Sunday, September 6, 2009


In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal -- Tishman Struggles with Office Portfolio (August 19, 2009) -- Tishman Speyer's determination to emerge from the real estate recession with strength was discussed at some length. The article concludes with a quote from the firm's co-founder, Jerry Speyer; "If you don't take any risks, you don't have any rewards."

I am among those who believe that UJC should take risks, should be a place for experimentation, for new ideas. In other non-profit organizations experiments have ripened into best practices -- from Chicago's "extreme FRD" to Los Angeles's "LA Direct" and on and on. In each place of which I am aware, these experiments, these new ideas flowed from and through construction, debate into implementation. But, not at UJC:The Federations of North America (or whatever is the name du jour). At UJC there is risk without process and the results speak for themselves.

Let's look at the Reorganization Strategy of blessed memory. Imposed as a set of "management changes," they imposed significant policy changes without any governance approvals. The following year's Budget was structured to "implement" the Reorganization. Two years later the Strategy was abandoned as if it never existed in the first place. Before implementation of this sad chapter, UJC lay leaders were literally "summoned" to New York, told that they could ask questions but there would be no changes.

This was the pattern that operated everywhere. The 2010 Budget was approved by the Budget Committee last Spring ostensibly to "implement" the FLI Recommendations. When Budget Committee members began to ask serious questions, they were admonished that that was not their role -- their role was to approve the Budget as submitted -- and there "wasn't time." (Those who did the "admonishing" may have failed to read the By-Laws as they pertain to the creation and role of the UJC Budget & Finance Committee.)

Round and round it goes, where it stops nobody knows? UJC has been run under the current regime as if it were Tishman Speyer. It's not.


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