Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Good to Great in a Decentralized Organization - The Cabrini Connections Holiday Vision

I've been a leader of a tutor/mentor program since 1974, and every year I feel that I have a greater appreciation for the gifts I've been given, and the lessons I learn from the people I meet through this organization. Last Christmas, Rebecca Parrish gave me the book "The Spider and the Starfish" as a present. As I read it, I realized that this book was describing our organization.

We are a decentralized organization in which each volunteer is the CEO of his/her own tutoring/mentoring business. You individualize your weekly activities based on the needs of your student, your own abilities and time, and the level of experience you have gained. We can support you with structure, ideas, information, but it is your own learning and networking with other volunteers that gives you ideas for what you do.

In a utopian world, our kids would also be growing into CEOs who take charge of their own futures, drawing support from each volunteer, from Cabrini Connections, and from the network of resources made available by the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

While I'm the catalyst that has drawn hundreds of people together each year, our success comes as each of you and many others become the leaders and owners of the vision of Cabrini Connections. If we surround kids with a wide range of adults from different workplace backgrounds, we can expand their experiences, their aspirations, and the network of adults who can help them reach jobs and careers.

If we help make programs like this available in every high poverty neighborhood, we can not only help thousands of kids and volunteers enjoy the same experiences as Cabrini Connections, we can also create teams of volunteers who work in the same industry, and who will work as a group to help programs like Cabrini Connections be more effective at connecting kids and volunteers and mentoring youth to careers.

In another book, titled Good To Great and the Social Sectors, a flywheel effect is described, which is a process of constant learning, and constant improvement, that makes good organizations great.

I hope that over the holidays you'll read these books, and review the goals and mission of Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection

We need to be applying this thinking in our own ongoing efforts to help each of us and our kids become owners of their own futures, and to help Cabrini Connections be the type of organization that can support you the way each volunteer and student needs to be supported.

Finally, I encourage each of you to think of yourself as the CEO of our fund raising efforts. As you tell your friends and family about your volunteer involvement, point them to the Cabrini Connections donor page so they can make a contribution to support your involvement, or become a volunteer themselves.

On behalf of our volunteer board of directors, I wish you all a safe and happy holiday season.

Dan Bassill
President, CEO
Cabrini Connections
Tutor/Mentor Connection

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