Chat with us, powered by LiveChat Having read the Appalachian Mountain Club Case Study, answer the following question on organizational structure and decision effectiveness? Introduction:? Falender letter to the sear | Wridemy

Having read the Appalachian Mountain Club Case Study, answer the following question on organizational structure and decision effectiveness? Introduction:? Falender letter to the sear

Please read the attached case and answer the below question.

This is a reflection paper and must include below questions.

Having read the Appalachian Mountain Club Case Study, answer the following question on organizational structure and decision effectiveness 

Introduction:  Falender letter to the search committee, and subsequent initial strategy was what?  Based on the Decision Driven Case Study, name why this was an effective strategy/decision?  The Decision Driven Case Study talks about 6 steps to organize an organization to make better decision making.  Using Appalachian Mountain Club provide 3 examples of how the principles were applied?  

Why was the use of the "debt chart"(Exhibit 2) effective use of both data and influence to communicate the severity of the AMC financial condition?  

Based on the volunteer nature of the organization, what 2 Principles of Persuasion are part of the Appalachian Mountain culture?  

For your conclusion, provide your thoughts on why the statement below is so important as a leader? 

  • With clear evidence of the Club's financial turnaround in hand by the end of 1989, Falender's credibility and authority had been strengthened, internally and externally, despite controversial changes simultaneously occurring in the governance arena.

Your paper is due at midnight July 16, 1159pm  Papers must be double spaced, using 12-point font.  Papers should be no less than 3 page and no more than 5 pages.  

Type this reflection in a double-spaced, 12-font format and save it as a file with the name Lastname_OrgStructure and then upload it in Week 10 Deliverable in the online Classroom.  Be sure to include a cover sheet that includes name, assignments and date.   


The Ele ctron ic

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This case is provided to Electronic Hallway members with the express permission of the author, Melissa Stone of the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota.

This is a peer reviewed case, published in The Electronic Hallway Journal ( Vol. 1, 2000.

The Electronic Hallway is administered by the University of Washington's Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs. This material may not be altered or copied without written permission from The Electronic Hallway. For permission, email [email protected], or phone (206) 616-8777. Electronic Hallway members are granted copy permission for educational purposes per the Member’s Agreement (www.hallway .org).

Copyright 2000 The Electronic Hallway


In April of 1993, Andy Falender looked out his window at the Appalachian Mountain Club offices on Beacon Hill in Boston. It had been an especially harsh winter, and spring was behind schedule, but the images he thought about this day were no longer of a free-fall down Tuckerman's Ravine in northern New Hampshire.

Falender had become Executive Director of the AMC in January, 1989. A Harvard MBA and former Peace Corps volunteer, Falender had long ago made a pact with himself to weave his two passions — mountaineering and music — together in a professional career. Prior to 1989, he had managed the New England Conservatory of Music for fourteen years, bringing it back from the brink of bankruptcy. Through this effort, he had acquired a reputation for turning around ailing non-profit organizations, leading them in directions that fulfilled their potential. It was this quality that had attracted the AMC in their search for a new Executive Director. Faced with the financial chaos of a $1.68 million debt load and out-of-control expenses, the AMC had needed a skilled, professional manager. By 1991, under Andy's leadership, the debt had been erased, and the AMC had moved back into the black. In addition, the organization had been restructured, new staff had been hired, and membership was growing quickly. It was as if a Model-T had been re-engineered into a Volvo. The problem, however, remained: how, and in what direction, to steer it?

Early History

The Appalachian Mountain Club was formed in 1876, to bring "people to know nature and to realize its beauties, and to take advantage of the mental and physical betterment that communion with the out-of-doors induces." Starting with a budget of $295 and 134 members, the AMC had focused first on opening up the Northern Peaks of the Presidential Mountain Range in New

Appalachian Mountain Club


Hampshire. When the AMC was established, no national or state forests and parks existed. As a result, the AMC had accepted gifts of property in the mountains to make sure that these parcels would be preserved in their natural condition. Once the appropriate state and national agencies were established, the AMC then turned these properties over to their care, making certain that they would be protected from commercial development. From the beginning, the role of environmental protector had included lobbying efforts, although the AMC had spurned recommendations that it become the Sierra Club for the Eastern half of the United States.

The most distinctive characteristic of the AMC over its history was not its substantive accomplishments but the volunteer work that enabled them. Volunteerism had been a defining tradition of the AMC that applied to all members, in and out of the mountains: members cleared trails, led trips into the wilds, and managed the many different activities in which AMC was involved. Closely linked to this volunteerism was an abiding sense of community in the Club.

For most of its history, the organization was highly decentralized, although the administrative center had always been in Boston. Club-wide meetings were held at Joy Street on Beacon Hill, as were meetings of the Council(1). As Club membership grew, local chapters had formed to facilitate members' involvement in the activities they cared most about. The first chapter was founded in New York in 1912; the New Hampshire and Connecticut chapters were started two years later. By 1992, there were a total of twelve chapters, extending from Maine to Washington, D.C. From the AMC's founding until Falender was hired, the chapters "were the Club," each having its own unique culture and operating with programmatic and fiscal autonomy from Joy Street. As one former Council member recalled, "Some chapters used to not give a damn about Joy Street."

Chapters developed and maintained recreational program activities through committees, such as the Canoeing Committee or the Hiking Committee, and maintained separate checking and savings accounts. The only direct revenue flows between Joy Street and the chapters came from membership dues. For each new AMC membership, Joy Street gave the chapter to which the member was assigned $4.50. It kept the rest of the membership dues, approximately $35.50. Each chapter also had its own publications, such as frequent newsletters, that went out to all chapter members. Chapters had no formal offices and were run entirely by volunteers.

It was not until 1956 that a long-time AMC member was paid to work for the club on a full- time basis. Twenty years later, the first Executive Director was replaced by another devoted life-long AMC member. By the late 1970s, however, the AMC faced significant financial problems, and by 1980, there was a major projected budget deficit, as a proposed bylaw amendment that would have raised membership dues had not passed at the Club's Annual Meeting. In 1985, the Club resorted to taking out substantial loans and cash flow problems were leading to frequent delays in paying its bills when due. By contrast, the huts, camps, and chapters were in a strong fiscal condition and ran relatively independently from the Club as a whole(2).

Appalachian Mountain Club


Finances were not the only crucial item on the Club's agenda. As the organization had expanded its operations, relationships between employed staff and volunteer leaders had become increasingly complex. Lines of authority were unclear. In general, the staff seemed to feel that, while the virtues of volunteer management were many, its problems were beginning to outpace them. As one staff member described the authority relations during the mid 1980s,

The joke always was that the volunteers' hut committee would choose the size of the orange juice glass and then tell the huts manager where to buy it. As a staff member, you couldn't make any operational decisions. You were working for so many different people.

Given this confusion, turf battles emerged as people both protected their own territory and made attempts at accumulating even more control.

Furthermore, some felt that the Council resembled a legislature more than a board of directors, as individual council members clearly represented certain chapter, camp, or activity interests (see Exhibit 1). Neither the organizational structure, nor the bylaws that supported the structure, permitted executive oversight. Leadership credentials consisted mostly of a member's devotion to the Club and a willingness to volunteer. Because of this, enthusiastic but inexperienced volunteer managers could work their way up through the AMC ranks to some of the highest managerial positions.

It was also evident that the club's bylaws needed substantial revision, as they were essentially unchanged from those in the original charter. Change, however, was impeded by the requirement that any bylaw revision, however small or large, had to be approved by the full membership, making the political challenge of fundamental change a daunting prospect. As a long-time AMC member observed, the question was "how to bring the operation of the Club into the twentieth century while maintaining the original spirit of the organization as well as preserving the rights and responsibilities of members."

The AMC's second Executive Director resigned in 1988. A growing concern among members of the AMC Council led to a three-day retreat shortly thereafter. Following intensive deliberations, the Council came up with a statement of mission, goals, and a recognition of several "inadequacies" in its operations. While the Council had great experience in certain areas (such as chapters or camps), it lacked financial management, marketing, and other general business skills. Council members often confused their policy-making role with management, leading to inconsistent delegation of authority and inconsistent focus on mission, priorities, and strategy. Finally, the Council recommended that it: 1) become a "board of directors" and focus on the well-being of the AMC overall; 2) establish a set of standing committees; 3) add five members who possessed more sophisticated managerial skills; and 4) review the bylaws. The Council also began its search for the AMC's third Executive Director.

Appalachian Mountain Club


Coincidentally, the news of the search caught Andy Falender's attention. Andy had been a member of the AMC for several years and had mused about managing an environmental organization with significant business operations like the AMC. When he talked with the search committee, however, Falender found out that the picture at the AMC was not as rosy as he had imagined. Based on these discussions and the tentative plan developed at the retreat, he wrote a letter to the search committee that stated his requirements for a strong Executive Director role and outlined a plan to accomplish what the Council had intended. Andy told the committee that the letter should form the basis of his contract if he were hired. His "demands" included a commitment from the council to support the plan he proposed and agree to centralize authority in the Executive Director and the Council.

The search committee made its recommendation, and, in October 1988, the Council voted unanimously to appoint Andy as Executive Director. Andy's letter formed the basis for his contract, and became, in his words, "the most widely disseminated document within the AMC." It would prove to be intimately connected to some of the thorniest issues he confronted in his first two years. He started work in January of 1989 and was the first professional manager to be hired from outside, specifically for his managerial expertise.

Managerial Professionalism and the AMC

Andy saw an opportunity in his initial role at the AMC to seize the Council's own plan and use it as the core of a blueprint for change. Andy described himself not as a dreamer who generated a new list of creative ideas each day. Instead, he saw his gift as being able to discover the strengths in others and then direct their concerted energy into a coherent and integrated plan that benefited the AMC as a whole.

Falender's Initial Strategy

Falender saw three characteristics as central to the definition of the AMC through 1995:

One, that the AMC will be seen as an organization that is unquestionably well- managed and financially stable; two, that the AMC will be seen as an educationally-oriented organization that uses all of its facilities and activities to help further its educational mission in outdoor protection, safety and wise use of scarce natural resources; and three, I would like to see the AMC perceived unquestionably as the leading conservation organization in the region in those areas that have a direct impact on our mission. I don't think that, even in the conservation area, we should try to be everything to everybody. Instead, we should focus on the protection and stewardship of open spaces. This can get into the areas of air quality and water quality and thus become quite broad, so we have to make sure we stay focused.


Appalachian Mountain Club


One of the first things that Andy did when he became Executive Director was to hire a new auditor and to bring in his former board treasurer from the New England Conservatory as Chair of the Finance Committee. The committee had already taken over major operating authority for the AMC and had been cutting expenses dramatically before Andy's arrival. The new treasurer pulled the committee out of operations and created financial planning and fiscal controls within the organization to insure that financial problems could never again grow so large.

While shepherding the Finance Committee's operations, Falender focused on shaping AMC staff and members' perceptions of their Club's health. Central to this effort was his "debt chart," designed to illustrate dramatically the severity of the AMC's financial condition (see Exhibit 2). Embedded in this simple financial model were complex strategic assumptions about the direction that the AMC needed to move. These assumptions, which Falender worked on in detail with the Council and key committees, included projected revenue streams from facilities, membership growth, and external fundraising efforts. They also included paying back fundraising expenses incurred from a 1980s capital campaign and increasing revenues from a variety of sources(3).

Andy felt that revenue could be increased in several ways. First, hut occupancy and capacity should be raised where possible. He saw the financial structure of huts as similar to that of hotels: they have high fixed costs, so high occupancy rates are needed in order to make them profitable. Consequently, Andy decided to create a Communications Division to advertise the huts and similar services — a controversial idea, to say the least. Second, fundraising efforts should be increased on multiple fronts, including individuals, foundations, and so forth. Third, publications and other saleable AMC products were scrutinized for additional revenue potential, again using the new Communications Division to assist. Fourth, fees for educational workshops were increased; and fifth, membership was to be increased. In each case, he saw that increasing revenues would also increase AMC's opportunities to reach more people and educate them in becoming conservation advocates.

With clear evidence of the Club's financial turnaround in hand by the end of 1989, Falender's credibility and authority as Executive Director had been strengthened, internally and externally, despite controversial changes simultaneously occurring in the governance arena.


In addition to financial management, Andy had to confront major problems in the Club's governance. Three issues stood out above all others: the structures of the Council and its committees (in particular, the separation of the staff organization from the Council); the bylaws; and, the composition and operations of the Council. The first issue was handled in a series of restructuring that clarified and rationalized staff reporting relationships and reduced the "representativeness" of Council members (see Exhibit 3 for the new organizational and board structure).

Appalachian Mountain Club


The second issue, revision of the bylaws, came up before he had planned to deal with it. In April of 1989, only four months after he began, a consultant to the Council suggested that the AMC revise its bylaws immediately. Once the Council decided to move in this direction, Andy chose not to obstruct the momentum for change.

The bylaw changes that emerged were fundamental and controversial. They focused on correcting five key points:

1) the haphazard representation of the necessary experience and expertise on the Council; 2) the relatively short terms of office for Council and Club members; 3) the selection of Council members from geographic areas, leading it to de-emphasize club- wide issues; 4) the Council's tendency to focus on managerial questions instead of policy issues; and 5) the Council's general lack of power to affect central financial and organizational policies.

It was also proposed that the Council be renamed the Board of Directors.

In line with these proposed bylaw changes, Falender's strategy was to add new board members who demonstrated expertise in needed areas such as finance, fundraising, and conservation, had strong natural resource backgrounds, and showed an allegiance to the AMC as a "whole," not just to one of its constituent parts, such as an activity group or a chapter. Realistically, this meant recruiting members without long experience on chapter, camp, or other committees to serve on the Council. Critical to this endeavor was the Nominating Committee that chose not to re-nominate several Council members whose terms were expiring. In the past, such re- nominations were considered pro forma.

Confronted with fundamental change in both the bylaws and board composition, reactions among some Club members built to a boiling point and focused on the tradeoff between increased professionalism and volunteer member involvement. Despite attempts to integrate member concerns, cries of power centralization persisted. In the view of one former Board member, the reaction was so negative that:

… it came near to breaking the AMC apart. Chapter people and camp people felt that the Club would cease to be a volunteer-driven organization and that this is what made the AMC unique. They felt that the Board would not represent members and would instead take the AMC where the Board — not the members –wanted it to go. They didn't want it to become like the Sierra Club or Audubon Society, both of which are 'dirty words' around here because all they ask members to do is send in money.

Appalachian Mountain Club


Despite the organized opposition to the new bylaws and to the Nominating Committee's slate for 1990, both initiatives were successful. In April of 1990, the bylaws changes passed by 92 percent, with an unexpectedly high 48 percent of the membership casting votes.

The mandate for change was indisputable. What had happened to change the governance of the organization was by most accounts necessary, but, in the words of one staff member, the process seemed like "the goring of an ox."

Conservation and Advocacy

From the beginning of his AMC tenure, Andy was committed to focusing the AMC on conservation issues. To help realize this vision, Andy hired Steve Blackmer, a graduate of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, to be Conservation Programs Director in October of 1989. Steve quickly became a central player in the unfolding changes at the Club.

The AMC, while promoting conservation in the past, had never had a clear conservation strategy. According to Blackmer,

The AMC got involved in specific projects, but generally it was somewhat scattered — here's an interesting project, there's an interesting project — and no sense of how all the pieces came together and what it was that defined AMC's conservation interests.

Andy and Steve now planned to move the Club into a new phase of environmental advocacy. Bringing this about, however, was not clear sailing.

One strategy entailed using the AMC's well-developed volunteer network to play a central role at the grassroots level. Steve and Andy were well aware, however, that members had never before been asked to advocate extensively for conservation issues, much less those of concern to an entire US region. Volunteer work had instead focused on physical activities like building trails and leading trips. Furthermore, Falender felt that part of the problem was that Conservation Program staff had too many constituencies to deal with: if they spent time in Washington talking to the Park Service, the Forest Service, and other environmental organizations, they took time away from internal management issues and Chapter member concerns.

The shift toward greater advocacy activities was controversial. Under Andy's leadership, conservation had become a funding priority, a fact that led some members to feel that recreation was getting short-changed. In short, some of the chapters argued that the AMC should continue its tradition of pursuing "backyard" conservation issues but not try to enter the big leagues of regional and national conservation politics. Despite these charges, Steve and Andy argued that recreation and conservation were not mutually exclusive. In Steve's words, "Building a trail up a mountain: Is that recreation or conservation? I think both."

Appalachian Mountain Club



Since Andy had come on board, the Club's conservation programs had changed dramatically, but not in their objectives. The rejuvenation of specific program activity was the result of the creative work of the Education Director, Walter Graff. Graff worked out of Pinkham Notch Visitors' Center, and in his 18 years at AMC, had become a kind of spiritual leader within the organization. Under Graff's guidance, the education programs had grown and diversified to address the interests of schools, families, and disadvantaged youth as well as the AMC's traditional adult market.

Membership Growth

In 1991, Andy had decided to actively pursue new members, in part to increase the long-term revenue foundation but also to broaden the advocacy base of the Club. This high-growth strategy generated significant opposition. For example, the idea of a massive influx of new members made some Chapter leaders concerned about the effects of a larger membership on the Club's volunteer culture and their ability to accommodate new members effectively (see Exhibit 4 for membership figures).

Board members were also concerned with consolidating the changes of the last three years. With so much change and so much growth, not just in membership but also in programs and projects, Board members worried that the Club would lose coherence.

Implementing Organization-wide Change

By early in 1993, much of the turmoil within the AMC over bylaws, governance, and advocacy issues had quieted down. The Board itself had stabilized and was learning to work well as a policy-making rather than operations-oriented body. And, the AMC now had a Vision 2000 statement and a set of goals to guide the organization.

As the Vision 2000 statement reported, "At a retreat in the spring of 1992, the Board re- affirmed its intention to maintain the essential character of the AMC, with particular concern for the balance of conservation and recreation, volunteer and staff involvement, and focus on highland landscapes, including mountains, rivers, and trails." Driven by resolutions at the 1991 and 1992 Board spring retreats, various versions of the document had been discussed at three additional Board meetings, sent out for extensive reaction to every Board committee and a large number of subcommittees, discussed with Chapter Chairs at their summer retreat, discussed in many Chapter executive committee meetings and at the 1992 Fall Volunteer Weekend. The final statement of mission and set of goals were as follows:

Statement of Mission. The Appalachian Mountain Club promotes the protection, enjoyment, and wise use of the mountains, rivers, and trails of the

Appalachian Mountain Club


Northeast. We believe that the mountains and rivers have an intrinsic worth and also provide recreational opportunity, spiritual renewal, and ecological and economic health for the region. We encourage people to enjoy and appreciate the natural world, and we believe that successful conservation depends on this experience. AMC members love the mountains and rivers, and we form a network of users and stewards who protect these areas and educate others as to their use.

Goals. To protect, enjoy, and wisely use the mountains, rivers, and trails of the Northeast, the AMC will actively involve its expanding membership in achieving five overarching goals:

(1) To protect the mountains, rivers and trails of the Northeast while encouraging ecologically and economically sustainable use. (2) To provide access to and enjoyment of these special places. (3) To encourage stewardship of these areas. (4) To create conservation awareness and appreciation of the natural world. (5) To maintain financial stability and operational excellence.

Seemingly simple changes in communication with the chapters had worked well. Chapter leaders were reading Andy's newsletter, which described what projects and activities he was currently working on and gave news updates from the central office's Conservation, Facilities, Membership and Resources Divisions. The new staff person in charge of Chapter Relations had met face-to-face with each of the twelve chapters and had held a highly successful Leadership Training weekend for the volunteer leaders from five of the twelve chapters. Throughout that weekend, she had worked with the chapter leaders on issues such as goal- setting, thinking about opportunities for getting more member-volunteer input, training, and managing volunteers. In the past, "leadership" at the chapter level had focused not on organizational or management issues, but on recreational activities and safety. Furthermore, membership growth had slowed to 10%, and the chapters were managing to absorb new members. The number of "donors" (i.e., members who contributed money to the AMC above their dues requirement) had increased 90% over 1991.

Nonetheless, significant challenges remained, and this time many had to do with how to implement the Vision 2000 policy statement. Falender knew that substantial improvements had to be made to the AMC's considerable physical facilities and that these huts and camps needed to coordinate programming and conservation efforts with the AMC as a whole. According to one board member:

Cross-departmental integration is what we heard most about at recent board meetings. How can all facilities be used for conservation and education programs as well as for lodging? How can trails work be related to advocacy? We need to look for leverage across AMC activities.

Appalachian Mountain Club


Work on the Northern Forests conservation project pushed ahead with the AMC playing a major leadership role in the Northern Forest Alliance, an umbrella organization representing twenty-five environmental groups. There were, however, many other conservation issues in need of attention throughout the Appalachian region encompassed by the AMC.

One critical question, therefore, concerned how to mobilize the twelve chapters and the 55,000 people who were now part of that vision; another question concerned how to pay for all of the things the AMC needed to do to implement Vision 2000.

Communications with the Chapters

While communications with the chapters had improved, problems remained. It was not clear how to communicate the Vision 2000 policies and objectives to chapter leaders below the chapter chairperson level. Joy Street had used Andy's newsletter and the Board's regional representatives (see below) as the major channels of information about Vision 2000 to chapter leadership. It was not clear, however, how individual chapters would define their role in an implementation strategy; that is, what were chapters going to do for themselves by the year 2000?

Suspicion remained among some chapters that Vision 2000 was still a top-down directive from Joy Street. On the other hand, some questioned the fundamental role of the chapters:

Personally, I don't understand why the AMC has chapters. There is a lot of baggage in that history. But, I think the idea is that we need to integrate chapter activities, too. This is an area of investment for the Club, especially in bringing professional staff as resources to the chapters. Now they are getting leadership training from the Director of Chapter Relations; they need technical training, too, about conservation policies, research activities, and so forth. This requires an investment by the Club in technical staff to serve the chapters which would "bring the chapters along" or "keep the chapters in line," depending on your perspective.

As an example of this "technical training," Andy had recently dispatched one of his staff from the Conservation Programs Division to a local chapter meeting to discuss the Northern Forests issue. The meeting was highly successful and had stimulated a great deal of interest among chapter members. Falender knew that "face time" between Joy Street staff and the chapters was valuable, but he was also concerned about draining staff energy and resources away from their existing work with, for example, other environmental groups, state legislators, and Washington policymakers.

The Board's Regional Representatives

Appalachian Mountain Club


Successful communication between Joy Street and the chapters also depended on how the five Regional Representatives on the AMC board were used. These five seats on the board had been the result of a compromise between the new adm

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