By Bill Thatcher
(Managing Director, More To Life)
Why This Time is Different
- Listening to You
- Sharing with You
- Learning with You
- Diagnosing and Choosing
- Stewarding by You
- Embracing the Now
- We are not finished – we are just getting started
Listening to You:
The Design & Align Initiative used proven techniques to produce reliable data, from you and for you. We have never attempted such an extensive effort to gather information from across the communities in the 35+ years of More To Life. It started by conducting one-on-one interviews with 125 current and former More To Life students worldwide. Over hundreds of hours, the interviewer asked both specific and open questions, allowing all those who took part to say what they wanted to say. Anonymized data were collated on what has worked, what has not worked, on prevailing perspectives of the state of MTL, and what needed to change.
Sharing with You:
The report of the interview results – all of it, the good, the bad, and the ugly – was shared widely both in small and larger gatherings and via multiple communication paths as part of the commitment to truth-telling. In effect, the question was asked, “What now do you want and choose to do?” There was a surprising amount of similar answers to fundamental questions. Here is the link to that first report:
Learning with you:
There was acceptance and broad acknowledgment of the seriousness of the condition of MTL’s organization and governance, realization that more of the same kind of minor fixes just wouldn’t do, and recognition that some aspects of our organizational culture were holding us back. Here is the link to the outcomes of the first Design & Align international conference devoted to looking at the data and mapping out a way forward:
Diagnosing and Choosing:
We identified two distinct types of changes: 1) technical problems – those things that can be fixed by modifying systems and mechanics; and 2) adaptive challenges – those things that require a change in attitude, belief, and behavior. We will be careful to not confuse one type of problem for the other, and we realize that often both types of problems may exist in one issue. The many voices calling for professional, expert, and skilled staff to be given the responsibility for core tasks were heard. Here is the link to the report of the second Design & Align international conference, which agreed to the overall change plan:
Operational authority – that is, authority over everything we do – is now vested in the Managing Director. This is not a top-down structure; however, MTL CEOs in the past were hamstrung by not having the authority bestowed with the responsibility for decision-making about MTL’s structure and governance. The Managing Director consults with and is accountable to the representative International Council of Stewards (ICS), which replaces the International Board, for ensuring that our operations reflect our strategic vision. The Managing Director has the responsibility for hiring professional staff to create an Operations Spoke (the organizational structure is patterned on a hub-and-spoke model rather than a traditional hierarchical model) including Directors of Marketing, Development, Products and Courses, Administration, Communications, and Country Program Directors. The Managing Director will also oversee the development of an international budget.
Stewarding by You:
The More To Life/Kairos Foundation is being put in the hands of you, the community, as stakeholders in the MTL vision. Unlike the International Board, the International Council of Stewards is composed of your representatives, selected by MTL leaders in each country, from your community. Trainers, Mentors, and Coaches also have representatives serving on the ICS, in recognition of their importance and the need, expressed by many in the community, to give them a formal role in the organization. The ICS takes on the task of holding the vision, holding to account our newly appointed professional management, and seeing to it that an effective strategy guides the organization.
Embracing the Now:
Since the departure of four trainers and one trainer candidate in 2015, the MTL trainers have re-grouped, re-visioned, and begun to implement substantial change. Some of those changes are: a) viable succession planning with three new Associate Trainers, twelve new Trainer Candidates, and more Trainer Strikers coming along; b) demystifying the pathway to becoming a trainer; c) identifying the steps needed to bring substantial alignment between the Trainer Body and the MTL community. More work by the trainers will be undertaken at their May 2017 conference.
We are not finished – we are just getting started:
We don’t know all the answers, but we are committed to keeping in touch and being open to course correction. One of our earliest appointments is a Communications Director, Peter Lurie, who is developing protocols and practices for consulting and informing the community, so that you know what is being done and how we are doing. We are also exploring a different form of organizational governance called Holacracy to determine if it is more suitable than a traditional organizational system to the experience, values, and geographic distribution of More To Life activities around the world (see holacracy.org/intro).