This week a story came out that has been affecting morale in my school board for a while.  Our finances are not in order.

Cuts and changes are coming.

Reaction among my colleagues ranges from sadness to rage to bewilderment to lots of other feelings.  When I see tweets and retweets like these, I wonder what my colleagues are saying without saying it:

At the risk of absolving some behaviour that I find irresponsible and (for lack of a better word) gross, I wonder if this bad news can spark a fire for meaningful change.  Instead of looking for cuts, how might we look at this situation as an opportunity to rethink what we do and who we are?  

In A More Beautiful Question Warren Berger encourages this kind of reflective process:

What is true about us, at our core?

Knowing that answer becomes especially critical when a company finds itself in the middle of dramatic change.  The digital revolution has forced many companies to rebuild and rethink, sometimes pushing them into unfamiliar territory. A company that has figured out the basic question of identity and purpose is in a way better position to handle unsettling new questions such as What business are we in now?

This bit of Berger doesn’t really help tackle our particular financial needs.  It does, however, invite us to take a step back and determine how we might want to approach a reboot.  Who are we?  What do we value? Is that being kept in focus?

On his blog, Berger tells this story about Nike:

"Nike started out selling athletic shoes, but figured out early on that its real business was addressing active-lifestyle needs of all kinds. This enabled it to expand its offering and to evolve as its customers’ lives evolved. Continually asking this question becomes even more important in times of dynamic change. The business you started out in last month may not even exist next year, but if you’ve identified the real value you offer to the world, you can adapt and survive even as the market around you changes.”

I sincerely hope that these are some of the questions that are occupying the minds of our our decision makers.  Maybe I’m being overly optimistic, but I really think that there is a little bit of silver surrounding this dark cloud.


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