|Google Images: snakemaster749.blogspot.com|
The rest of the story is that the organization has since gained 700 new members. Apparently the modifications the leadership of the organization decided to make were valid - they attracted more people. Was the pain of change worthwhile given the eventual outcome?
The leader said you have to know what your pain threshold is. If on a scale of 1-10 you can only tolerate a pain level of 3 you should only make changes that aren't too uncomfortable. He has experienced level 10. If your organization needs major change and some of its members, employees, etc. aren't ready to sustain the degree of pain required, they are going to go. And you need to be willing to see them go.
You might not have the opportunity to choose which ones will leave. Some of the ones you like the most might not be able to take it. Some of the folks who have made significant contributions to the organization's past might not be there to do their thing in the future, choosing to take their energies elsewhere where they feel more comfortable.
How much do you want the result? How important is it to you that your organization, or your business, transform itself to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow? Do you need to do like the snake and shed your skin in order to grow?
Only you know (and your senior team) know whether it's that important. But know this - if you back off midstream you will lose credibility with your staff (or members, as in this case) and contribute to the entrenchment of the organization. You will let people know that if they resist hard enough and long enough they won't have to change. Until, of course, that day when you have to close your doors because you have become obsolete, or your key contributors and/or customers have died off and you no longer have sound financial footing with which to sustain yourself.
It takes courage to be at the point where 80% of your organization is peeling away and not reconsider your actions. It takes fortitude to be in that place where you can see the cost but have not yet been able to count any benefits from the decisions you have made. The outcome won't be instant and the transformation won't be immediately visible. How much pain can you tolerate, and how much do you want it? It all comes down to that.