The ﬁrst and most important aspect in confronting reality is that the dominant perception of our organization in the community is that
ACS is a valuable but
.This perception undeniably affects our revenue in that we rely heavily on membership dues,and if we are perceived as valuable but not essential, then when our member organizationsneed to trim their own budgets, ACS membership is an easy item to cut.The second most important aspect in confronting reality is that
not only morevaluable but absolutely essential
to member organizations, key inﬂuencers, the local media,organizations’ clients, service providers and community members.The third most important aspect of confronting reality is that
we probably cannot do it with ourcomposition current board and current staff.
No changes need to be made today. But, if wechoose as an organization to become more valuable and absolutely essential, it is most likelythat a scan of the board and staff three years from now will look signiﬁcantly different.These are the most painful, the most true and -- perhaps -- the most encouraging. We areperceived as essential, we can become essential and we can start today, and we’re going tohave to make changes in who WE are as an organization.Here are some other points to ponder when confronting reality.
As a 40-year old organization, we are at a natural point of renewal and regeneration. Thecore “city” of Howard County is facing similar challenges. Not to advocate for one vision or another of what Columbia should become, but more to point to the phenomenon that it isnatural for an organization, place and -- especially -- person to have to face who they are intheir early 40s. The gift of the mid-life crisis is to be able to look upon a past and decide whathas been valuable, to look upon the present and confront reality about exactly where youstand now, and to decide into the last half of life who you want to be. Inside of that questionit is important to answer what you want to take from your past, what you want to discard andwhat you need to gain/get/become in order to live the second half of your life as you want.This is a natural cycle and ACS is in such a mid-life crisis at this point in time.
Deep cultural shifts
The cultural shift that is occurring at this point is more signiﬁcant and impactful on power structures, information sharing, alliances and values than most people are able to currentlygrasp. The thinking, style and methods of successful collaboration and organizationaleffectiveness that worked from the mid-80s to the mid 00s is losing steam. New cultural