I’d like to tell you I entered the Army solely out of patriotism. The truth is, my father strongly suggested it because he thought I was lazy and undisciplined. As it turned out, it was an excellent experience and a strong sense of patriotism eventually followed. I often wondered if I would have developed a similar sense of responsibility without the rather abrupt culture change introduced by my basic training drill sergeant and nine years in the Army. In retrospect, I think my military service accelerated changes that would have occurred regardless as I matured. Then again, compared to my father, I’m still lazy and undisciplined.
This past week, ABC’s board of directors met for its annual “strategic thinking” retreat. One of the major issues we tackled was generational differences and how to position ABC’s services accordingly. We had a facilitator who specializes in challenges related to generational differences and evolving an organization’s services to resonate with generations X and Y. In reviewing responses from pre-meeting surveys conducted among both generational groups, it became clear that broadly grouping individuals into generational “buckets” is risky, as there were distinct differences within those 15-year classifications. Overall, the experience highlighted the importance of understanding our audience, encouraging long-term engagement, and cultivating opportunities for leadership in our field. Personally, I reflected on how different I was when I was in the same age groupings now labeled X and Y, and how I was likely perceived by senior leaders in blood banking. Sobering no doubt!
Without getting too philosophical on this issue (perhaps too late), I believe our opportunity for establishing and maintaining effective connections with all age groups is to ensure open and continuous dialogue. People are not static, nor are they easily “clumped.” What resonates with some will undoubtedly fail to impress others, and what motivates someone today may not drive them tomorrow. Recognizing this, the ABC staff has undertaken a rigorous and ongoing review of its offerings to discern what members want and how best to deliver it. The ABC staff also understands the importance of tailoring offerings to match the evolving membership needs of different age groups. While this approach means offering new opportunities, it also means discontinuing support of others. Ultimately, the ABC staff is committed to delivering value for you, the members.
In the end, I probably know less than I thought I knew. But I also firmly believe gaining different perspectives from people of similar core values produces a powerful mix of ideas to deal with our challenges. Based on that, I am extremely optimistic about the future!
Dave Green, Board President; DGreen@bloodsystems.org