Over the course of my career, I have found myself frustrated by the endless changes that occurred within the organizations in which I was working. Whether it was within my role as a Legislative Assistant for a U.S. Congressman, or as an underwriter at the National Equity Fund, or as a business owner and real estate developer. Things were constantly changing and our teams struggled to adapt to these changes. We always seemed surprised by change, even when we recognize the nature of its constancy.
Could any organization ever achieve a state of equilibrium where change was not a constant? As I progressed into management and eventually leadership roles, I became even more mystified by the constant changes and focused on how to slow things down, versus how better to prepare for change and then adapt to new situations. For a moment in time (very rarely), all key roles would be filled, and things seemed calm. And then, something would happen: a person in a critical position would resign, or a new project would be added to our portfolio, and we would need to assemble a team to manage it. Interest rates would go up. Or down. Things simply would not settle.
Archway is certainly a great example of this dynamic. Things are constantly in motion and stability of any kind feels like a chimera lingering in the distance, ever and always beyond the horizon. During the two years I have been with Archway, there hasn’t been anything close to stability. Our primary organizational objective remains to position Archway to grow its portfolio at an accelerated rate while ensuring that the quality of our work continues to improve. Undertaking the required organizational changes during the pandemic has been unlike anything I have ever experienced in terms of the rate and overall amount of change.
It seems like every week I have been sending out email introductions for new staff members. I have sometimes found myself thinking: “Didn’t I just announce a new Property Manager or Services Coordinator at this particular property?” The answer is probably, YES, I did, but things just keep changing. And this is as it should be.
Change is, of course, inevitable. I think less now about how to slow or even stop change and much more about how we, as an organization, can embrace change and use it to our advantage. Which leads me to alignment. If we are aligned as a team around who we are, what we stand for and why we are here, then responding to challenges and change will be that much easier for all involved. Our alignment around identity and purpose is the core of the organization and no matter what happens within our environment, no matter how many new communities we add to our portfolio, how many adjustments we need to make to our organizational structure or staffing, the core will hold and keep us centered, grounded, and focused on the outcomes we are trying to achieve.
While alignment, like stability, can sometimes feel elusive, I am proud to say that at this moment in time, Archway’s Board and Leadership team are well aligned around who we are as an organization and why we are here. Robb Lapp, our co-founder and Board Chair who passed away in May, made sure of that. I believe he would agree that we are professionals committed to making Archway better every day so that we can serve more individuals and families in need of safe and affordable housing and related services. While confident in our capabilities, we are also self-aware and humble enough to know we can always learn, grow and be better in service to Robb's lifelong mission towards Community Creation.
And yet, though alignment around identity and purpose is necessary for long-term success, it is not sufficient. We must have mechanisms in place that enable us to execute on our goals. Thus, we have invested heavily in technology systems to ensure we can operate efficiently and effectively. We are also investing in our most important resources, which are the people needed to make our communities successful. Knowing how challenging our work can be, we strive every day to transform into a better organization for our staff.
Are we always all aligned just as we’d like to be? Of course not. Do things always work as we expect (and hope) they will? Not even close. But as we wrangle with the many complexities of developing more affordable housing, and as we work to help meet the needs of our diverse resident population, we can draw strength from the alignment we share around who we are and why we are here. In addition to giving us greater resolve to face the challenges of our work, it will also help guide us through tumultuous and ever-changing times!
Thank you for aligning with us in support of our work.