3 Questions Before Talking About a New Program

“Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more.

Mark 4:21-24

In the nonprofit sector, most tragedies and PR nightmares have roots in a misconception or something revealed before it was ready for public exposure. It’s like the metaphor of a candle. Without some preparation of wax, oil, and matches, an idea can’t spark light in others. Likewise, putting an idea in public before others have their candles ready to accept the light can be risky and damaging. To protect the small flame of an idea, program, or concept, consider when it is appropriate to expose it to the cold winds that it could find in the public square.

For example, a board is facing the challenge of starting a new program. The CEO sounds really excited about it, but the math isn’t lining up on how much this new program will cost. A board member walks to their car after another turbulent meeting, and a friend runs into you. Fresh from the meeting, they ask how things are, and you are honest: “We’ve just been though another meeting. While there’s exciting things happening, I’m just not sure of the way forward for this program.” Unbeknownst to you, your friend is friends with an employee at the organization. In fact, this friend was on the way to meet up for lunch. Guess what the topic of the lunch conversation is?

Where is it appropriate to talk about those items that could be sensitive to share with people? A board meeting, the staff meeting, and with people already involved (and not by permission of gossip). That is the time to battle out possible issues, ask about sustainability, and to prepare for the announcement.

I read a book Great at Work that helped me understand this concept more of fight and unite. In the book, Morten Hansen discusses how it can be okay for people to have differing opinions in a meeting. Consensus decision-making can be fatal to a great idea. Instead, during a meeting about the topic, air the items that may cause conflict to refine ideas and reveal roadblocks. After the brainstorming, the refinement (which can’t be done without a little heat!), and the selection, the team should unite. Meaning, they leave the meeting knowing that although they have stated their disagreement and were heard, ultimately, they support the decision the team will move forward on publicly. The team will be united in their forward motion.

This fight and unite concept negate the needs for meetings after the meeting, sent emails with a request to delete after reading, and rumors that may hurt the nonprofit seeking to reach its mission. As today’s verse says, what you give you’ll receive even more. Being respectful of the team’s decision means your decisions will be respected, too. If you talk about the nonprofit’s inner workings, what you talk about will come back around. You’ll hear yourself from someone else and you might not like what you hear!

So how do you know when it’s appropriate to share something about a nonprofit? Ask yourself these three questions:

  • Has it been approved by the board officially? (Fight and unite.)
  • If the CEO was in the room, would I hesitate to talk about it? (In other words, if it ended up on the top of tomorrow’s social media feed, what could be the repercussions?)
  • What is my motivation on sharing about the issue? What will be gained?

A bonus question to ask yourself is, do I have the time and energy to engage on this topic as a subject matter expert? You may not feel like the expert, but your role will position you to be viewed as the expert.

Board members, staff members, and volunteers are still human. They will want to connect with people and that is okay. Let your light shine, just don’t give away all your matches and spare wicks in the process.

Prayer: Lord, it’s hard to know the way forward sometimes. Guide me in my thoughts, actions, and words so that I can see your kingdom light up.

Consider a time you saw a team “fight and unite.” How was the outcome of that project? Successful or not? Share your thoughts on Facebook @HopelesslyHopefulBooks. https://www.facebook.com/HopelesslyHopefulBooks

One final tip–your personal core values can become a stabilizing factor when you are launching a new program. Join me for a a one-hour FREE webinar this Thursday on January 21, 2021 at 5:30 pm PT to find your Core Values Re-Imagined. Learn more and register here.

Photo by Ai Nhan on Unsplash

© 2021, Mollie Bond. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.molliebond.wordpress.com.

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