Friday, March 20, 2009

Folding Tables Should Be The Table of Choice!

I was sitting in my car today and listening to Bloomberg News talk about the AIG mess, the $10 million dollar office upgrade and the CNBC statement that executives making under $250K cannot run a Wall Street firm. It is easy to see the populist sentiment that would erupt from this and I am working hard at staying away from AM talk dial to avoid my blood pressure from rising.
The one statement I thought it was interesting in all the "hub-bub" was some animated pundit in support of the business office upgrade stated, "What are they supposed to do, sit at folding tables?!!!!". This immediately made me think of all the clients I have or the site visits I have done where the table of choice for the organization is a folding table. Let's call these organizations, "Folding Table" organizations.
I think corporate groups like AIG and others could really learn a great deal from "Folding Table Organizations, (FTO's if we need another acronymm). FTO's could impart the following:
  • FTO's really make a dollar out of 15 cents. These groups, in many instances, have helped stave off and improve conditions in our most distressed communities. I think corporate CFO's should shadow FTO financial people for a day. I am sure they would learn a great deal about how to use resources.
  • FTO's are often the best are forming real win-win partnerships on a shoe string. For all we hear from foundations on how CBOs should partner more effectively, which is a goal that should always be perfected, follow a participant from a social service agency for a day. See how one participant will receive ESL classes one hour from one organization, a job counseling session from another organization the next hour and a physical check-up by a health clinic in hour three. This is through great partnerships and is often brushed off or not talked of.
  • FTO's could teach corporate america on a variety of subjects including diversity, organizational loyalty and non-financial reward best practices. Spend a day observing an FTO from a human resource perspective and you will quickly realize that the level in which groups are able to acheive in motivating their employees, many long-serving and from many different areas, to reach their difficult missions.

Now I am not suggesting that FTOs do not have their troubles, as they do and they are often immense. But, I do think that the often loud notion that FTO's should feel lucky to be in the presence of corporate america is flawed. It should be a reversed belief as I think the AIGs of the world could certainly learn from FTOs.

1 comment:

Kate Krontiris said...

I like the thrust of this article, John. Another thing to learn from FTO's (best acronym ever, by the way) is the way that they get business done -- often in very innovative ways -- with intense government oversight.

If the wayward insurance agencies and hedge funds had to deal with even a third of the government oversight that nonprofits encounter as a regular part of receiving government funding, I'm not sure we would be in this mess.

I question the idea that greater government supervision of the free market will necessarily stifle innovation and development. I think there is a happy medium to be found.