Sunday, December 6, 2020

Change to the nth Degree



Columbia Association (CA) is experiencing a year of transition and disruption. Simultaneously, the community, while still educating their children from home, is undergoing rapid multi-structural change that has accelerated to the nth degree. Understandably, CA has struggled to address the multiple, often overlapping crises that have unfolded at warp speed.

Although many in leadership positions would like to think of the COVID-19 crisis as an aberration, it may not be. CA's building of a Sports and Fitness Business model created a different reality. In this new reality, village association funding has been squeezed and many on the senior leadership team have encouraged the closing of neighborhood centers, tot lots, and outdoor pools. These are the very assets that create public value for this community. I have too much respect for our village associations and my neighbors to support these policies. COVID-19 may have introduced a "new normal," "change to the nth degree". 

Effective leadership will be defined by the ability to navigate this phenomenon, not binary thinking (yes/no, good/bad, start/finish). While binary thinking feels safe, and many believe that things happen in a linear, orderly fashion, this is not how the world works. CA should not attempt to project its past business model into the future as it exposes a fundamental error, binary thinking. In CA's case, a binary approach pits the current Sport and Fitness Division business model versus a public values model. The current model cannot adapt to the exponential challenges facing our community. The community must work towards a shared purpose and common values. No longer should it be acceptable to "assess" the residents at an average annual rate of $1,030 per residential property to support the losses of the Sports and Fitness Division. The actual and projected losses for FY 2017 through FY 2021 will total $41.7 million, which is more than the projected $40 million residential and commercial assessment revenue combined for FY 2021. Looking at CA's operations through the lens of common values does not mean close the Sports and Fitness Division. Rather we must in real time analyze and adapt the Sports and Fitness Division to become more sustainable and based on public value. Success will be the culmination of dozens of small projects coming together over time. The decisions will never be easy. They will involve trade-offs and risks. Success will be messy, as it will unfold publicly in a world of exponential challenges. Success will involve unleashing the leadership abilities of each of the members of the CA's Board of Directors and building trust throughout the community by exhibiting openness and transparency.   

I will be hosting a virtual town hall to discuss the Proposed CA FY 2022 Operating and Capital Budgets on January 12, 2021 at 7pm. An email link will be sent out during the first week in January. Residents are encouraged to attend and participate.     


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