Change management is a skill that charity leaders need to have in spades.
You see the requirement to have successfully managed change in job descriptions advertised in Third Sector and elsewhere every week. What this means will depend on where a charity is in its development. However, you can be certain that "manage the status quo" is not something that trustee boards will require of their chief executives or the senior management team. No-one in our sector should get up in the morning with the plan to keep things exactly the same as the day before.
However "permanent revolution" is not a phrase we associate with our sector. In fact we often shy away from the idea that we are revolutionary. Too Che Guevara? The posters many had on university bedroom walls don’t usually make it to the office of the charities where they now work. Yet, revolution has changed the world again and again. The Industrial Revolution that brought the dark satanic mills also brought charity and philanthropy. The Digital Revolution we have all experienced in our lifetime has created the ability to connect to every corner of the globe and respond to the needs of the most dispossessed.
Aung San Suu Kyi once said: "For me, 'revolution' simply means radical change". In our sector all change is potentially radical. We are all, potentially, revolutionaries. This statement alone will scare the living daylights out of many in positions of power. Gradual change and managing evolution is their raison d’etre. Yet every major thinker and innovator across the centuries has been a revolutionary in their own times.
My challenge to our sector is to step away from change management and move towards revolution. Ambition to fundamentally alter the society in which we live should be at the heart of our values and our daily work. Such ambition doesn’t have to be threatening to those around us. It should be inspiring. We should go into work every day recognising that every one of us can transform the world in which we live and work. It doesn’t matter if you are in administration or delivering front line services, or are the chief executive or the receptionist.
All of us should be ambitious for our beneficiaries and for our sector.This ambition begins with our charity vision of a society that is better and that meets unmet need. It continues with the work that we do every day to meet that need and deliver our shared purpose of a better world. As Elvis Presley once said "Ambition is a dream with a V8 engine".
Let’s get fired up. Let’s make a revolution.