Is your organization a buzz kill?

Is your organization a buzz kill to new ideas? Does your organization cry “It’s against our policies/It’s not in our policies!” when an employee member or volunteer suggests an activity – and the response isn’t because what’s proposed isn’t good idea, but because somone at the organization is afraid of… well, something?

Stephen Colbert has been trying to start a political action committee (PAC). At first, his parent company, Viacom, said it was illegal. So Colbert consulted with a lawyer and came up with a way to make creating a PAC legal. But the parent company for his show, The Colbert Report, still said no, sent Colbert a letter explaining why, and asking him not to read the letter on his show. So Colbert paraphrased the letter thusly:

We are stupid lawyers who hate fun. If you do this, we’re all scared because people might get mad at us. I think we just peed a little. So, even though we know it is totally legal and everything, and everybody wants you to do it, we’re not going to let you.

Sincerely,
Admiral John Q. Buzzshackler, Esq.

I laughed and laughed and laughed. I have gotten this message myself, not from lawyers, but from colleagues at organizations where I’ve worked or where I’ve volunteered – one fairly recently, when I made a very simple suggestion regarding a one-time social media activity to a very well-known nonprofit organization I won’t name now, but will be happy to if you buy me a beer. The emails I’ve gotten over the years, including most recently, can be paraphrased similarly:

“We are stuffy nonprofit/NGO/international development agency senior managers who hate fun and new ideas. If you do this, we’re all scared because people might get mad at us or someone somewhere may say something negative about it or we might have to work differently. Or we might have to actually work. I think we just peed a little. So, even though we know it is totally legal and that thousands and thousands of organizations are doing this successfully and it could lead to more volunteers and more support, and most everybody wants you to do it, we’re not going to let you.

Sincerely,
Secretary General John Q. Buzzkill

Happy Friday, everyone!

Tags: communications, public relations, nonprofit, NGO, not-for-profit, outreach, innovation, daring, non-traditional, innovative, corporate, culture, organizational, staff, employees, volunteers

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