In Britain, the Statler and Waldorf syndrome is very common in many organisations. Attempts to get around it are fruitless. In British Naturism, BN, this syndrome is all too obvious. We are told that BN is a volunteer run organisation and that there are no shortages of ideas but a shortage of volunteers to put them into action.
It is true that BN is a volunteer run organisation so the shortage of volunteers needs to be explained. Is it that in Britain there is a shortage of people with ideas, drive, ability and commitment? Of course not, that would be nonsense. Is it that naturists lack these valuable characteristics? No, that would also be nonsense. So why is there a critical shortage of volunteers?
In a co-operative volunteer run organisation, when someone makes a suggestion others will consider it and make their contributions. It maybe that the idea would not work but others will see the flaws and suggest ways to make it work. Discussion takes place in an atmosphere of collaboration linked with a desire to see improvements, a desire to make ideas work. Suggestions are seen as valuable.
In an organisation infected by the Statler and Waldorf syndrome all suggestions for improvement and change are met with a range of seemingly plausible reasons for why they could not ever work. Suggestions are seen as impertinent, an insult to The Management because they imply they have not been doing well.
The acolytes of S&W are not capable of what Edward de Bono called Lateral Thinking, taking an idea that may have real problems and modifying it to make it work, “thinking out of the box”. Instead, the S&W approach is to rely on the past and current state of the organisation and to resist any attempt at change. Volunteers are encouraged but are only allowed if they adopt this view, that the status quo is the Good and Proper Approach and upstarts, new volunteers, are to be fended off at all costs unless and until they See the Light.
The acolytes of S&W are quite content with their attitude but moan about how hard they work for the infected organisation and how much they regret the lack of support but if they just stopped for a moment and reflected on what motivates volunteers, what makes people volunteer in the first place and what will keep them working for the common aim, they would see why there a critical shortage of volunteers. The trouble is, that request for a moments pause to reflect is a suggestion; sufferers from Statler and Waldorf syndrome are immune from suggestions.