While this tradition can be of tremendous value, it also can be fraught with danger. The needs, interests and expectations of children and parents change. New technology challenges the way we've always done things. The competitive marketplace and regulatory environment place new demands on us. Our facilities age and become dated. Unfortunately, it is easy for us to cling to the past in the name of tradition only to find ourselves left behind and irrelevant in a changing world.
The reality is that at some point, we as camp directors will need to lead significant change efforts. It may be a proactive choice we make to respond to and try to stay ahead of the changing environment. It might also be the result of being forced to react to a negative trend such as declining attendance. A crisis such as the failure of some component of your facility's infrastructure might also create the need. Regardless of how it comes about, while we lead organizations of great history and tradition, we also need to be prepared to be leaders of change.
In his three classic books on change (Leading Change, The Heart of Change and Our Iceberg is Melting) Harvard Business School professor John Kotter provides a blueprint that might serve as a starting point as we begin to think about leading change. Kotter outlines an eight stage process for creating change in organizations that certainly seems to fit the camp environment. His process includes the following stages:
- Creating a sense of urgency
- Creating a guiding coalition
- Developing a vision and strategy
- Communicating the change vision
- Empowering broad-based action
- Generating short-term wins
- Consolidating gains and producing more change
- Anchoring new approaches in the culture