Monday, May 18, 2009

You suggest, therefore you do

Have you noticed the tendency of people who serve on community-based non-profit boards to say, "Someone should do something about this," and then wait for someone else to do it?

Many years ago, when I was president of our town's soccer club, a volunteer organization, I was inspired at a board meeting to invent a new rule. It went like this: If a member of our Board proposed that we should do something, it became that person's responsibility to get it done. This became codified as "The Levy Rule," and it has been passed down from generation to generation.

Last week, I was refereeing a soccer game, and I saw one of the coaches from another town who serves on the board of the regional soccer organization. He gave me a friendly welcome and then said, "You know, we still follow your rule." "My rule?", I said. "Yes, The Levy Rule, where if you suggest something at a board meeting, you have to do it."

Little did I know that my influence had spread. Anyway, I offer it to you now, for your consideration. It is an excellent way for a community organization with limited resources and volunteers to vet new proposals!

8 comments:

JoJoJangJang said...

I have a related rule... don't complain about something unless you're willing to do something about it (within reason). For example, using the soccer analogy, don't complain about the fields being overgrown unless you're willing to organize them being trimmed.

e-Patient Dave said...

My college advisor Tom Allen was practicing "Great idea - you own it" decades ago.

No, wait, that was just a couple of years ago, right?

And now that I think about it, JoJo's related rule pretty much matches my feeling about healthcare. There seem to be a lot more people complaining about various parts of the elephant than have constructive thoughts on grooming. :–)

Anonymous said...

I've always told my kids, if you don't like what we are having for supper I am more than willing to hand over the responsibility- and trust me, I did. I now have three capable cooks!

Wendy S. Harpham, MD said...

"The Levy Rule" -- excellent.
With hope, Wendy

Anonymous said...

A caveat here is the recognition that often too many non-profit roles in an organization have a 'big mandate, little authority' problem. This includes lay leadership, where much of the means to make things happen lies in the willingness of others to follow through. There can be considerable frustration in the inability or disinterest of bureaucracies to use the muscle of governance to change status quo. How much power do Boards have? And who gives them that power?

Anonymous said...

One of the challenges to the rule involves those who are not invested in the work to improve. An organization in my area subscribes to this rule, and as a result, the staff have stopped making suggestions at all for fear of the increased workload that will occur. They do not have enough support from leadership to allow them the time and resources to create the change; rather they must find the time and resources within the existing busy day. Perhaps a corollary to this rule is necessary?

Paul Levy said...

I should have made clear. There are no staff people in these community organizations, just volunteers.

PookieMD said...

My only question: does that cut down on suggestions? Actually, I love that idea, and have a personal rule: I can't complain about something unless I have a fix. (Please don't ask how often I actually follow the rule!)