Deliberate Fire. Organizational Transformation in Onondaga [PDF]

An Account of Organizational Transformation in Onondaga Community Living Syracuse, New York

John O’Brien

April. 1995

This report’s title, Deliberate–Fire, came up as the visitors talked about the challenges arising from OCL’s succeeding more rapidly than its leaders had planned. OCL has created effective individualized supports for people by carefully considering opportunities to realize its values for one person at a time. This deliberate process has generated growing commitment to a new mission, new capacities, new skills, and new expectations. Like fire, this commitment changes what it touches irreversibly, and in ways that are difficult and a bit dangerous to control. OCL’s methodical demonstration of its ability to act on what its staff hear from the people they assist has fired the imagination of more and more of the people and families OCL serves. They see other people living with individual support and they want similar changes for themselves. Reasonable demands, that accelerate faster than the agency’s capacity to deal with them, call for a new kind of learning: learning how to more rapidly invest agency resources in its best practices. If deliberateness dampens the fire sparked by board and staff commitment to OCL’s mission, the agency’s spirit is at risk. If fire consumes the agencies ability to take thoughtful steps, OCL’s capacity to act for people is impaired. The next chapter in OCL’s development will be strongly influenced by its leaders’ ability to handle deliberate–fire.