|by Hildy Gottlieb
Copyright ReSolve, Inc.
are no more important issues for the future of our communities than education
and health. And because we have been spending more and more time with leaders
in both fields over the past few years, we have observed some interesting
trends, at least among the people who bring us in to talk about their
communities (a self-selected sample, if ever there were
healthcare, these are individuals who are tired of talking about community
sickness in the guise of community health; folks who are tired of aiming all
their efforts at creating non-sickness, instead of talking about what health
would really look like.
schools, these are folks who are tired of talking about drop-out rates and gang
violence. They want to move forward to talk about changing the face of
education in our communities, in our country.
healthcare and education, knowing that we typically get what we aim for, these
are individuals who are tired of aiming their most creative discussions at a
negative best case scenario: Ending what they do NOT like about their
communities. These are individuals who want to begin aiming instead at
beginning and creating something amazing.
schools and hospitals tend to get so bogged down in the day to day. How can our
school districts (and where applicable, individual charter and/or private
schools) look up from the morass, to aim at creating a community that is
educated, brilliant, wise? How can hospitals, who (like it or not) have become
the critical centerpiece in community health discussions, aim our communities
at being healthy, resilient places to live?
these 7 ideas get you thinking. Because we are creating the future, whether you
are thinking about that or not!
Ourselves Accountable for the Community’s
board creating a future you would want to be held accountable for? You are
creating the future whether you hold yourselves accountable for it or not. And
you will be held responsible for the consequences your actions and decisions
cause, in the short term and the long term. All that is true, whether you want
to think about it or not.
what future do you want to hold yourselves accountable for creating? When your
community looks back in ten years and twenty years and fifty years, what do you
want to be held responsible for?
2) Planning for
the Future You Want to Create
board planning for the future you want for your community? If you hold
yourselves accountable for the future you are creating, that will require
aiming for that future more consciously as you plan. What do you want the
future to look like for the community you serve? How can you plan to make that
vision of the future a reality?
3) Are You
Measuring Success or Lack of Failure?
you measuring when you measure “success?” Are you measuring
something incredible, something horrible, or something irrelevant? If your
board is leading a hospital, are you measuring lack of sickness? Or are you
working to determine what indicators might show real community health and
board is leading a school or school district, are you measuring test scores, or
are you measuring learning? Are you measuring knowledge and wisdom, and trying
to determine what indicators might show that? Or are you looking at negative
indicators such as drop-out rates?
here’s a riddle: If you are uncertain how to measure those things right
now, do you want to create a future where you continue not knowing how to
measure what is most important to your community? Or do you want to stake a
claim in determining those indicators, and starting to measure them?
engaging the community in building their own health and their own knowledge and
learning? Or are you making decisions for them? How much less stress would
there be if we engaged folks in big issues before making decisions, rather than
taking the heat after making the decision for them (and often having to reverse
Community problems and issues
deserve community discussion. Not a gathering of the likely suspects - the city
council and other big wigs. And not a public hearing where you will listen
obligatorily as citizens voice their opinions.
discussion encourages you to ask yourselves, for every issue of importance,
“Whose future (and present) will this affect? How can we engage them in
creating that future for themselves?”
Remember: Strong leaders do not make
decisions FOR people; they make decisions WITH people. And that is especially
true if you want to create an amazing future for your
5) Walking the
Talk / Doing Your Work with Integrity
focus on creating the future of our communities, and we consider engaging the
community in that discussion in a very real way, we begin to recognize the
importance of behaving well together - doing our work in a way the community
can not help but admire. This is not about whatever the final decsion or action
is. It is about the actions you take to get there. It is about walking the
more controversial the subject matter, the more it will matter that you do the
work on that subject with integrity, inclusion,
community always say, “I may not agree with their decision, but the
decision was made in as fair and inclusive a way as I have ever seen.”
That is more likely to happen if the community can say, “We created that
decision together,” rather than, “They acted like they were
listening, but did what they wanted to do anyway.”
our work in a way that forces us to rationalize our behaviors squanders our
resources, and it squanders our potential. And those actions themselves are
going to be creating the future - is that the kind of future you want to
6) Building Upon
the Community’s Strengths
build programs, are you starting from zero and building from the ground up? Or
are you building those programs upon a core of shared community resources, at
every possible point? Are you engaging your community’s physical
resources, its human resources, your own mission’s resources, the
resources of the for profit and government and nonprofit sectors?
people get involved by sharing what they have, they feel ownership of the very
issues you grapple with every day. And the effort becomes stronger just from
that shared infrastructure.
The first and last things
that stand between any of us and a better place to live is the belief that such
a future is possible. If we do not believe it is possible, we will not aim for
7) Building a
Culture of Possibility
Engage the community
in creating an incredible future!
by Hildy Gottlieb
we fail to aim, we are almost guaranteed to not get
future for our communities is possible, simply because it is not impossible.
While the past is gone, and there is little about today we can influence, the
future is where all our power lies.
communities’ schools and hospitals are making decisions every day that
will help create that future. The choice is ours.