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institutional development: December 2008 Archives

At a crossroads

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I was at a meeting recently discussing various heritage organizations and where they were in their institutional lifecycle. Each had issues that were impeding progress, almost all of them involving governance and/or leadership. "You know," said a colleague, "what each of these organizations has in common is that they're kind of stuck at a crossroads."

"That's true," I replied, "and there's a reason why you bury vampires at a crossroads."

Everyone in the room looked at me as though I had just sprouted three heads, or maybe was a member of the evil undead myself.

Now, I may be channeling my inner Buffy here, but the analogy is perfectly apt. According to some vampire lore, you really can't kill these bloodsucking beasts. All you can do is trap them and keep them contained where they can't wake up and harm anybody. A crossroads was considered to be a semi-cursed place that existed out of regular time and space. If you could manage to bury the vampire at a crossroads (sometimes with a stake in its heart) it couldn't escape and the villagers could get on with their lives.

So do you see the parallel? When you look at your nonprofit organization, what is sucking life out of it? Where are you stuck? Can you find a way to leave the "vampire" at the crossroads, choose a path, and move on? If you've learned to think strategically, you can chose the best direction in which to move forward, recognizing that sometimes there is no "right" way to go, only a "not wrong" way.

Supernatural analogies aside, every organization finds itself at a crossroads sometimes. You can get stuck there forever, or you can move on. If you need help getting out, that's ok. Call on your network and see if anyone you know has faced a similar situation. What did they do? Enlist the professionals like us if it's appropriate. Just find a way out.

Have a great weekend! Join me next week for more Muse View.







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