Great Stories, Leadership

Growing What?

What does growth mean in your organization? In most it is about increasing budget, programs, staff, or facilities. All of these are good and at times appropriate, but there is another growth strategy that is often overlooked: Growth in Influence Nearly twenty years ago I spent 53 weeks at a fairly small camp in Central Ontario for a leadership development program. At that time Medeba was a leading practitioner of adventure learning and experiential education, topics which continue to be of great interest to me. The year there is one of the most formative experiences in me discovering my strengths and weaknesses, and set me on the path of pursuing the understanding of leadership that is the focus of what I do with Catalyst. In the years since, I’ve continued to associate with Medeba and now my children are campers in their summer programs. A lot has changed, nearly every building has been updated and there are many new activities. The internship program I participated in has a new name, Prosago, and a refined strategy for developing young leaders. While many summer camps are barely holding on financially, Medeba has been able to maintain sustainability and even pursue significant capital projects to support their vision of helping young people say “yes” to God. Still, the camp is essentially the same size as it was when I was there, and for many years before that. Instead of trying to grow to welcome more campers, they’ve determined that they can have greater impact by growing their influence on other camps. Where most might see competition, the leadership of Medeba see partners in a greater cause. With this in mind Medeba has become very active in local, provincial, national, and international camping networks; using staff time to add value to these associations. They have made many of the top notch resources they’ve developed available to others at little or no cost, and speak at training events across Canada and around the world. Executive Director Bruce Dunning’s book God of Adventure is being used as a textbook in colleges as well as a resource for experiential educators in many places. It takes uncommon perspective and humility to decide to grow influence across an industry instead of growing your own organization. Medeba is not the only example doing this, but they are one worthy of both appreciation and imitation. What are you doing to grow your influence beyond your organization?