News, comments, resources, and more for nonprofits.
I love checking things off my list. I love it so much that I add quickly-done things to my list just so I can check them off. Feeling the rush of placing another Check Mark (oh yes, I capitalized it) on this week’s list, I briefly bask in a business buzz.
Now it’s Friday – the week’s end. I’m looking back at the past few days – what’s done, what’s yet to do. Admiring each Check Mark on the list, I pause and puzzle over how puny each accomplishment appears. No one task seemed to do anything of great substance; rather, each task simply moved an effort one little step forward.
Indeed, accomplishments of great substance – such as eating the proverbial pachyderm – are done one step at a time…and often by more than one person or one team or even one organization. Collective impact moves the big issues.
So, each day we move forward, one step by one step. We communicate, person by person. We ask, question by question. We explore, issue by issue – each conversation, each action, each insight contributing a thin layer of substance and understanding.
Eventually, the big issue falls. But it was the daily nudge that brought that issue to the edge.
As they say, the dollar’s in the details, life’s in the little things, and Check Marks ROCK! So, I think that I’ll go make my To Do List for next week.
Are you squeezing every last cent out of every dollar, every year…and still running a deficit? Are you expanding your mission to chase after one more grant? Do your communications often (too often) say, “please save us, we’re worth it?”
If so, it’s time to admit that your organization’s business model is unsustainable. It’s not time to redouble efforts. It’s time for a new direction - time for a turnaround.
Turnarounds are not miracles. They result from good planning and determined implementation, and they require an unwavering focus on strong leadership, disciplined management, aggressive marketing, and right-sized fundraising.
Strong leadership delivers
* a single, unified vision
* a positive, forward-looking face to outside world
* courageous decision-making
Disciplined management delivers
* obsessive focus on the mission
* a feasible plan toward sustainability
* short-term needs handled with long-term perspective
Institutional marketing delivers
* A clear, mission-focused message that’s descriptive and inspiring
* One solid PR hit every quarter (monthly for larger orgs)
* One spokesperson who controls the media message
Right-sized fundraising delivers
* Gifts that make sense given your organization’s budget and profile
* Grants that support the current mission (vs. create new lines of programming)
* Increased revenue
Again, turnarounds are not miracles. They result from good planning and determined implementation. Further, they take place with energy and speed – no more than three years.
ONEplace@kpl can assist with your turnaround. Email or call today (269-553-7899).
Much of the above is drawn from Michael Kaiser’s excellent book, The Art of the Turnaround. He sets forth ten rules that are clear and practical, and he tells several stories of how he applied those rules to turn around various struggling organizations.
ONEplace renovations commence this week. While the conference room remains intact, the walls surrounding the center are coming down. With books boxed, computers carted and pamphlets packed, we’re ready for the walls to fall.
In light of our renovation, it’s tempting to play with the metaphor of “tearing down walls to embrace a broader perspective.” Indeed, creating opportunities for you to connect with your nonprofit colleagues holds a prominent position in our current plan. And, already, several important connections and insights have come about as a result of networking at events and online. Even so, I’ll avoid that temptation.
It’s also quite enticing to conjure the image of “looking out beyond the resource into the wider world.” You know, mapping new ideas and tools on to the current landscape, keeping a long-term view during short-term highs & lows, and continually asking “who else needs to be at the table for this discussion?” Very enticing, but not worth pursuing.
I could, of course, look to an outcome of the renovation – a focused collection, displayed at eye level with featured titles that get to the heart of current professional development needs. But, it’s too early for that.
So, for now, I’ll just leave it as “pardon our dust.”
Wait! Perhaps I should write on the power of asking forgiveness for those little things that….
Maybe next time,
Let’s be real…for many of us, September starts the program year. In addition to school, many programs, seasons, and endeavors of all sorts begin in the fall.
As I launch into this year, I look forward to the activities, the people, the fun, the challenges, and all the ups and downs. I make plans secure in the knowledge that few things go as planned. I set a course confident that I will, more than once, find myself off course. I claim a vision encouraged by the surety of surprising twists and turns.
Emboldened by the barriers, hurdles and miscues that lie ahead, I open my eyes wide and dive right in. But, that’s leadership – keeping the endeavor mission-focused over the long haul while events and circumstances (largely beyond our control) would draw it off course.
Fortunately, while we may feel isolated from time to time, none of us have to face our challenges alone. My greatest joy over the past year at ONEplace has been the daily confirmation that all of us in the nonprofit community are on the same team. Every engaging post-workshop Q&A session, discussion, and counseling interaction draws upon a shared commitment to building a Greater Kalamazoo. We’re on the same team – not by virtue of common funders but because of a common passion and our common commitment to live, work, play and thrive in this place we all call home.
So, here we go. Another year kicks off promising nothing more than the opportunity to engage. Go for it!
A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.
According to Ten Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards, each board is responsible for keeping itself competent. This is done through good recruitment and good training.
When boards act, they act as one, so it’s often helpful for them to learn and grow together as one. These common experiences not only provide useful governance tools but the board also grows together – deepening relationships and building trust. It adds effectiveness and satisfaction to their work.
Boards rarely have extra time, so ONEplace works with executive directors and board leadership to target training on specific, high priority concerns. Further, we follow up to help ensure that the change you desire comes to pass.
Each nonprofit board is as unique as the organization it governs. Sometimes, our board members need more than prior board experience to navigate your board’s particular challenges. We’re here to help.
While staff development line items wither on many of our budgets, we still know that attending to our team’s learning promotes job satisfaction and increases productivity.
In a January 2012 Forbes article, Josh Bersin says that the days of the formalized training programs in big corporate universities are gone. Today, many high performing companies use “formalized informal learning programs” that mix on-the-job learning with coaching and performance support.
Does your organization’s training program need some attention? We work with those responsible for staff training (e.g. Executive Directors or Human Resource Directors) to help organize learning programs. Together, we balance learning opportunities from your industry, from internal resources and from ONEplace to provide a comprehensive approach to staff learning.
Whether your program is well-established or more of a thought bubble, I suggest you read Peter Senge and the Learning Organization. It’s lengthy, but it provides an excellent summary of Senge’s 1990 seminal work, The Fifth Discipline, and offers lessons learned from those who’ve used it.
Books, articles, blogs, on-the-job research, peer discussions, workshops, and time to think – these and more all play a role in your learning. And there’s more than enough from which to choose.
Do you have a personal learning plan? What are your career goals? A personal learning plan (a.k.a., professional development plan or action plan) focuses your learning so that you can select an effective balance of resources to meet your goals.
To assist you in preparing a personal learning plan, we provide a template you can use, workshops on personal learning, and we’re happy to meet with you to help focus your goals.
The key is finding what works best for you at this time in your life, and then cultivating a balance of new knowledge, skill development, and personal development. You learn something new every day. Being intentional about your learning will greatly increase your retention.
Under the category, “Can’t leave well enough alone,” we're shaking up our communications…but only slightly.
Avid ONEplace email watchers know that, every other Monday, our eNews brought you this blog, job postings, and programming for the upcoming three weeks. On the off-Monday, our This Week email listed programs just for the week ahead.
In an act worthy of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercial, we combined the two to create our new This Week (which is basically a weekly eNews using This Week as the title).
Why make such a dramatic change?
First, new jobs are posted every week, so it makes sense to include the link each week. Second, listing three weeks of programming each week saves you time and clicks. And third, using the name This Week rather than eNews, saves confusion with our new ONEplace NEWSletter.
That’s right – this Thursday marks the inaugural NEWSletter designed to keep you informed on where we're headed and how you can best utilize our programs and services. It’ll be brief. To the point. And helpful. If not, we’ll stop doing it.
Leadership resides at the core of our failure or our success. If incompetent, it ruins us. If ineffective, it holds us back. If satisfactory, it moves us forward. If exemplary, it takes us beyond our imagination.
We need satisfactory leadership.
One of my college professors offered our computer science class some excellent counsel when he said, “To succeed you don’t need to over-achieve at your job – just do it right.” We need leaders who just do it right.
Lou Salza, Headmaster of Cleveland’s Lawrence School, defines leaders as
…people with a professional, personal, and passionate commitment to solving a problem about which they possess a commanding and deep understanding. “Professional” means they have studied the problem and have a sense of what works and doesn’t. “Personal” means that they are all in—and willing to burn out to succeed. “Passionate” means that it is not about them as people. It is about the mission—solving the problem.
Satisfactory leaders embrace the first two of Lou’s three qualifications. They know their stuff, and they know how to deliver in a professional way. Further, they pour their lives into it – what Jim Collins describes as fanatic ambition for the cause.
Leaders who take their fanatic ambition beyond themselves, their careers and even their organizations, and focus on the organization’s mission, become exemplary leaders. These rare individuals embody the paradox of Collins’ Level Five Leadership – fanatic professional ambition and extreme personal humility. They connect with others who share their vision, and, together, they deliver transformative community impact. They also care deeply for their people – staff, board, volunteers & supporters – knowing that “organizations” don’t succeed, people do.
We value and are grateful for the leaders we have in our community, but our shared dilemma – here and throughout the country – is the need for more satisfactory leaders. While much time and money is spent on leadership development, we still find ourselves lacking.
In her book, The End of Leadership, Harvard professor Barbara Kellerman offers her critique of the leadership industry and suggests that we need to recognize that leadership development is a long-term proposition (not the result of a brief series of workshops designed in a one-size-fits-all fashion), and, more pointedly, we need to stop ignoring and start addressing leadership that is ineffective or incompetent.
As we look ahead, ONEplace commits to a three-year plan of establishing long-term leadership development beginning with a balance of workshops and various small group intensives. Further, we’re expanding our board of director services to help boards better develop themselves as well as their organizations.
Leadership is our core issue. Let’s stay connected to build strong leadership over the years to come.
Fall kicks off expanded and more targeted services from ONEplace to you.
First, our programming focuses more on leadership development. Our ONEplace Leadership Series workshops bring executive and non-executive leadership information, skills, and processes to you every month. Plus, in addition to the annual ONEplace Nonprofit Leadership Academy (info coming in September), we’re offering intentional small group intensives beginning this fall. Small groups are forming around mindfulness based learning, case study based learning, and content area based learning.
Expanded Board of Director services also start this fall including workshops, customized training, and direct assistance. Sit down with ONEplace staff to discuss your specific needs and challenges, and together we’ll develop an approach to work for you.
Explore an array of information and instruction on our website. We’re curating general information and providing it 24/7 on our website, as downloadable PDFs, and via video. As a result, this information sits at your fingertips and reaches those of you who can’t always get away from work to attend a class.
Finally, you can keep up on emerging services and local area nonprofit issues through ONEplace NEWSletter, our new monthly newsletter. Launching on August 29, NEWSletter offers you news of developing resources and services to strengthen your skills, your staff, and your organization.
Your success defines our commitment – year round professional development, free of charge. See you soon!