Exiting, moving on and withdrawal

Posted on november 26, 2012

  Exiting is the active form of making an exit and in my current work focus on developing a guide on exiting, moving on and withdrawal, I am increasingly realizing the value of using the verb exiting. Is is becoming obvious that use of the word Exit is common. Use of the exiting is frequently abridged to: ‘ you mean exit!’

Apparently there is an appeal in the definite, from accounts and interviews conducted it is obvious that this is not an easy process and fraught with pitfalls. For organisations that are involved in a spend out or spend down scenario, the word exit is when they actually close the books. Spend downs or spend outs are charitable organisations that decide to spend all their resources within a given time period. This is a special scenario and it is fascinating to see that there are several well documented cases around that illustrate the dynamics, choices and apparent outcomes of adopting exit as the organisational purpose. Achieving clarity in this process requires a specific type of organisational leadership.

Moving on refers to the process of exiting, looking beyond the exit occasion and planning what to with the achievements and relations established in the phase of closing down whatever was happening before, generally centered on financial philanthropy. What we are uncovering is that this practice is fraught with hurdles that relate to fuzziness within the different structural hierarchies of Boards, Executives and Staff. Misunderstandings on the purpose of the organisation and how to realise this purpose. I also know from dealing with public funding organisations that they will indicate that there is a formal exit procedure, but that the staff member concerned will from the beginning tell you that they how to handle this in such a way that the relation will not be affected. There are many more examples of poor practice in this area.

Withdrawal is a term that in this context i cam across today and is the subject of a special seminar by Intrac on 27/11/2012. (see www.intrac.org) Withdrawal is a word that brings vivid activity to my mind, associated with a ‘cold turkey’ end of an addictive relationship with drugs, or a not very effective method of birth control. The suddenness of ending is the common feature, In their briefing paper Intrac examines various practices of exits, exit strategies and the impact thereof on civil society organisations. Reading the paper reveals their effort to explore the dynamics from the perspective of the organisation that withdraws their (financial) support. Secondly, they seek to bring the impact and consequences of the withdrawal to the fore. As Intrac is deeply involved with the development of civil society their conclusions and lessons are phrased in those terms of civil society impact and implications. They too do  not underestimate what it takes and look forward to further work on this thematic subject.

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” — Dr. Seuss

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