We all know that it's important to have policies and procedures. Boards seem to thrive on this task. Staff members feel comfortable if they have "rules" by which to run the organization. They make decision making easier in many cases.
But many a policy can be a booby trap on the road to success.
So think about your policies. They probably have words like "we don't" or "no ..." in many of them. For example, the senior center says "nobody under 60 in our programs" or a foundation may say "we don't make grants to individuals."
I'm sure these decisions were made with the best of intentions. But wouldn't it be more appropriate - for the business we are all in, which is being helpful - if we weren't so tight about policies?
How about language that doesn't prohibit things, but rather creates an atmosphere of possible solutions. Yes, it becomes a bit more ambiguous, but in the business of finding solutions, there is often great uncertainty.
Couldn't the foundation policy say something like "we prefer not to make grants to individuals so we may seek a nonprofit partner to carry out some activities for individuals." Or the senior center might say that "our programs are generally for those over 60 due to our limited space, but we are happy to talk with those under 60 who need assistance."
As you review your policies think about the "absolutes" in them and who they are really serving. Are they there to make decisions easier for everybody? Is that really the road to success in our world? I hope not.
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