The Brutally Honest Mission

James Gilmore, speaking on authenticity, said the following at ASAE earlier this week:

Associations today are a platform to maintain the current paradigm.

Another way of saying that: Associations are largely engines for preservation of the status quo.

I’ve seen plenty of evidence for this in my career. Despite often rather high minded and flowery missions, many groups act to preserve the interests of their members over all else. The operational behaviors of the organization reveal their true purpose.

This is not a bad thing, necessarily. However, if you are in the status quo business, why not dedicate yourself to it? Many organizations would be more effective if they were brutally honest about why they exist.

A brutally honest status quo mission would allow the organization to jettison activities that take up a lot of time and resources without any commitment to change. This would free up that energy for outcomes to which you are actually committed.

Then you can have very productive discussions, such as: what have we done to maintain the status quo today?

I am being a bit tongue in cheek with this post but I think the underlying lesson is there, related to Gilmore’s presentation. Can you “render authenticity,” accruing the benefits Gilmore says come of such an approach, if you are inauthentic about why you exist?

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