Wednesday, 28 September, 2011

Plan Y

Paul Bates: YMCA and the Economy

Throughout the Fall, I am pleased to bring you a series of information, insights and ideas presented by guest bloggers. Today I am pleased to welcome Laura Palmer Korn, Senior Vice President for Federation Strategy at YMCA Canada.
– Scott

Laura Palmer Korn

Laura Palmer Korn

On Thursday September 15, Paul Bates made a presentation to the YMCA about managing in volatile economic times. He provided useful insights and relevant advice on how the YMCA can not only manage but thrive in these challenging times.

Paul advised us to focus on cash, risk (financial and reputation), growth and infrastructure.

  • Cash flow is especially important during economic volatility. One way to focus on cash is match variable revenue with variable expenses while minimizing fixed costs where possible.

    Paul Bates

    Paul Bates

  • According to Paul, the reputation of YMCAs in Canada is both an opportunity and a challenge. To leverage and manage our reputation, there is a greater need for compliance. This is a great fit with the upcoming brand refresh in 2012 and the implementation of the brand strategy.
  • Paul suggested that the best decisions on growth are often made during challenging economic times because organizations are forced to plan and re-evaluate what they do and the way they do business. The development of Plan Y and its strategies represents some of the critical decisions that have been made and will continue to be made in the next five years.
  • Organizations should also evaluate whether existing infrastructure and assets (physical and human) have the ability to generate revenue and make a positive contribution.

By focusing on these areas, YMCAs in Canada can assure members, donors, employees and other key stakeholders that we have operational sustainability to weather the challenges ahead.

Johari WindowPaul also presented the Johari Window* (Conscious Competence Model), a  model for understanding and improving self-awareness as individuals or groups. With our strong position in history and the community, the YMCA has come to operate in the “unconscious competence” where our role and impact on the community has become “second nature”. However, as the world around us changes, the YMCA needs to be wary of reverting back to the “unconscious incompetence” where we not only lack understanding or expertise but also fail to recognize this deficiency. Without open and honest dialogue about what we are doing, both at the Federation and association level, the YMCA risks “not knowing what we don’t know”. However, be assured that YMCA Canada is working hard on our Federation’s Strategic Plan to ensure that we will not become “unconsciously incompetent”.

Therefore, Paul challenged YMCA leaders to reflect and take a leadership role. Beyond Plan Y, he asked us to define our Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG). According to Paul, reflection and learning can become institutionalized with leaders regularly asking “How are we doing?” Paul believes that the YMCA has the potential to become thought leaders in a post modern society by sharing our mission and commitment to Canada.

How can the YMCA become a thought leader in Canadian communities? What will you do to reflect?

– Laura

*Read more about the Johari Window: