Red, red, wine. . .and Rube Goldberg

Patrice announced at staff meeting this morning that there are 20 days left until Christmas. In the Volunteer Maryland world this means we are approximately 25 percent through service year 24. I know; I was pretty sure that couldn’t be true, too. One of my kids is an engineering student at Case Western Reserve University. He sent me this link last week. We were both intrigued by this ingenious product designed by Kouichi Okamoto. The device consists of a bulb shaped container with the glass below. When the amount in the glass decreases, a constant amount is poured from the tank into the glass. The wine will never overflow because of the balance between air pressure and water pressure. Balance? Pressure? How did he do that? I’d bet these same questions are running through the minds of the VMCs as well. What does it take to successfully progress through the service year maintaining balance?
I don’t have the magic answer. Based on my experience as a VMC last year I do think two key components to achieving balance are communication and practice. Most of the VMCs have had site visits with their Site Supervisor, Laura, and Joy or me. We’ve reviewed their Work Plans and the VMC and the site personnel know the outline for the service year. At each visit Laura ensures the VMC and Site Supervisor have regularly scheduled opportunities to have conversations with one another. Volunteer Maryland holds monthly trainings and Joy and I schedule regional gatherings. You may remember AT&T’s old slogan: “Reach out and touch someone.” It was one of the most successful ad campaigns to date. Communication is also an important piece of the VM service year. And, as Ma Bell recognized, communication has to start with someone “reaching out. . . “. If something is on your mind, or you are confused, share it.
In an earlier post I mentioned Malcolm Gladwell’s postulation that it takes 10,000 practices to be masterful. Last year I heard Robert Siegel talk about Ok Go’s latest musical endeavor on All Things Considered. He reported that it took dozens of teams of engineers and 60 takes to get to the final product. Effective volunteer management takes practice. And, while you are practicing, don’t hesitate to give some extra attention to the areas that could use more practice. Be willing to spill some wine. . .and break a glass or two. . .you will need more than one take!

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