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Showing posts from December, 2008

Ten Resolutions for the New Year

Ah, a new year! A clean slate. A fresh start. An opportunity to set personal, professional and organizational goals to work toward the coming twelve months. I'll leave the personal and professional goal-setting up to you, but I would like to get you thinking about tackling some basic activities that are guaranteed -- yes, I said guaranteed -- to strengthen your organization and renew your commitment to your mission. Here's my top 10 list of organizational resolutions for 2009: 1. Review your mission out loud at a board meeting or members' meeting. Get some discussion going about what your mission means (or is supposed to mean). Does your activity reflect and support your mission? If it doesn't what do you need to change to bring mission and practice into alignment? 2. Undertake a formal self-assessment of your organization's strengths and weaknesses. This exercise is an excellent springboard for discussions about organizational focus, mission, and practi

In Whose Best Interests?

Any nonprofit has a dual obligation:  firstly (and always so), to its constituents -- be they members, visitors, clients, congregants, students, patients, or colleagues -- and by extension, the larger community that sustains it -- and secondly, to keeping itself financially stable, programmatically vital, and future-focused.  Overlaying this for museums and heritage organizations is the equally daunting obligation to their collections, which they hold in trust for the benefit and enjoyment of the public.  In a way, it's a lot like the image I've chosen to accompany this post -- layered, complicated, and right about now, feeling a bit cold and lonely. It is the first of these obligations that has received great emphasis in nonprofit circles in recent years.  "Nonprofit boards owe their allegiance first to the community and only second to the organization," said Kelvin Taketa of the Hawaii Community Foundation in a 2003 Nonprofit Quarterly article entitled, A Gateway to

Problem-solving as a Deliberate Process

Action Learning/Research is an approach to problem-solving that was pioneered more than 60 years ago by social-psychologists, and it offers pathways for the 21st century nonprofit to explore issues more deeply and implement decisions based on the findings of these explorations. One pathway for problem-solving involves seven steps that require 1) an understanding and differentiating of information types; 2) delving through symptoms to get at root causes, which may then lead to important discussions of organizational values; and 3) developing criteria for impartial evaluation of potential solutions. The seven steps are: 1.  Identify the problem or issue. 2.  Analyze the problem:  is it an isolated issue or is it related to other problems?  Who is affected by it?  How is it handled now? 3.  Describe the problem in measurable, impartial terms. 4.  Look for root causes and causal relationships by asking "why?" at least five times. 5.  Develop alternative solutions, evaluating each