Where Plans Fail and Planning Matters

A week ago today, I took on a role I was not anticipating.

The Executive Director at the family emergency shelter and housing provider where I work left and I was asked to step in as Interim Executive Director.

It was not in my plan, but as Eisenhower is often quoted as having said (it wasn’t actually him but that’s another story), every plan is only as good as the first encounter with the enemy. Planning is essential, but plans are useless (that one is actually attributable to Eisenhower – he just said it a bit differently).

And that’s the thing about taking on such a big leadership role. While I am only taking on the role while the Board searches for a new ED, I don’t know how long that will take, and have committed to staying for as long as it takes to get the right person in place. Thus, I must plan accordingly.

Which is kind of exciting.

Because here’s the deal, several years ago I thought I’d enjoy the challenge of being an ED. At that time, as I explored opportunities I realized that my life vision and work vision weren’t aligned if I took on such a role.

When I joined this agency, I came because I wanted the last segment of my formal working career to be in a place where I was passionate about the mission, the people and the work. And I am.

I believe we can end child and family homelessness if we work together, build the necessary infrastructures and housing and stay focused on ensuring everything we do is bringing us closer to our goal.

I also believe we can’t do it ‘for’ the children and families experiencing homelessness. We must do it ‘with’ them, or as is often said by those with lived experience, “Nothing for me without me”.

To suddenly find myself in a place where I have authority and responsibility to move the bar closer to achieving our goals is exciting. Especially when I know I am surrounded by people I admire, trust and am in awe of their passion and commitment, are walking with me as we take each step on this journey.

Today, when I go into my office, I am taking with me a blank canvas to hang on the wall. The canvas represents where we are today, in a space where all things are possible and not all things are necessary.

It is the tension within that duality that excites me.

As we move forward over the next few months, the canvas will become a reflection of our hopes and dreams, desires and creations. What won’t be visible are the things we’ve chosen not to put on it. The things we determine don’t fit, don’t belong, don’t bring us closer to realizing our shared vision of ending child and family homelessness.

A week ago today I took on a new role. I believe it was the right thing to do.

Change requires stability and trust. I came to the organization to end my career on a high note. I found that opportunity. With this change in my focus, I get to play a leadership role in making a great organization even greater.

I’m excited and grateful.

Excited to take on a new challenge where I feel my contributions are making a difference to people and community.

Grateful for the Board’s trust in me and for staff’s willingness to walk with me as we explore all that we can do together to support children and families in crisis and all that we can do as a community to end child and family homelessness.


2 thoughts on “Where Plans Fail and Planning Matters

  1. Congratulations! You can do it. Step back a minute – the Board has given you the position because they believe in you. Otherwise – . Go for it. Keep an open mind and seize the moment. You will make a difference, you already have for you are looking at an clean canvas rather than work with someone’s vision, which may need tweaking.


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