I have started some short-term support for a local organisation which has been through a bit of turbulence with its board of trustees. Others have got involved in the disputes and it seems as if it were quite unpleasant for some time. The remaining board members seem a bit shell-shocked and tentative. Do they really know what they are doing? How can they stop this sort of thing happening again? Haven't they got better things to do with their evenings and weekends?
I like my first meeting to end on an upbeat note and with actions. I am fairly confident about thinking on my feet and seeing a way forward after an hour talking through the issues. I have been doing this sort of thing for quite a long time. In this instance I am an outsider and it was easy to see that this was a well-run organisation which just needed a refresh. A bit like hitting the refresh button on your internet browser. Rather than looking at the webpage from when you last looked at it, you are looking at the webpage as it is now. This board needs to see their organisation as they are now not how they were when the battle was raging.
Rather than focus on the problems I asked them what they did best - what really worked well? Their shoulders relaxed and they smiled - how good it was to be talking about what they did well rather than focus problems. They organise a series of events over the year and seem to do this very well. One which they are particularly proud of has a real community focus. They were beginning to think that to make it work better they might need to commercialise it. I suggested if the good thing was the community element then they should work on making this element bigger and better. Capitalise on what works well and do more of that.
It is so easy to be mired in the past, in unhealthy situations and in identifying problems. The focus on problems can depress us and sap our energy. We do not need to ignore problem areas but we do need to move forward doing things that come easy to us, that bring us joy and that use the talents that we have rather than those that we don't. Small voluntary and community organisations such as local faith communities cannot be all things to all people. By focusing our energies on our current resources - people, things and money - we can create something that works well enough. If we feel that we are being successful then we are spurred on to do even more.