Intuitively you know your organization is trying to do too much, yet it seems like every force of nature keeps you from cutting back on your number of products, programs and services. It is easy to ask “why do we have so many offerings or benefits,” but very difficult to make a focused change. For instance, view the York County Regional Chamber website, full of member benefits. I had to point out one organization to make my point, but this list of benefits is more common than not.
Look no further than the city of Boston to get a sense of what you up against. Have you ever wondered if they knew the concept of “city planning?” Have you wondered who designed their roads? The answer is very insightful. Years and years ago, early city developers and city officials paved over cow paths to create many of the roads that still make up the streets of Boston. I’m sure you could do some research in your organization and find interesting answers to “why did we start this offering?”
Sometimes, the answer to these challenges can be found in nature. Taking a hard look at programs and services can be equated to pruning. Spend 3 minutes reading the Wikipedia.org entry for pruning and you can begin to understand why this exercise is so important. Remember Pareto’s 80/20 rule. I believe you will find that new benefits have been added because new leadership or staff have wanted to “make their mark.” I’m sure you’ll also agree with the observation that a board has never seen a program or service that it didn’t like.
If you want to make a significant improvement in your organization, build a case for “pruning” your programs and services. Because of the recession, you’ve never had a better time!