The three mental “Big Rocks” you will have to move
One of the proudest moments in my life occurred last Friday when we broke ground on site of the new Atlanta Community Food Bank’s home. The new facility is more than double the size of our current facility. It is the result of a bold goal we set as a leadership team and board almost three years ago to eliminate hunger in Atlanta and its surrounding communities by 2025.
At the groundbreaking ceremony, I reflected on the mental “Big Rocks” we had to move before moving the physical ones. They are the same rocks that individuals and organizations have to move regardless of what profession or industry they are in. Specifically, to set and achieve bold goals, you have to change your answer to the following three questions:
What is acceptable?
What is achievable?
Who is accountable?
What is acceptable? Moving the first mental big rock of what is acceptable is always the toughest one, especially in our situation. We were meeting all of our goals in the existing facility: productivity was high; inventory turns were high; we were providing 60 million meals a year; and the cost per meal was low. The leadership team was doing a great job maximizing capacity and being resourceful. However, we took a step up and took a wider look at the situation. Rather than looking just at the meals we were providing in the community, we looked at the number of meals that were needed. The gap was large: one in five kids were going to school hungry and one in nine seniors were going to bed hungry. These numbers were unacceptable to us. We went from feeling good about what we were doing to having a sense of urgency to do much more.
What is achievable? Once we changed what was acceptable, we then focused on what was achievable. Another 70 million meals were needed above the 60 million we were providing. I will always remember when we said that we just don’t want to narrow the gap--we want to eliminate it. We then set the year of 2025 to achieve it. Doing so required that we build a much larger facility and raise $51.4 million dollars. It was by far the largest capital campaign the Atlanta Community Food Bank had ever undertaken. We now had our “North Star” in terms of our objective, key metrics, and timing.
Who is accountable? With an understanding of what is acceptable and achievable, we moved to the last question. Answering the question of accountability was the easiest one of all. Kyle Waide, our CEO, was masterful in involving and engaging the leadership team and the board throughout the planning process. We had visited other food banks that had significantly expanded, met with their leadership team, and learned from their experience. Without exception, all members of the board and leadership team held themselves personally accountable to achieving our bold goal. For example, every board member personally gave to the capital campaign. Because of that personal commitment, we quickly addressed challenges that arose and raised $40 million dollars in less than a year and are well on our way to achieving our goals of meals provided, dollars raised, and facilities built.
In closing, setting and achieving bold goals requires that you change what’s acceptable, what’s achievable, and who is accountable. I want to acknowledge our founder, Bill Boiling, for instilling the spirit of community and bold thinking into the Food Bank’s culture. I also want to thank Kyle Waide for not resting on our success but taking it to a higher level.
The following pictures are from the ground breaking. The first one is of me and Kyle breaking ground; the second is of our new facility; and the third is of me with Ricky Steele, a great friend of mine who played a key role with Bill in founding the Food Bank. Ricky has organized a monthly “Technology Cares/Technology Shares” event where Atlanta technology leaders volunteer at the Food Bank. Feel free to join us next Wednesday, February 6, from 6-8:30pm. If you can’t make it in person, please go to the Atlanta Community Food Bank’s website and make a financial donation. No amount is too small. https://acfb.org/