Think about a time before today. Information was controlled by those in the know and programs, services and projects in the non-profit and public sector were largely dependent upon specific people to deliver them. People built programs, they developed services and interventions that were based on their ideas, experience and their access to information. Focus was on building and doing programs, creating and owning models of service delivery. This was especially relevant at the birth of many non-profits 30-40 years ago. The success of such programs and services were dependent on the architect being integral to the delivery and thus…the age of “this is program is nothing without me” was born.
Come back to today. Information is far more accessible to the masses, many programs and services have a long history and it is uncommon to create a truly new and revolutionary service delivery model.
I was recently talking with a genX colleague of mine, who had just had an altercation with one of his staff. This staff person had stormed into his office threatening that if he didn’t get what he wanted he would resign and “his” programs would fail without him. He stated “this program is nothing without me, I have spent 30 years making it what it is, you could never have the information I have.”
Interesting comment. Is it correct that someone could “never have the information” that 30 years has created? In a day and age where 4 hours of online research on best practice will elicit dozens of models, pilots, outcomes, and research studies that 30 years have created, I doubt the information is unattainable. So what does that mean for ownership of programs and the “this program is nothing without me” mentality? I propose that it is not the program that one owns in today’s workforce, but the results.
My friend’s response….”I hate to break it to you, but you don’t own the program, you own the results. The program is replicable. Instead of focusing all this energy on owning your program start considering making better results.”
Results…a concept readily embraced by GenX’ers. We know we are not indispensible in the work place, we know what we create can be taken, changed, moved or adapted. We are not necessarily loyal to a program or agency, but invested in the results and outcome it could create. We grew up at the beginning of the information age and we learned how to adapt. We don’t own programs or services. In fact, we often consider ourselves successful when somebody uses our “model” program. It is not the doing part of the program or service that we focus on, it is the results that it creates that are important to us. We don’t think we are unique in our creation of a program but in the outcome.
It today’s non-profit workforce, it is time to move from “this program is nothing without me” to…”I can give you results that others can not”. It will make your GenerationX managers happier and your value as an employee higher.