"I am pleased to submit this reference letter for Ki ThoughtBridge. The Arthritis Foundation is the nation’s only voluntary health agency dedicated to serving the 46 million Americans who suffer from arthritis---the nation’s #1 cause of disability. The Foundation is a 60 year old organization structured as a federation in which there is a national headquarters and a network of local affiliates that are bound together through a charter process. The local affiliates are separate corporate entities. On a combined basis the organization raises about $135 million annually. The Foundation’s National Board of Directors embarked on a strategic planning process in 2004-5 that led the Board to recognize that the existing organizational structure, with 50 separate corporate entities, would hinder the organization’s ability to be relevant to a constituency projected to grow to 67 million by 2030. The Board commissioned a Blue Ribbon Task Force in which delivered a set of recommendations to restructure the Foundation by the end of 2010 to be a more effective and efficient organization. The recommendations included restructuring the National Board, strengthening organizational performance standards, and consolidating the affiliate corporate entities into 10 regions.
The Arthritis Foundation’s corporate structure is complex and the only way to have the affiliates surrender their local charters and merge into larger, more effective regions is to have them come to the table voluntarily. A strong local presence to raise funds and deliver programs is critical for success, so bringing staff and volunteers along on the journey was very important. The Arthritis Foundation’s culture is defined by passionate staff and volunteers working in an inclusive environment with a consensus driven decision making model.
We engaged Ki ThoughtBridge to work with us in the early stages of the transformation. During 2006-2007, we embarked on a Design Team process whereby 100 staff and volunteers from around the country were brought together to work on teams charged with defining the details of the new organization. Ki ThoughtBridge worked with this diverse group over the course of a year to address the difficult and challenging aspects of a large, complex change management process. Taking the time to focus on issues such as how smart people can work together, soliciting the varied opinions of individuals, understanding different decision making and negotiation tools, was critical to enabling us to work through the restructuring. I now work for an Arthritis Foundation that will end 2010 with 10, strong regions that speak with one voice, are united behind a single strategic vision, and work in a unified manner to achieve our vision of A World Free of Arthritis Pain."
- Roberta K. Byrum
Chief Operating Officer