Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Generation change and...

My current newsletter is out, and the topic is Generation Change and Your Staff.
This is the first in a number of issues this year that will deal with Generation Change in different contexts. I'll look at: Generation Change and the People You Serve (May), Generation Change and Technology (September), and Generation Change and Marketing (November).

All of this is because the huge issue of generation change is on my mind for good reason: My newest book is coming out in about a month. It's called Generations: The Challenge of A Lifetime for Your Nonprofit, and will be published by Fieldstone Alliance. You can see more about the book at pre-order if you are interested at the Fieldstone site.

When I talk to a room full of CEO's and board members and mention generation change, all the heads nod. They all know this is an issue, but my experience is that they see it through one lens, not the huge gumbo of competing stresses, changes and opportunities that the changing of the generations offers. For example, lots of the audience will be thinking: "Oh, he means Executive Transition." Others will be thinking "Yeah, I'm having so much conflict with my 20-something staff." And still others will be considering generation change as a fund-raising opportunity.

You know, the old story about the blind men and the elephant.

And, truth be told, I thought the issue was pretty simple until about five years ago, when people began to come up to me at training sessions and say: "I love what you say about our nonprofit being a mission-based business. I came to this organization two years ago after 25 years at GE (or in the military) and I love what we do, but I still can't talk to these people!"
Then, someone else would come up and talk to me about inter-generational conflict, or how old their board was, or how "all our volunteers are dying off", and my warning sensors began to go off.

A few months later I was speaking at a convention of CFO's and one of the workshops was on paying for retirement for Boomer managers. Ahh, crap. There's a financial side to this, too. That did it.

I dove into the subject and started reading and studying, and right after Nonprofit Stewardship came out in 2004, I started working on my editor, explaining that generation change would be a really, really important topic, and we needed to get going. He agreed, but wanted to wait for a while. I was not happy, but it turns out he was completely right.

I don't think our timing could be better. There is a regular "Boomer Files" section of Newsweek, discussion of boomer retirement on CNN, articles on generational conflict in the workplace (I found 12 titles on the subject on Amazon when I started my research, I'm sure there are more now. This issue has gotten on to the radar of foundations, United Ways, and university nonprofit programs.

I hope the book is a help to the sector. We'll see

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