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Showing posts from November, 2009

Encouraging Board Learning

I KNOW THAT MANY OF US, MYSELF INCLUDED, ARE LOOKING for ways to encourage and maybe even inspire boards to take an active role in their own leadership and decision-making growth. It's not easy. That's why I thought the following from Hildy Gottlieb, President of the Community-Driven Institute, in response to a question on LinkedIn about board learning was one I wanted to share with you. Hildy's suggestions for creating a board learning environment can be used by organizations of any size, with staff or not.So, go for it!I have been encouraging boards to actually begin doing their work as learning communities - with generative discussion being a big part of each meeting, focused on the things that matter most - vision, values, making a difference, measuring that difference.Focusing on the "intentional" part of your question, some strategies I've seen work well. • Have the generative discussion be the first item on the agenda, to set the tone for the rest o…

Building Cohesion Among Board Members

AS WE WORK TOWARD GREATER DIVERSITY ON OUR nonprofit boards, more and more boards are being made up of people who may not know one another well or at all. They don't run in the same social circles in the community, they may come from a wide geographic area or spend just a part of their time in one community. The result is they may only see one another at your organization.
Moving a group of relative strangers toward a cohesive team requires that each person shifts from an individual to a group mindset where the success of the whole is the goal. Successful teams care not only about the organization, but care enough about each other to ensure that everyone is able to meet their responsibilities. To get to that point, team members need to have opportunities to get to know one another just enough to foster mutual trust and respect. After all, it is just those two behaviors that get groups through stressful, even difficult, times.
So, how can board and staff leaders build cohesion…

The Importance of Focus Groups to Strategic Planning

THE VERY NOTION OF STRATEGIC PLANNING DEMANDS that one get out of one's skin to view an organization the way others do. There's valuable information out in the landscape about your organization and all you have to do is ask for it. But, frankly, that's enough to send chills through some of the most hardened organization leaders.
Most organizations rely on the survey as a means to collect community input. But surveys are passive things -- they generally only tell you what's written on the page. No chance for follow-up questions. While they're great for reaching a large group, it's really hard to create a survey that gives you much new or really insightful information. Talking face-to-face in small groups also has its limitations, but hold tremendous opportunities for making deeper connections. And since few cultural organizations seize the opportunity to use focus groups in any regular way....or at all....the format is definitely worth exploring, particular…

Templates are the Enemies of Innovation

NOT MY TITLE, BUT A GOOD ONE DON'T YOU THINK? It comes from thisarticle in Fast Company by Dev Patnaik on how the The Rotman School of Managementis restructuring its MBA program based on developing business leaders who are well-grounded in multiple disciplines (including strategic and creative problem-solving). No wonder then that one premise held by the school’s dean is that “templates are the enemies of innovation.” Hmmm.....templates. My world is littered with them. I'm always searching for them to use as examples, to shine new light on old dusty topics. But, think about it: templates are meant to provide a standard output, whether it's that envelope up there in the image or a policy statement. In the organizational context, it’s so easy to copy or spin someone else’s work, even if it’s not quite the right fit. Yet, one of our oft-stated mantras is “don’t reinvent the wheel”; when someone or some organization has already gone down that road, why should we? Templ…

Why Do You Care? Making Personal Connections to Organizational Mission

I FREQUENTLY USE THIS INTRODUCTION/ icebreaker at board-staff retreats and it almost always results in a new level of mutual understanding and respect: I ask participants to talk about why they care about the organization and want to be a part of it.
Emotional connections to the importance of the organization and to its mission are often revealed in heartfelt ways. Participants revel in newly discovered information about each other. Boards and staffs rarely allow themselves the opportunity to talk in such a way, yet their underlying desires to play a part in an organization are, in fact, the connective tissue that holds the enterprise together. It's a worthy thing to share.
This activity is also a great pick-me-up for those times when a group has just plain run out of steam. It helps bring the energy level up, because it asks people to get in touch with what they deem is personally important.
This discussion is also an effective opening to the creation of vision and mission state…