A Question of Volume

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Ruth McCambridge

I want to ask you a question about your work.

Over the past few weeks I have been wandering around the country talking to people running nonprofits and what I have been hearing is a lot of exhaustion mixed with a bunch of indomitable hope—and a healthy measure of new ideas and schemes. Everyone seems to be thinking about new ways to do the work that needs to be done, even while, in some cases, working with the detritus of the past.

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For instance, in all of this I ran across two health centers of very different sizes and locations that are struggling to poise themselves well in a very new funding and policy environment for serving their increasingly unemployed and uninsured patient bases while dealing, in each case, with a legacy of a few bad decisions. The workload, therefore, is many times multiplied.

The word “volume” comes to mind. The great amount of volume is not necessarily related to bad decisions—just to an increasingly complex environment.

The sheer volume of our work seems, for many organizations, to be increasing. I am curious. Is this your experience? How are you managing that?

I’d love to hear from you—even if all is smooth sailing at your shop. Is there any change in your work life? Why? What are you doing to manage it.