The group had been through years of budgets cuts and reorganizations, and they were tired of the continued change and uncertainty. Now, at the annual conference, a newly appointed leader addressed them.
She acknowledged all they had been through, and the reality of the financial challenges. She made it clear how much she understood and valued their work. She said she wasn’t interested in more reorganizations.
Instead, she asked the people to make a change themselves.
What she had observed in her short tenure was that the people who knew about their work thought it was excellent. But those who weren’t aware of it thought the organization was broken somehow.
The key, she told the audience, was that they needed to be more visible. They needed to share their work - “what you’re doing and why it matters” - so that more people would be aware. Doing so would also give their supporters a chance to make their support visible. That was the best way to take control of the situation they were in.
She recognized this might feel new or even uncomfortable for some people. But without being more visible, the only other option was to be a victim of more changes and more cuts.
“Meet them where they are,” she told them, describing her early efforts using Twitter. She didn’t start because she loved it or because it came naturally. She did it because she wanted to engage people there and spread news of the good work that might be useful to them.
As she finished her talk, she made it clear that “victim or visible” was a choice they had to make.
The next presentation was on Working Out Loud, and I tried to make that choice even easier, to help the audience take a step.