The following is from an email I received today and is a terrific example of harnessing whining for the greater good. When people whine they are feeling helpless. To make matters worse when people whine they do it in large generalizations; "everything is wrong, nothing is right." But specifics of a problem are the first requirement for problem solving. In the following example the new director empowered his staff by giving them a way to no longer be helpless and instead facilitate change. Thank you David for sharing this. THE EMAIL:

This is about a person nobody could stand, and what he did about us whiners.

A new director took over at an organization's summer camp, after 7 years of terrific camp growth and success under the previous director. During the winter there had been griping and outright rebellion over some new personnel policies and practices the new guy wanted, and in most cases succeeded in putting in place. (He was a Tank that attacked our roles in our beloved camp.)

Call that "The Whine-Up." Now the pitch.

At the first full staff meeting at camp before the campers arrived, he announced firmly:

"If I find out any of you have been complaining to each other, I will fire you on the spot. However, if you come to me with your complaints, I will thank you. Complaining to each other accomplishes nothing. Complain to me, and we can improve things."

Of course he was exaggerating in every way, but he did set a tone of care and interest that lasted. He went from being a person nobody could stand to being a person we would try to cooperate with.

Facts: Time: June 1969 Place: Camp Yavneh, Northwood NH New Director: Abe Yanover -- Thank you, David A. Kra