Getting Trustees to change!

Graham Gardiner
Written by Graham Gardiner
- 1 min read

I'm CEO of a charity based in Lambeth, London. It's a traditional hierarchical organisation.

We are restructuring to revolve teams of frontline workers into neighbourhoods, and getting workers from our current services to work together differently. The longer term goal is to create a network of self managed teams. We're taking our time so that teams can start the conversations about self management. So far so good!

The challenge is my board, and my trustees. They haven't got the idea that they also need to consider whether their current ways of working are appropriate for either 2020 or indeed to serve our beneficiaries.

Has anyone done any of this kind of change work before? What kind of shape etc did you end up with?

Almost by definition, trustees are reluctant to change their modus operandi, with the statement, What would the Charity Commissioners say, ringing in their ears!

Any clues, anyone?



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Replies (2)



Amazing to hear your ambition to change the organisation, Graham!

One of the toughest challenges is getting the board on board – it's a problem I've heard a lot. When we changed Reddico's culture to one of self-management, the directors were initially the ones wanting to see change (so my job was much easier).

I think you need to start with the question:
- What problems am I trying to fix?
- What solutions solve these problems?

Present this, and then work out what comes first in that journey.

You don't have to do everything overnight. We broke it down into six core elements and rolled it out overtime, so there was momentum in change, but it wasn't rushed. That might be crucial for getting the board's buy-in, as you can see positive change and feedback throughout.

You've probably looked into it, but Buurtzorg are a company to look at.

In terms of modelling / shape, once we rolled out the initial changes we've been leaning towards a Sociocratic / Teal hybrid, taking most of the principles from the latter (but retaining a core org shape for now with the former - though that will change).

Happy to chat anytime, and good luck with everything!

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lorraine gillies

lorraine gillies


I was faced with exactly that problem when the organisation I run took over Neighbourhood Watch Scotland. The board were almost exclusively older, white men and most them were ex-cops. I wanted to change the whole organisation so that it took a more communty development approach and to lose some of the negative (curtain twitching) image. The culture in both organisations is so different. The staff team at NWS are all white, male ex cops and struggled to understand my way of working. eg - 'If we dont keep timesheets, how will you know we are working!' - response to my bonfire of the processes......
Its almost a year since I took them over - we have a completely new board, a new chair, staff team are coming round.. It's been tough but we are getting there. Happy to chat -

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