There are a number of stakeholders to consider talking to when getting Ready4Change.

Talk to Leadership Staff

Stakeholders also talked about the need to engage not only leadership but staff in succession planning to accustom them to taking initiative and moving forward and to potentially develop them into the next generation of leadership.

Talk to Other Leaders

Leaders we spoke to underscored the benefits of consulting other leaders, especially those who had experienced major transitions. They can be a good source of both support and information about what worked and what didn’t, saving the organization wasted time and effort.

Talk to Funders

Many of the harm reduction funders who spoke to Ready4Change mentioned that they too were ready, and willing, to help with strategic and succession planning and were open to advising their fundees in a variety of ways. They emphasized their literal investment in the success of the organizations they funded and understood that organizations face tremendous challenges and wanted to help. This is easiest to do when an organization approaches the funder well in advance of a crisis, although funders want to be involved and support fundees during a crisis as well.
The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.

Get the Board(s) on Board

This includes: Board of Directors (BOD), Community Advisory Board (CAB), Participant Advisory Board (PAB), Worker Co-op Boards, etc.

Many, especially more experienced, stakeholders discussed the need to get the organizational boards “on-board” with succession planning, ideally spearheading the process themselves.

Culture isn’t just one aspect of the game. It is the game.
Louis V. Gerstner

Several noted that succession planning is, in many ways, the clear purview of Boards of Directors (BODs). After all, they employ the director and are technically tasked with ensuring the continuing success of the organization’s mission.

Yet, for a variety of reasons, BODs in harm reduction organizations are often insufficiently active, motivated, or may even be designed to be rubber stamp Boards, causing succession planning to fall to leadership. In those cases, leadership can work on Board development to cultivate a more active Board capable of supporting or spearheading such efforts.

Harm reduction organizations may have other reasons for having inactive or even non-existent BODs. They may have other committees or boards with the authority usually reserved for Boards of Directors in traditional non-profit organizations. Or they may be cooperatively or collectively run and have alternative decision-making organs entirely. In those cases, many of the skills and concerns needed by traditional non-profit BODs for succession planning may be useful to those other decision-making bodies.

For nothing is fixed, forever and forever and forever, it is not fixed; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. 

James Baldwin
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