My Brother Knights,
The Washington State Council was blessed by having Executive Director John and Tess Walker managing our State Council operations for a number of years. Those of us who served in various positions as State Chairmen, State Officers and in other capacities were privileged to have worked with John. However, many of us allowed ourselves to be lulled into complacency while John served as Executive Director, forgetting the admonition when we became members of the Knights of Columbus, “Tempus Fugit, Momento Mori.” Time does fly and we need to prepare for changes that will occur when we pass from this life by developing transition plans so that our passing has minimal effects on others.
We understand that the Knights of Columbus is a top rated and well managed insurance company and that our State and local Councils are fraternal organizations under the umbrella of the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus. We should put the same effort into managing our State and local Councils as the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus puts into managing the insurance and financial programs that provide protection for our families.
We can assure the future effectiveness and success of our State and local Councils by looking to the future and objectively planning while allowing for flexibility when future unexpected events like the sudden Covid-19 pandemic occur. Establishing clearly identified objectives is the first step in developing a plan for success. Once we agree on the objectives we can begin to develop and evaluate various paths towards accomplishing the objectives. Communication with State Council and local Council members is essential throughout this process while developing a consensus on the “best” path forward realizing that the most efficient path may not always be the “best” path forward if there are contentious issues. While unilateral, authoritative decisions and plans may work in the short term, unless there is a consensus, those kinds of decisions and plans frequently fail over time.
Once a plan for attaining a State or local Council’s objectives is in place, there needs to be a plan for transition in leadership. Knights of Columbus Councils often walk their elected Officers through the various positions in order to prepare those individuals for future leadership positions. However, the same is frequently not true for Directors and Committee Chairmen even though these positions are essential for Council success. Every Council Officer, Director and Committee Chairman should have an identified successor, who is being prepared to step in when the incumbent is no longer available to serve or when the incumbent moves into another position.
A number of factors can short-circuit successful implementation of a State or local Council’s plan for success. Too rapid implementation of new technologies without considering the overall impact on operations is one concern. While we may become enamored and even dazzled by technological developments, we need to understand the technology before trying to implement change based on new developments. We need to closely evaluate the impact of a technological change on the entire plan for operations. Changes inspired by new technologies may make one aspect an operating plan more efficient; however, that same change may have downstream effects on other aspects of the plan that cause an overall decrease in the efficiency of Council operations. Other more local factors may adversely affect operations; for example, cultural differences, changes in community demographics, etc. may be inconsistent with initial assumptions when operating plans were initially developed. State and local Councils need to be prepared to make well thought-out changes to plans that will overcome adversities.
Dr Scott Hulse