A colleague once called it dying from the “ism”s: nepotism, seniority-ism, boy’s club-ism, best friend-ism and the like. I know you have seen it before. Organizations sometimes suffer from this cancer – undiagnosed in their self-diagnosis (outsiders can see it and call it fairly easily).
In amazement, I have watched a local not-for-profit organization suffer from these ills. At first I thought it was this strange lack-of-profit model and its inherent motivation (or lack thereof) that defined this organizations challenge. Until this weekend, when a CFO friend explained that the “Midas Rule” – He who has the gold makes the rule - can apply to all organizations large and small, with and without profit goals.
I have watched as 2 guys have operated above the law and rule on decisions as long as it satisfies their own agenda as opposed to that which is best for the organization. I have watched as these two rationalized and justified each and every decision against each and every question or challenge to their decisions. I have watched them systematically eliminate anyone that would dare challenge their decision with the most innocent of reasoning shielding their true agenda – to rule; because it defines them; because without the ability to rule, they themselves become irrelevant.
Proper approaches, industry best practices and industry standards do not require a moral defense. Transparent models and exposed business practices do not need spin and rationalization. Fairness does not have any use for secrets and closed door shady deals.
Luckily, I have nothing to lose or gain in this equation. I am simply watching from the sidelines. But an entire community is losing and losing badly. When logic does not apply and reality is ignored and politics rein the organization and in this case the community it serves, is the one that suffers. And suffer for years. You see, a community does not have quarterly objectives to serve as traffic signals to where it is versus where it should be. A community does not cater to monthly profit projections as a warning sign of reckless leadership and boardroom ADHD. A community is not forced to publish an annual report such that its shareholders – its citizens – can reward great performance or opt for change. So it fails to notice as it slowly diminishes into a ghost town and a “remember what used to be there” town.
Did I mention, the very purpose of this, organization (for lack of a better word), is to cater to the needs of about one thousand kids every year?
The ism’s … are a cancer.