The Zig Zag Syndrome
by Harrison Coerver,
Lawrence-Leiter & Company
One president may determine that the emphasis should
be on education; the next may feel their best contribution while in
office would be for the organization to undertake a stronger
legislative position, another volunteer leader's agenda might be to
improve and expand the publications of the association.
This annual "agenda switching" causes the association
to change directions without doing so in the context of an overall plan
or strategy. The efforts may very well be necessary, urgent, or
important, but they are often "flashes in the pan" that fade into
obscurity once their champion has left office.
Some of the negative effects of this lurching and "zig zaging" from one course to another include:
1. Uneconomical use of resources. Not just funding,
but volunteer and staff time that is devoted to these efforts without
consistency or efficiency.
2. Depletes volunteer and staff enthusiasm and
commitment. When these individuals see the organizations changing
course constantly, they feel their time and efforts are wasted in a
project that will not have continuity or lasting impact.
3. Makes the association vulnerable to competition.
As your organization shifts from one purpose to another, the
competition can more efficiently direct their energies to a single
purpose, concentrate resources, and all march to the same drummer.
The Solution: A plan and strategy that maps out the
road ahead, sets priorities, and keeps the organization on course. To
insure its implementation year after year, involve the future leaders
in the process. That way they are committed to and understand the plan,
and when their turn at the helm comes, the objectives and goals are in
place. The resulting ride is much smoother and the route more direct.
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