hit and Grammy Award for his song, Forget You (I know, it had a “different” original version and title – but the truth is still the same, in fact more so). The song chronicles the singer’s hurt over a lost relationship and how he feels seeing her with another man. It tells how he feels about them both.
So how did that get in a business article?
Simple. I run into groups all the time that are delivering that same message in every possible way they can to their members and prospects.
Question: Are you dealing with an organisation that is more about taking care of themselves than its members? I worked with a volunteer organisation earlier this year going through a serious decline in membership. One of their top executives said that their problems started in the 1960s and 70s when they ignored an entire generation of young people. They weren’t interested in the politics and beliefs they saw in the Baby Boomers.
So they said, “Forget you!” to them. Not as much as in words, but in deeds and actions. They ignored them as potential members. Now this same group is struggling to get their message to young people of today. They are drastically declining in membership while turning a blind eye to the sweeping changes in society, charitable giving, youth involvement and expectations. They are still sold on getting the same message out they told 40 years ago.
In truth they are still declaring, “Forget you!” Sadly, he said, “When you skip a generation, you pay for it for decades of decline.” I had to agree with him. They might recover, but not until they treat those younger than them as equals in gifts and talents, while dropping the requirements that everyone walk and talk the same.
I worked with medical practice managers a while back who are listening to their patients. They are asking them, “What are we doing to make your visit to the doctor or clinic better?” “What can we do for you that no one else is doing for you?” They aren’t saying, “Forget you!”
How often do you say this to your members or prospective members?
- When your organisation’s leadership cares more about its own position than its growth, it is saying, “Forget you!” to everyone not involved.
- When you are run by self-perpetuating executive boards or offering a single slate of nominees for that same board, you are saying, “Forget you!” to your members.
- When you are more concerned with policies for yourself than perks for your members, you are saying, “Forget you!” to them.
- When you make it difficult for someone to easily get involved in programs, leadership and strategic planning, you are saying, “Forget you!” to any volunteers and new members.
- When you market to only people who are like you in age, gender, creed, race, creativity (or lack of it) you are saying, “Forget you!” to the millions who might join and help you grow your organisation.
- When your annual enrollment is in decline (while more and more young people are becoming involved in causes and meaningful participation today), they are hearing you say, “Forget you!” from your organizational hierarchy.
“Board” to Death
Your own board probably wouldn’t come out and say it, but they like their positions (Power) and their security (Power) and don’t want to share it with anyone who has new ideas or directions (Power). What do you think is at the root of this?
I’ll give you one more hint: five letters and it rhymes with “flower.”
POWER in the hands of unwavering leaders is fatal.
When the pain of giving up power becomes less than the pain of extinction, they will change. Oh, they will throw up reasons continually to you that mask the problem. They will suggest ideas that call for everything except granting control or authority. They will plead that the budget must be cut, the marketing should be refined and the top person (you) should be reined in.
In the end it will be about surrendering their power to avoid their own demise.
Get over it and get on with it. Start asking them how they are saying, “Forget you!” to everyone who doesn’t think like them. Play the song, Forget You and ask them to apply it to the organisation’s public
message and marketing. Play either version, they most likely won’t be listening to the message anyway.
In the meanwhile, don’t be surprised when the people you need the most quit caring, stop contributing and
say, “Forget you!”
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