People hate change. People love change.
Some people react to any change with fear and doubt – holding on to tradition with fists tight and minds closed. Some people react to change by enthusiastically adopting every new thing just because it’s new, without thought of consequence.
Both views are flawed.
Those who reject change blindly ultimately fail to adapt to the world. Like dinosaurs, their fate is to vanish into fossilized memory.
Those who accept change blindly strew havoc and destruction in their wake, not realizing that their new approach may be inferior to the tried and true.
Change is a partner, one who should be courted and examined thoughtfully before being invited to move in.
Change and BBYO
BBYO is currently facing change. You’ve heard the words:
Engagement – Updated Policies – Dashboard – B-Linked
These all represent significant changes for BBYO. Over the days to come, I will explore all of these in more depth.
But I’m going to give you a preview now.

Most of these changes are fundamentally good. Surprised? Some email comments I’ve received have suggested that I am generally critical of the direction that BBYO is taking. Nothing could be further from the truth. Oh, there are lots of implementation details that need to be addressed, but the fundamental direction that is being advocated by BBYO’s staff, adult commission, donors and youth leadership is sound.
So what’s the problem?
The Heart of the Problem
These are big changes. Communicating them effectively – selling them – throughout an organization with many different stakeholders was never going to be easy. Even so, from where I stand, if the people driving these changes were making a conscious effort to sabotage the changes and create resistance to these changes they couldn’t have done a more thorough job.
Allow me to point out a significant and telling example:
I was emailed a link earlier today of the conference call the staff and GAG held to field questions from members. I commend them for taking the time to do so, and commend the members who participated. The most important part of the conversation was not, however, in the questions or the answers. It was in the questions that were not asked.
Listen closely:
The staff commented that they had not heard anything to suggest a change was needed in policy. What you will not hear anywhere in the conference call was the staff or GAG asking the participants questions like:
“Could you clarify for us exactly why you believe this policy is going to harm your chapter?”
“What would change in your chapter if this policy was enforced?”
“How do you feel this policy should be changed and why? What could we change to minimize the impact and still maintain the same level of safety?”
Do you see what I mean?
They were explaining and defending their views, but they were NOT listening – not real listening where you make a serious effort to understand the other person’s point of view. This is what I was talking about in the post titled “Buy-in“.
The Missing ChangesÂ
The funny thing about this whole situation is that the very people who are committed to bringing positive change to BBYO are so resistant of other changes. Specifically – I kept hearing comments suggesting that the right way for members to provide feedback about policy or other issues is through their elected representatives or through elections at IC when they choose their representatives. Sorry folks, the world has changed. Technology has broken down the barriers between people and the world moves way too fast. Democratic participation can be 365 days a year, not just at occasional conventions. Leaders, even the most responsible and conscientious ones, are watched closely and held accountable – not just at election time, but all the time (ask any chapter leader, corporate executive or congressman and they’ll tell you about it). BBYO can’t afford to be a GM in a Toyota world – not if it wants to succeed.
Personally, I want to see BBYO become the most significant Jewish youth group in the world (my priority remains as stated in my very first post. Why are we here“). It has the potential to do so. It is a cause that I’m confident everyone involved with BBYO would embrace – if only, if only, they had the opportunity to be part of defining what it was they were embracing.