Self Improvement

Planned Obsolescence

It's the kind of thing you hate about the technology in your new phone, but the trait you need to cultivate for yourself as a board or committee member. You need to render your presence obsolete, unnecessary to the success of the organization.

Walk with me. Talk with me.

Planning for your eventual obsolescence—your exit from said committee or board—is the best way to leave things better than you found them. And paradoxically, to leave a lasting impression. The key here is LASTING. I mean lasting success that results from the cool ass systems you put into place. Not an impression as in, "Man, Monica really left us high and dry. She was the only one who knew how to pull that newsletter together."

They won't remember how great it was when you were there. They'll be too busy trying to figure out how to fill the gaping hole you left in their communication plan or whatever niche you filled when you were in service to them.

Anon, some suggestions for leaving them with love:

Don't Just Do It. Nike be damned, y'all. Make sure you're not pulling some martyr weirdness and taking on responsibilities or tasks that need a longer shelf life than your brief tenure. Delegate and at least make sure everyone knows what's going on.

Great Expectations. If you are performing critical tasks, build that expectation into the role and train your successor. Make it clear what's expected as a committee chair (or whatever) and ensure the incumbent is prepared to tackle everything with ease.

Write It Down. If you've developed an annual communication plan over the course of your service, get it in writing and leave it with the executive director to share with the next person. If there are relationships you think it's beneficial for the person in your position to have (designers, other organizational contacts), put that down too so the board recruiting committee knows what kind of things to look for when scouting new board members.

Smell Ya Later. Don't fall off the face of the earth. Be available to chat with your successor, take them for coffee or lunch and let them know you're happy to answer questions and share tips.

What other things can people do to leave boards and committees even stronger when they make their exits? Comments, comments ... Share them on the M&C Facebook page and on Twitter.

Count on the Classics!


Each week at our Rotary Club meeting one member has the opportunity to share a brief “inspirational moment.”

One recent Friday, a fellow-member reminded us of some tried-and-true advice Dale Carnegie offered in his 1937 classic, “How to Win Friends & Influence People.”

I don’t know that this book is included in the standard fundraising curriculum, but it should be. Consider, for example, how applicable to donor development his suggestions of “Six Ways to Make People Like You.”
  1. Become genuinely interested in other people.
  2. Smile.
  3. Remember that a person's name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
  5. Talk in terms of the other person's interest.
  6. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.
Good advice 75 years ago. And still every bit as valid today!