Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Change in Direction

I've rewritten this post at least a dozen times.  Each time I write it, I try to explain things based on our history, the economy, our drawn out construction timeline, and the learning curve attached to running a condo association. The result was an article that would put the average reader to sleep after the first three paragraphs.  So rather than to dwell on the past in this and upcoming blogs, I'll spend a little time there and try to explain why things are going to be changing, where we are, where I see us going, and how we can get there.

If I were to characterize the nature of the changes I would like to see at Sherwood, it would be systemic change.  We have lacked a systems approach to management and functioning as a community.  Interestingly, as a teacher and trainer for 35 years, I was trained in systems thinking and trained hundreds of administrators to use Peter Senge's approach in education administration, but never actually had the opportunity to practice what I taught until now.

In 1990, Peter Senge changed the face of business and learning in this country with the publishing of The 5th Discipline.  If you are interested, you can read this short summary.  If that interests you, the book, which is just a valid today as it was in the 90's, can be read in this PDF.

Up to this point, the Sherwood Glen Board, and particularly the President, was very hands on. The economy, our size, the drawn out construction timelines, and the inexperience and learning curve of boards were just a few of the factors. It is the details of these factors that I will leave out in hopes that you stay awake through the rest of this post.  Suffice it to say, we had owners, contractors, vendors, management, and board.  All were compartmentalized and fragmented without really realizing it.

The volunteer board was often forced into the role of a paid property manager.  Rather than focusing on the big picture of long range planning, budgeting, and putting association wide systems in place, the boards were dealing with individual home owner issues that should have  been the purview of the property manager.  This took a serious toll on board members, and is the first thing that will change.

For a better understanding of the differences between the duties of board members and the management company visit this page.  

Great North will now be the first point of contact for all individual owner issues.  The board will continue to communicate closely with the property manager, but the responsibility for handling the issue from initiation to completion will be in the hands of Great North. 

When you have an issue, rather than sending a message to me or another board member, contact Great North.  I know there will be gray areas and issues you may want the board to be aware of.  In these cases, feel free to cc. me or a board member on the email to Great North.  That will serve as an FYI to us, create a paper trail, make sure everyone is on the same page, and allow us to step in or give advice to the property manager if we feel it is appropriate.  The fact is that the management company will be communicating regularly with the president and the overall result should be IMPROVED communications, which will allow the board to focus on the big picture, while allowing the management firm to do the job for which they are trained and being paid.