Then there was this Comment:
So, perhaps, this speculation is driving delusion; perhaps this speculation feeds the CEO's need to serve a most public role in multiple GA venues -- a role that would/could better be played by others (even G-d forbid, lay people); perhaps this speculation is the catalyst for the multiple press releases and interviews that preceded the GA all self-serving, all ridiculous and all announcing that "I am the indispensable person, I am the 'thought leader.'" Uh huh.
When the Silverman/Siegel proposal was published yesterday (11/7) in EJP the tweet/like/share response was about as low as you can get. It seems even their own accolytes including a power tweeter on senior management are distancing themselves and the internal shunning (a long held tradition at JFNA/UJC) is now actively at work. I'd look for an announcement shortly after the GA if not during.
And, perhaps, in the scenario that has been the last four years there have been lessons that might serve Jerry's successor well. Among them (and I am sure there are many more):
- Understand the core values that drive success. The current and immediate past JFNA CEOs not only rejected the history of the federations (the former knew them but rejected them; the current CEO continues to have no apparent clue). Those values can drive success and create historical continuity, instead, there is no connection between our system's core values and the national institution... a prescription for the very failure we see all around us.
- Tell the truth -- For example, what would have been wrong with first telling the JFNA Co-Chairs "this is going to be a very hard GA to populate given costs and logistics and the failures of the past GAs. But we are going to break our backs to make the program so compelling and so exciting and we have a major recruitment plan and we will keep you posted every step of the way." But, no, as I understand it, the CEO continued to misrepresent the terrible numbers into the Summer and, then, it was too late -- not too late to continue to misstate registration right into the GA itself -- "we got 3,000!!" -- the history of fake numbers empowered the CEO to make those misrepresentations weekly to the JFNA Chairs. There have been other instances of untruths -- the one sticking in my craw was evidenced by Silverman's willing, even eager, endorsement of the fabrication that Manning did not utter the words "no Zionism -- too controversial" at a GPT meeting, something that he knew had happened. Yet, he felt unrestrained by the truth in misrepresenting what Manning had said to federation CEOs across the country.
- Stop the favoritism. There is ample evidence that at JFNA the federations with the gold rule...and rule...and rule. A CEO who understands the system would make it clear that he or she is listening to all federations -- to their CEOs and their leaders. When a Large Intermediate or Intermediate Federation lay and professional leaders see a Large City cut an undisclosed Dues deal and its new CEO put on panel after panel at GAs on subjects with which his community has had no demonstrable success while they get no speaking privileges (other than to kiss the JFNA CEO's ring), small issues grow to big ones. An excellent manager, be it in business, in law firms, in federations knows how it's done -- but not at JFNA. This has to change.
- Focus on the big issues and get some quick victories -- this CEO focused on what in his first years? Community heroes, #ish, TribeFest (all failed)and the tried and true hand-me-downs from UJA and CJF, the "rebranding" to JFNA (the name chosen by UJA-CJF pre-merger)? That's it? And other shiny objects -- the Global Planning Table among them -- began to capture JFNA's attention. There were neither big issues nor victories of any kind and haven't been.
- Get over yourself. Know that JFNA is neither about you nor about JFNA -- it is to be about federations. Understand that there is no reason for arrogance, only humility. Succeed by doing not by talking; and cliche and jargon merely communicate failure. Listen to advice and don't reject criticism out of hand even from those you won't countenance out of spite or pique.
- Hire the best and brightest. Instead of reaching out to hire the best and brightest as a focus, the last two CEOs have engineered a brain drain from the highest ranks within JFNA of the best and brightest. I won't embarrass them by naming them, but they have gone on to great success with among others Tel Aviv University, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, JA and the JDC, World ORT, among so many. Many former JFNA professionals have been engaged by a broad array of federations around the Continent to supply what JFNA now can't. Friends, if you can't keep the best, how do you recruit the best? When this exodus began -- at the very beginning of an avalanche of departures -- I asked the then Chair of the Executive to do some exit interviewing, to understand how bad things were -- she never did so.
- Transparency. A concept apparently unknown to the CEO and embodied in the questions unasked by a succession of Chairs. "Never ask, never tell." Shouldn't the laity know what is the total of all consultant contracts; who are the individual consultants and how much is each paid (including the ubiquitous Ms. Smith); what has been the return on investment from each consultant contract -- for starters. There are millions being paid out to consultants. And how are GA deficits handled -- how are the deficits there and at TribeFests, for example, "processed" within JFNA -- certainly there has been no formal Executive Committee action, no Board review. There is no transparency at JFNA, not in its Budget and not in its practice. It appears that staff has, at its whim, shifted dollars from one Budget line to another while everyone involved, right up to the Treasurer, sits with the hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil attitude...as cheerleaders, not as the fiduciaries they are supposed to be.
When will things change? When the Co-Chairs realize they are in fact the Co-Chairs.