Steven Crandell begins his article by this name, which was published on Huffington Post Sep 30, 2010, by telling us: “Good models have good bone structure. Good nonprofits have good board structure.” What’s this have to do with alchemy? As it turns out, the Annenberg Foundation has a program for improving the structure of nonprofits called Alchemy.
As a nonprofit board member, I wondered which alchemy laboratory practices Annenberg uses as part of their program. As it turns out, the Alchemy program focuses on inspiration which is a vital part of any change effort. Their definition of alchemy captures some of the spirit of Art: “Alchemy refers to the practice of turning something ordinary into something extraordinary.” And a logo for the program is intriguing:
But there is nothing in their Alchemy site that speaks about alchemical practices. Is that something to be criticized? I think not. In fact, I know there are laboratory practices that can be converted forms useful to many people working for transformation in organizations. I’ve applied them successfully in the past. And, I am excited that a major Foundation like Annenberg – $1.6 billion in assets – senses that there is something about alchemy that is a key to organizational change.
The questions we need to ask are: Why did this foundation select the concept of alchemy as they understand it to present their program? How many other organizations are doing similar things with “alchemy?” Is this an indication that many people already sense that alchemy has an essential role in our time?
What do you think?