So often you have called me or spoken †o me in confidence to tell me that the reason you have chosen to do nothing about the mess that is JFNA is that there is really no option -- it's the mediocrity and worse that we have or the collapse of the organization leaving us with nothing at all. This has been framed to me as a true Hobson's Choice. And, each and every time I have heard this, I have responded with the reasons that, if one thinks about them, transforming change is still possible.
I was advised a long, long time ago by a great Jewish leader: "Richard, just remember -- don't defend the indefensible or deny the obvious." I have tried to be true to that advice. It's time for surgery, not bandaids.
When Jerry Silverman first took office, there was some hope after one of his first acts was to bring a superb professional, Mindy Hepner, back into the JFNA fold. I complimented him on these pages for that "rehire." But since, as one of you recently observed:
"It is the awful organizational culture that we have allowed to become entrenched within JFNA, where even the best people are confronted with the reality of organizational politics that could easily compete with any power-centered, empire-building bureaucracy.
Is it any wonder that good people that are not willing to play these games either run away or are chased away so often - and usually under such unpleasant circumstances?
I'm sure the results of the recently completed staff survey will show that JFNA is a great place to work (because if not, the results will either be doctored or not released).
A great place to work for the bosses and their cronies and for the line workers who don't really understand how bad things really are.
We, on the other hand, should understand how bad things really are and, more important, we should be doing something about it."And just how "bad" is it?
- Bad enough that there has been no Senior Vice-President FRD (or "Philanthropic Resources") for over six months;
- Bad enough that there has been no senior professional leader of JFNA-Consulting Services for over six months;
But it gets worse: there is not nor has there been a community planning professional staff at JFNA since, I believe, Bob Hyfler left during Rieger's years. Thus, everything (or, make that "anything") that is done at JFNA is ad hoc.
Where is the outcry? Can the lay leadership even comprehend the waste that must be taking place? FRD has a budget of close to $15 million -- how is it being spent? On what? I find it hard to believe that Richard Sandler and Jodi Schwartz, two lay leaders of incredible and proven commitment, continue to sit by -- I can almost hear the fiddling here in Chicago -- as if they lack the power to do anything about it.
"How bad things really are?" Really, really bad. Make that REALLY REALLY BAD."
Doing nothing is not a Hobson's Choice -- it is no choice at all.