2015-10-28 / Columns

Helping to design the ‘Next Generation JCC’ here in South Jersey

FRONT AND CENTER
LES COHEN
Katz JCC Executive Director

One of the great challenges facing any organization is the need to be innovative in a risk averse environment. Right now, there’s a lot of energy being spent in the business schools around the country developing a vocabulary of forward thinking terms. There is something very exciting about a conversation that allows you or me to become the planners and contributors to next generation thinking. In the case of JCCs, the language includes provocative terms like “Design Thinking Teams” and “Innovation Laboratories,” which allow ordinary citizens like us to be part of a legacy effort that will make a meaningful difference and possibly shape the future of our JCC and the community.

We live in a time when we are witnessing the greatest changes in Jewish communal life since the post-World War ll era. The multi-generational demands of a changing marketplace that will soon be dominated by Millennials is both a great challenge and a wonderful opportunity. At the JCC, we engage in creative discussions that encourage new ideas, manage disruptive forces, and generate potentially transformational thinking that will benefit our community now and in the future.

This innovative forward-leaning approach often includes taking risks, collaborating in new ways, and creating flexible, relevant and responsive planning.

We will not sit on the sidelines as these great forces begin to shape society. Instead, we will help to direct and focus these forces for positive results and change in our Jewish community.

By the time you are reading this column, Brian Adler, development director of the JCC, and I will be in Israel participating in a global conference on innovation. By its very definition, it is hard to predict what the conference will include, other than that it will provide new ideas, thoughtful approaches to change, and an attitude that everything is possible.

Every day in our Jewish community we are making history. Our JCC is regarded and respected as one of the best in the country. It is not just about the programs and facilities. It is about the energy that the 2,000 plus people of all ages and abilities, who walk through our door on Springdale Road each day breathe into the Center. It is about the creative thinking of 3,500 older adults participating in the Saltzman Foundation Life Long Learning programs and the collective power of laughter of 300 children every day in classes and activities. If I want to be inspired to think positively and innovatively about the future, all I have to do is sit in the lobby of the JCC for half an hour and absorb the energy, excitement and wisdom of our Center.

Innovation and transformation takes a village. Your voice and ideas matter. Change and risk can be good things. You can be part of the force to help shape the face of our JCC, our community, and modern Jewish life, and in doing so create a legacy that strengthens our community for generations to come.

I welcome you to join me for a cup of coffee and conversation, by emailing me your name and ideas and together we will explore and experience the joy and power of imagining the possibilities.

Thanks, and see you around the JCC. . lcohen@jfedsnj.org

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