Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How to win friends and influence people

Was in a discussion about the future direction of the Unitarian community.  The thread started by an EC member (the only one who engages on Facebook) begins thus

I'm on the EC. Throw things if you like!

(But I think he was only joking!)

My contribution was summed up by him as 

Louise Rogers questions's Jen's view that youth are essential to our future .... 

In fact I argued that we should not be supporting young people just so that at some point in the future they should take over the running of a congregation.  In the case of the Newcastle-under-Lyme congregation the vast majority of active adults are adult converts. I actually wrote

I think that providing support to youth is vital but not so that they can run anything.

You'd be hard pressed to summarise this as not thinking that youth are essential to our future - but I guess that if you try hard enough you can.  He goes on

... and (Louise Rogers) argues that we should not say that the choices we need to make are difficult.

I actually wrote 

Our choices are no more difficult than those that the majority of organisations have to make. Once we call things difficult choices we imbue them with an emotional content around struggle and anguish. The situation that we have today is what we live with, we are hoping to make things better - this is about a brighter future not a difficult choice.

So I did not say that the choices weren't difficult just that they were similar to what other organisations had to make and that how you define things creates a different emotional picture.  You'd be hard pressed to summarise this as me saying that the choices weren't difficult - but I guess that if you try hard enough you can. 

I also wrote about how to take forward strategic development.  I suggested that we should start with what needs young people had.  This person then responded 

Please, tell us what needs we have, what outcomes are required, and how we should best fit those into the available resources (or expand the resources).

I replied 

I do not sit nationally with a view on what our needs are. The EC has done at least two listening exercises over the past few years. If the EC does not have a view on what the needs are then to put it bluntly either you weren't asking the right questions or you weren't listening. (He did suggest that we throw things - clearly he was joking!) It is not for me to say what outcomes young people want, it's for the young people. Once this information was available then I think that the EC should lead the debate on how to do this but I would be happy to help as I am sure others would.

No response to that one.

I then rewrote the summary of my contributions as 

Louise Rogers thinks that support to youth is vital. She suggests a needs-led strategic approach to our development and also suggests that we entitle our strategic development as (creating) brighter futures. 

I remain disappointed with this member of the EC.

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