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That first day back to the office after some time away can be a challenge to get caught up on everything.  Throw in a sick kiddo as you’re trying to get back in the groove, and it can further delay getting up and running.


I’m reminded of an analogy Jim Collins uses in his book “Good to Great”.  I’ll quote him here and there rather than do a disservice with paraphrasing.


“Picture a huge, heavy flywheel – a massive metal disk mounted horizontally on an axle, about 30 feet in diameter, 2 feet thick, and weighing about 5,000 pounds.  Now imaging that your task is to get the flywheel rotating on the axle as fast and as long as possible.


Pushing with great effort, you get the flywheel to inch forward, moving almost imperceptibly at first.  You keep pushing and, after two or three hours of persistent effort, you get the flywheel to complete one entire turn.”


Our original flywheel, workplace campaigns, operated efficiently and at a high velocity for decades, raising millions of dollars per year.  That flywheel is still moving, but some of the gears have worn.  Some may be a bit rusty.  Others are missing altogether.  It still works reasonably well, particularly with a large number of our local companies.  But it’s no longer reaching the previous top speeds or results.


We have a new flywheel to turn.  We have to learn to connect with donors outside of the workplace, using new(ish) tools (social media), and share our story in an inspiring way on what we do, why it matters, and why it’s important to prospective donors and the community (and each of you!).


Collins goes on to say:

“Then at some point – breakthrough!”  Followed a few paragraphs later with “Now suppose someone came along and asked ‘What was the one big push that caused this thing to go so fast?’  You wouldn’t be able to answer; it’s just a nonsensical question.  Was it the first push?  The second?  The fifth?  The hundredth?  No!  It was all of them added together in an overall accumulation of effort applied in a consistent direction.


The good-to-great companies understood a simple truth: tremendous power exists in the fact of continued improvement.”


It can be frustrating for some who remember how shiny and fast the old flywheel used to go.  Recent media coverage, for example, wants to point to the other flywheel and attempt to draw comparisons or create distractions.  Our executive leadership team, which includes our Executive Committee and myself are confident that our efforts need to shift some resources (and effort!) to this new flywheel.


It will take some time to get this new flywheel moving as fast as the old one did.  We’re starting to get our new flywheel moving, though.  It’s slow, and sometimes imperceptible progress.  It’s there, though.  We see it in the social media engagement.  We see it with the increase in donors and money coming from individuals in the workplace contributing money, but not through a traditional United Way workplace campaign.  I’m confident that given time, we’ll get this flywheel going at a high velocity, too.


How can you help make this flywheel go faster?  Visit to connect with us and our work!