Twork — a Decennial Report

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Twork is the name, we can guess its game, perchance it is germane? Twork’s claim as an organization of members, an outfit of associates, of whom and about what is a question, is in the wind as so many remain forever clueless as to the mystery of a career. Twork has been around for some 60 years and I have some affinity with that. So, what to make of this Twork nonsense?

After a long career, filled with mostly success and accolades too, Twork seemed content to continue its mission in the customary, if quaint, way of providing value to members. Until one day, the grounding of a value proposition was uprooted in favor of a professional property manager, acquired to sustain, perhaps to devour the tastier bits, but only for awhile. Such was the grand idea coughed up by a board of purported business partners, apparently in aspiration only, on leave from their roles as trolls of the Fortune 500.

It would not last, this trip down the yellow brick road of bright shiny objects. Most certainly it would not, as one day a cleft did open, it nearly swallowed the earth, and a demon sprang from deep within to infest the One with delusion, leaving the rest in a dither. A deal was cut, the terms were rich, the end a fantasy distant, and the good times rolled as marketing arrived to save the day with instructions special ordered by design.

Now some days in the future, this careen off course already a decade is past, could it be time for a decennial report? It seems someone should care, no matter their impair, results such as these are ripe to declare. All the numbers are here, such as they are, from before the fall right up through the tumble. Though many are dead the unburied remain. These past ten years a scar on us all, their dimly lit tombstones now sag in a drab, shabby reddish malaise. The numbers indelible, tell a tale of demise, the remuneration of competence’ absence, a riddle of design less instruction and marketing less product.

First the strategy, a vintage gambit if ever, as hype hurled cryptically in language of old, precisely it would seem ten years ago the new ‘clear business strategy’ was pronounced. The components so curious, just read them and behold. It will gobsmack you today, knowing as we do. Imagine our fright just then at the sight, before the decade could even decay, these planks beaten boorishly by a frightful loudspeaker:

  • Virtual product. All product would be virtual in the future –  instructors, manuals, even classrooms all will be on-line. With excitement resembling a nervous disorder with a twitchy trigger finger the announcement was hailed in a shout overwhelming dissent. In fact, the hammer was set to mock any naysayers, prepared before the ink was dry.  “Get Blended”, was the retort to any who would oppose. Tellingly, there were more than a few.
  • Certification proliferation.  Certification would be deconstructed into a patchwork of revenue generating tolls. Thus, the primary certification becomes now several new certifications each requiring its own tuition. Further, even more new certifications would be hatched, enabling brand new tuition programs for junior, mid-career, and even mastery level marks. Imagine all the new revenue. Members will be so excited? We did ask? Bells and tolls.
  • New Headquarters. Finally, as if to welcome the Great Recession, Twork boldly announced the grand opening of new headquarters in real estate posh! Twork’s new D.C. Office and Conference Center, just off K-Street, a few blocks from a big House, was unveiled as its DC beachhead, a gateway to the globe. Celebrations with knowing board members and select insiders, who must have known something, touted this new twist. Due diligence and leadership came to play.

Yes, it really could seem to some a warped miracle, almost like being alive to witness a meteor crash to the earth only to watch helplessly. So too as this organization boldly declared in a single pronouncement its intent to simultaneously replace all product, to dismantle the new product into myriad more new products while at the same time opening a new headquarters, a second headquarters at that. Truly is there a more deserving candidate for strategic make-over of the century? If only the candidate survives?

Of course, the curious may wonder at the outcomes. After all, ten years have passed so what would a score card show? Here are some projections, we can hope they are better.

                   Ten Years Ago              ~~Today(Est)~~

Revenue (M’s)           27.3                    21.0                               

Profit                   +                       (1.0)                               

Investment Fund (M’s)   18.0                     8.0                                 

Membership              23,400                  16,000

Oh what a decade a strategy can break. The genie was blessed to escape with its breath, stealing any magic remaining in trade. The air in the fortress evacuated in a belch as the madness of this strategy pervaded,  hopelessly befouled by these grim results. You can do the math, but the numbers are not good, and the prospects are no better. The only question is if the remaining members have a mandate? Do they see the numbers? What can they say about their experience with an organization in free fall? Perhaps they are busy and can’t take time to notice? It would be unwise to mistake indifference for satisfaction. And those price increases Twork has relied on? They may not be available to right the ship from this yaw. On the other hand?

There is power in a decennial report. It offers perspective for an organization, a waterfall of consequences, polishing the ultimate return of a leader’s bequest. The results are stunning to be sure, but they are clear. Was there ever a gift from this leader to pass on? Now, the future is here with an answer. The silence echoes with uncertainty.

Toward that end, with curtains looming, layoffs have reduced organization census by a third. The lease on the second headquarters should be terminated, whatever the penalty, as it is long past time to cut out this distraction. Leadership has been replaced, finally. Work has surely been commissioned to listen to members to discern their needs? All of which is necessary if needlessly tardy in effect. Thus, the more likely endgame must also be explored – solicitation of an appropriate acquisition partner with the goal of preserving some of Twork’s legacy.

These are challenging times for Twork as they continue to guess at their game. Patience and prayer too are in order as the challenging path ahead is comprehended and a realistic course is plotted. A decennial review can recall the legacy of past success, before it is buried, and serve as a beacon for renewal and a recommitment to foundational values of transparency, inclusion, and a relentless focus on members.

It could happen?





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