Monday, November 22, 2010

Setting The Bar

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

Two guys walk into a bar.

You’d think the second guy would have ducked after seeing the first one do it.

Now, if whoever put the bar up in the first place put it up high enough that no one would bump into it, there would be no need for me to torture you with that terrible joke. But, they didn’t set the bar high enough.

Unfortunately, I’ve been seeing a lot of that lately in my field – the bar not being set high enough. The regulations surrounding how we fund and deliver services in our State are designed to meet the lowest common denominator, and tend to be one-size-fits-all in a field where every individual served has unique needs.

I understand the reality of the situation – a regulatory agency needs to use the lowest common denominator when making the rules. They don’t have a choice.

Those of us in the field providing the services, however, don’t have to accept that the lowest expectations are all we need to meet. No, I believe we need to shoot much higher

I also believe that aiming our sights higher has always been a driving force at Imagine! – the idea that we can do better, that we don’t have to accept the status quo, and that we don’t need to allow others to set the bar for us. These ideas serve as the motivating forces for everything we do. Our commitment to excellence is something that has been recognized by other organizations locally, nationally, and even internationally. It makes me proud to say I work for Imagine!.

However, we must be ever vigilant against becoming complacent and accepting that meeting the standards set by the State is all we need to do to be “successful.” In an era of ever decreasing resources available to provide services, coupled with a steadily increasing demand for those services, it would be easy to capitulate and accept the lowered bar of expectations.

One of my goals as CEO of this great organization is to not let that happen. I want the bar set high for all of our constituents – our employees, our families, our funders, our providers, and most of all, the individuals we serve. I don’t want it to ever become accepted that doing the least is enough.

Yes, we are facing challenging times. That’s not an excuse to lower the bar, however, and I have no intention of doing so.

I usually end my blog posts with the phrase, “Then again, what do I know?” But of this I am certain - as we move toward the close of another year, we at Imagine! can’t, and won’t, allow external forces to cause us to lose our focus on achieving greatness. I urge everyone associated with Imagine! to join me in that commitment.

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