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System reboot: If we’d started the Society today, what would be different?

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restartHere’s something for all you snowed-in barbershoppers to chew on: How would we have structured things if 30,000 barbershop singers had somehow gotten together just today to form a singing Society? How would we be structured? What would we do that we don’t do now? What would we modify or drop that we are doing?

On balance, we’re far too critical of ourselves as barbershoppers. We’re so intimately aware of our own warts and unrealized hopes that we rarely realize that the outside world is far more impressed with us than we are. Ever heard the “Wow!” from a sharp music professional once he starts to become familiar with our educational system, our contest and judging system, our organizational structure, youth outreach, fraternal culture, etc.? (Maybe that’s a post or Harmonizer article for another time!) So I don’t want this to devolve into a gripe session of “What’s wrong with the Society,” cuz frankly we hear plenty of that already.

That said, organizations can be like computers. After you’ve had one for a while, installed this program, tweaked that, added this data, both a computer and an organization can start become sluggish. There’s really no way to avoid it, but all those necessary tweaks and changes can build up “lint” that can hamper system performance. For all the customizations you can’t live without anymore, you still wish your machine were operating the way it did when it came out of the box.

Here’s an example, based on a conversation I was having with our Education Department staff just the other day. We have so many programs to help directors, train chapter leadership, boost chapter performance that even I can’t keep track of all of them. What if all these Leadership Academies, COTS, CDWIs, chapter coaching, etc. were all under the umbrella of one of our crown jewels, Harmony University? Would that make it easier for chapters, quartets and individuals to comprehend where to get help? Would we offer an associate’s degree in chapter PR? Bachelor’s degrees in chapter leadership? Masters degrees in choral conducting?

It was all thinking out loud there, so don’t think we’re necessarily going that direction. The idea was, “We’ve got all this great information out there in programs and formats that might be a bit unwieldy. Could we be more efficient and effective if we repackaged it? Reorganized it? Delivered it at District Conventions? Offered distance learning courses? Whatever?

Anyway, what do you think we would be doing differently if we had all the accumulated knowledge, wisdom and personnel we have now, but not the organizational legacy that got us here? Would we be organized differently? Compete differently? Fraternize differently?

Inquiring minds want to know!

p.s. A future post will ask a different question: “What would we have never dropped from years past had we known the consequences?”

Fire away!

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