Managing Change & Innovation

Find a way to fund this? How about doing this with young people instead? how do we do this? what do we need to do to react to this policy? How might the organisation change to attract donors? or young people?  Whats different now and where are the young people?

Familiar.  Yup. Thought so.

Change. We all need to do it at times, react to new events and situations.

To develop is to grow isnt it? To think ahead of the game? to find a way of being innovative?

Innovation and Change – the new future of youthwork, and youth Ministry – see the title of the National youth ministry weekend. 

But isnt it just hard work. to keep thinking, innovating and producing. Especially for a manager, though actually for everyone.

Maybe thats the dilemna of being a strategic thinker, combined with worrying too much, and someone that wants to do good ethical youthwork practice.

2011 – what might that year mean to you?

For me, it was the last time i was involved in a youthwork organisation, structure and practice that at the time didnt need to change.  That was the heyday of Sidewalk, at least when I was there. New partnerships created, money in the bank, students employed, young people on the streets, links with churches.

Since then, and for every year since, almost every month since, The pressure of strategic change has been part of my daily, monthly youthwork existence. Whether trying to force it from a practitioner point of view (and fail), whether being unable to realise it or challenge management to see it, and be relatively unsupported in this. Or now being a centre director and having to continually strategically think, innovate and make plans to ensure the ongoing work of an organisation that sits in the gaps, doing community based youthwork, in schools and centres and detached, with a Faith perspective, with an evangelical identity of YFC, and keep people employed and great, long term professionally qualified youthworkers in employment.  Its somewhat of a navigational headache, where change and challenge are inevitable, and a continuing reality.

Sometimes its not that the change that is the tiring, its developing ideas and then not having resources to see them through, or even countering them with doubt of whether they’ll work, or ethically thinking that the idea might be good for funding, but would it actually work with young people, or staff, or be what the organisation is meant to be about. And if it is just for funding – what is going on there..?

The pressure to innovate, is a statement that change is inevitable. Yet – does change and innovation benefit young people?

innovation inyw

This was a free resource from the recent IDYW conference last year. What was surprising was that youthworkers in Christian faith based sector, such as FYT, and others especially in Scotland ie Hot Chocolate project, have had to innovate given the gaps in the margins and between parameters of funding that they have had to move into. Innovative ideas are all around the country, and those who possibly haven’t had statutory funding for longer have trailblazed the innovation.

The Paradox might be that whilst the organisation, and us as practitioners might need to innovate, and adapt to external pressures – notably government policy, to keep organisations going, The result is that young people do not benefit from long term sustained, regular work, that we all know is where the greater benefits lie. Especially in ‘innovative’ work like mentoring, or detached or issue based – community work.

But on a personal reflection, maybe I am better at developing and working out the strategy, than managing the change that the strategy might have to entail, I find it far easier to strategise for others (maybe we all do). Or even, making and developing strategies for aspects of work, but actually fulfilling them is almost an impossibility – given the unpredictable and reactionary nature of people based work.

Its felt like its been a long time since anything stood still.



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