I’m sorry.

My husband and I talk about this a lot, as we watch the daily news. People are always trying to wiggle out of responsibility for the mistakes they’ve made, the people they’ve injured, the messes that others have to clean up.

Whatever happened to “I’m Sorry?”  Whatever happened to “It’s my fault?”   Whatever happened to “I made a mistake, I will fix it?

scuplture of people with bent headsThis post from Sarah Andrus says it clearly and concisely. When we make a mistake, we must own it and make reparations. Her post talks about individuals, but it’s equally true of organizations. “My Bad…” or How to Handle Mistakes With Grace

This is where a culture of ethics and accountability can make all the difference. If your organization has a culture in which individuals – both board and staff – are known to take responsibility for mistakes and are not unduly punished for them, then each person can feel more comfortable owning his or her mistakes.  Honesty and integrity become the hallmarks for which you are known. The receptionist can feel proud of working for you, the donor can be proud of supporting you, your community will offer up new board members.

Think about it.  If all the time and energy spent in evading responsibility were instead spent in fixing the problem and taking steps so it doesn’t happen again, then the entire organization moves forward that much faster.

Where would you rather work – where energy is spent covering it up, or where energy is spent making it right?  



Where are you now?

Where are you now?

Before 1973, no one ever asked where are you? when they reached you on the phone. Of course they knew where you were. You were within 3 feet of the telephone they had dialed (now that’s an anachronism!). Thirty years later, times have changed. Today, because of mobile phones, one of the first things we ask when we reach someone is, where are you?retro telephone detwiler mission standards for excellence governance

Where are you? An innocuous casual question that turns quite profound when you ask it of your organization. If, in 30 years, the world has changed so we call individuals instead of a place, has your nonprofit kept pace? Do you still ask your constituents to come to your location, or do your meet them where they are? Have your programs evolved to meet the new mobility of society? Has your mission changed?

Society’s rate of change has accelerated. When was the last time your board of directors evaluated whether your programs are still relevant, much less whether your mission is? Once every 10 years isn’t enough (and maybe it never was). But certainly  never shouldn’t be the answer.

In fact, maybe now is when you should ask, where are you?