Author: Cornish, Rick

Funny what a little self-loathing can do
It would just be sheer common sense for an organization such as the CBA, one that?s activity-based, one that has a legion of different volunteers doing different things at different times, to construct a ?master calendar? with reminders to do all of the things that need being done. Of course it would, and that?s why over the past ten years that I?ve been blessed and privileged to serve on the Association?s leadership team someone??some one, specific, particular person??has made the commitment to create a master calendar. When I first got elected to the board, it was what?s-his-name who stood up at a board meeting, made a breathtakingly compelling case for such a calendar and then volunteered to make it. I remember we all clapped.

About two years later, with no master calendar in sight, and not wanting to put old what?s-his-name on the spot, our chairman Carl Pagter, delicately brought up the subject again as though it were the first we?d discussed it and appointed one of our most
dependable and esteemed officers, good old so-and-so. So-and-so accepted the assignment graciously and for two or three months sent out a flurry of e-mails asking folks for dates and tasks and deadlines and procedures. But alas, a few months after that, so-and-so took a job in another state.

I seem to recall it was just around the time Carl had left the board and I was selected to replace him as chairman that we missed a colossally important deadline that nearly cost us some money?something to do with ASCAP I think. Enough was enough! I announced at a board meeting that I would begin work immediately on the California Bluegrass Association Master Calendar. Two people volunteered to help me, whaddah-ya-call-her and what?s-his-face. With the sting of the ASCAP fiasco still smarting, I dove into my work. I selected FilemakerPro as the software to use for the calendar, set up a template, met with technical staff to ensure the calendar could be web-based and interactive, got major categories of tasks and deadlines identified and plugged in, sent out emails to various coordinators and officers soliciting information for the calendar, and then, lost interest. Or maybe it was that I ran out of free time. Could have been when I got really sick. Was in a car accident? Got a new puppy?

Two years later a new board member was inducted into our ranks and after attending ours first meeting she told me privately she was appalled that an organization as large as our would operate without a detailed description of key tasks and when each needed to be completed. You mean, I asked, a ?master calendar?? Exactly, a master calendar. And dear what?s-her-name solemnly vowed not to sleep until such a document was written and presented to the board of directors for ratification. This time, I thought, we?re going to get our calendar. This woman has got the brains, the tenacity, the organizational skills and the drive to make sure we get our calendar.

And she probably would have had she only had the time. But she didn?t?.so we didn?t get our calendar.

Now, before I get to the happy ending of this little tale, and there is a happy ending, more or less, let me take a little detour to dissuade the reader from thinking that we ?powers that be? are a bunch of big-talking, lazy, uncommitted and irresponsible back-sliders. We?re not. (Okay, at least the others aren?t.) Here?s the deal plain and simple: creating a master calendar for this organization is just very, very complicated?.and that means time consuming. I know it doesn?t seem like it would be, and believe me, nobody, least of all me, thought it would be hard when they volunteered. It?s just that, once you get started, once you really get into it, you begin to realize that there are a bazillion different tasks and, in one way or another, they?re pretty much all related to one another in some way. It?s sort of like trying to unravel a sixty-mile long tangle of yarn. And you begin trying to describe these tasks. Some of them are huge, some are so tiny you begin to wonder if they deserve being on the master calendar at all (but alas, if you don?t put them on, will someone remember to do them?) Some take ten steps, others only one. Or is there only one step for that task. When you describe picking a printer for a poster do you write down, ?pick a printer? or do you write down ?brainstorm with board to develop printing specs?, compile a list of printers to send an RFP?, ?send out RFP with specs?, develop criteria for selecting the best printer?, etc., etc., etc. Okay, I admit, it?s not rocket science, but it can be mind numbing.

So now for the good news. After generating a sufficient volume of self-loathing, shame and dread about missing another deadline, I finally did take the time to create a first cut at a Master CBA Calendar. It?s rough, doesn?t include nearly as many items as it needs to and the dates are mostly just place holders for now. But we DO have a calendar now. To have a look at what we?re talking about, click here. But what ever you do, don?t place any stock in actual dates and deadlines. Lots more work has to be done with the calendar. But at least it gives you an idea of what goes into trying to run a half-million dollar a year non-profit. Finally, let?s all say a resounding thanks to Bruce Campbell who stepped up and volunteered to finalize the Master Calendar and keep it current. We?ll have to remember to put an item on the calendar to remind us to thank him once each year?.maybe twice.
Posted:  11/15/2008

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