I’ve been thinking about words lately and finding that there are far too many that we use that either are too vague they don’t really mean anything or are so frequently used that they no longer mean anything. That doesn’t help us communicate very well!
The word most in question: “organization”
Let’s use this beautiful picture of fruit as an example. Now, we have 4 fruits pictured:
When applying the idea of the traditional understandings of the word “organization” to this bunch, we could say:
- Strawberries = the organization (staff)
- Raspberries = the contractors or consultants
- Blackberries = the volunteers
- Blueberries = the members/supporters/community
BUT, they are all berries meaning they are all focused on the same mission. Plus, they are all fruit, or sharing a similar enough vision to work congruently.
Why, then, is the “organization” considered to be one part of the whole at some times and considered as the whole at other times?
The Strawberries are important, it’s true (especially with vegan cream cheese & rice mallow, try it!) — but they aren’t the only important, integral even, part of the mix. How important would an organization be if it was only staff and a board, without anyone supporting it or anything using the services? How important would volunteers be without any organization or community to support? The point is that none of the parts would be important without the rest. So, how we start thinking about organizations as entities larger than the staff?
How do we shift the definition of “organization” to include everything that is vital to a cause?
What do you think? Is it possible? What’s necessary to make the change?