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Let your efforts be known

Are you one of the many area residents who engage unique, innovative, even wild efforts making Kalamazoo a great place live and work? We believe you need a forum to be heard, so we’re launching Kalamazoo Connect.

Kalamazoo Public Library and ONEplace unite to spotlight dynamic community building efforts in Greater Kalamazoo. Each quarter, Kalamazoo Connect features three short presentations on innovative, engaging endeavors followed by an opportunity for informal discussions and networking. Locally-sourced refreshments will be served following the presentations.

Interested? Your presentation will be given in a TED-talk style – open-stage speaking with optional use of notecards. Your presentation must be a minimum of 5 minutes and cannot exceed 10 minutes. You may use audio-visuals if you wish. (For examples, visit www.ted.com.)

Here’s how you can tell Kalamazoo about your innovative, community building efforts.

1. Submit your entry by emailing your name, phone number, name of organization or business, and description of talk (approximately 100 words) to ONEplace@kpl.gov. Entries are due by 5pm on Friday, January 23

2. Applicants will be notified by Tuesday, January 27

3. Participate in a rehearsal of your talk during the week of Feb 2 (by appointment)

4. Accepted applicants must attend and speak at the Kalamazoo Connect event on Wednesday, February 11, 5-6:30 pm

If you have any questions, please contact ONEplace 269-553-7910 or ONEplace@kpl.gov.

Best,

Thom


Management Track gains traction

ONEplace’s workshop attendance jumped 74% during the last six months of 2014 (compared to same time last year). The huge increase was driven in large part by our new Management Track.

Launched in September 2014, our Management Track includes workshops targeted to managers, executive staff and board members. Events address critical issues, skill development and processes related to delegation, communication, decision making, board development, project management, coaching and more.

Management skills develop continually throughout one’s career. Everyone, regardless of experience level, benefits from refreshing their understanding and assessing their skills in these areas.

Upcoming Management Track workshops include:

Jan 20 – 3 Steps to Improve your Board (Better Board Series)

Jan 22 – Project Management

Jan 27 – Stronger Boards: Recruitment, Onboarding & Retention (Better Board Series)

Feb 17 – Board Membership 101

Feb 25 – Emergency Action Planning

Mar 17 – Coaching for Breakthrough Performance

All events are free of charge and open to nonprofit staff, board members, and volunteers. Registration is required.


Take the Lead

At ONEplace, this marks the midpoint of our three-year plan (July 2013 – June 2016). Leadership development is job ONE stands as one of three pillars of this plan. Here’s an update on this pillar’s progress to date and direction for the coming year.

This past fall, we arrived at our working definition of leadership: taking full responsibility and ownership of your role(s); listening and learning from others, and; teaching and sharing with others. We’re expanding our intensive experience offerings to facilitate development of this type of leadership. 

The ONEplace Nonprofit Leadership Academy offers an intensive development experience for those in supervisory roles at medium to large organizations. Our Peer Learning Groups provide this experience for managers, supervisors, and directors of small to medium organizations. Later this winter/spring, we’ll introduce a retreat experience suitable for anyone wishing to explore their leadership capacity.

We’re also in the midst of pilot testing coaching services for new executive directors within their first year of service. Expect a formalized program to roll out later this year.

Also, expect things to change…hopefully for the better. This continues to be a work in progress for us as we seek to provide an array of events and experiences to meet your and your organization’s leadership development needs.


Our top events in 2014

In the spirit of year-end reflections, we decided to share our Top Ten lists. Recognizing that people vote with their attendance and with their post-session evaluations, we did two lists. Therefore, based upon your evaluations and attendance, here are your top workshops from 2014 (notice ties in both lists).

By evaluation

1. Improve Your Short Writing (4/29/14) 99%

1. Improvising Management (Management Track – 10/30/14) 99%

1. Find Solutions – Solve Problems (Management Track – 11/4/14) 99%

4. How much should a Website Cost (3/6/14) 98%

5. How to Win Grants (4/17/14) 97%

6. Manage by Improvisation (1/24/14) 96%

6. Better Mail Appeals (3/26/14) 96%

6. Google Analytics (4/10/14) 96%

6. Grant Research Tools (6/10/14) 96%

6. Attaining Sustainability (8/26/14) 96%

6. Grant Writing Basics (12/2/14) 96%

6. Improve Your Decision Making (Management Track – 12/4/14) 96%

By attendance

1. Community Alignment (Leadership Series – 10/16/14) 44

2. Communicating for Results (Supervision Series 2 – 9/22/14) 39

3. Job of a Manager (Supervision Series 1 – 9/15/14) 37

4. Building Relationships (Supervision Series 3 – 9/29/14) 36

4. Managing Change (Supervision Series 4 – 10/6/14) 36

6. Leading & Empowering (Supervision Series 5 – 10/13/14) 35

7. Building a Cohesive Team (8/27/14) 34

8. Grant Writing Basics (3/18/14) 32

9. Grant Writing Basics (9/11/14) 29

10. Donor Recognition (Fundraising Series 3 – 10/23/14) 28

Thank you for all you do to support, encourage and enrich our community. You’re amazing people doing amazing work.

All the best for 2015!

Thom

* Management Track and Series designations were introduced in September


Leggo my ego

I enjoy basketball. While some individual players stand out, it’s the performance of the team that decides the game: working together, anticipating each other’s moves, and sharing the spotlight. Sure it takes practice, but it takes more than practice.

It takes trust.

On a team, trust means…

 

  • You hold one another accountable without assigning blame
  • You willingly give and receive extra efforts without keeping track
  • Knowing that the team has your back, you take risks without guilt
  • You communicate openly and directly with your teammates without fear

 

…and you do it all for your mission…for your cause.

Being on a team requires us to extend beyond ourselves. In our recent workshop on Mindfulness in the Workplace, Eric Nelson provided a compelling research- and case-based argument for mindfulness practice. The benefits were so varied and plentiful, I finally asked, “What’s the downside?” Without hesitation, he responded, “It challenges your identity.”

Mindfulness practice makes us face our assumptions and how they often differ from others’ assumptions. It chips away at our ego and helps us recognize how much we need each other to achieve better understanding as well as better performance. By letting go of our need to be right, we free ourselves to be correct. We free ourselves to trust.

I’ve written before on ways to build trust. Yet, these efforts falter when individuals stay wedded to their own assumptions and agendas. The more we understand ourselves and let go of our own egos, the more we open ourselves to trust our teammates. And that’s a step we must take on our own.

The ball is in your court.

Best,

Thom


You're welcome

I expect that every organization and business strives to be hospitable. We want staff, clients, visitors, supporters, and vendors to feel welcomed and comfortable in our place and at our events. Yet, even with best of intentions, we may run into times when we’re stumped.

What do you do when you don’t know what to do?

Some situations may throw us for a loop. Many of us have faltered around language issues, physical challenges, cognitive disabilities, cultural misunderstandings and more.

We can take steps to prepare ourselves and our organizations to be hospitable in these situations: glean your staff’s wisdom by initiating the discussion; identify gaps in understanding and then research and share information at staff meetings; and take advantage of workshops offered by area agencies.

This week, ONEplace welcomes Allison Hammond (Arcadia Institute) to explore Supporting People with Disabilities in your Organization. Allison will help us discover how we can successfully include people with disabilities as participants, volunteers and employees. Plus she will highlight resources to assess and support our ongoing efforts.

Most of us desire an open and welcoming community. It starts with each of us creating that environment right where we are.

Best,

Thom


On track

Are you staying on track? Perhaps you’re getting on track. You may even be off track, sidetracked, or more akin to General Halftrack. In any event, it’s good to know where you are and where you are headed.

What’s dodgy about our work is that it often moves in cycles. As one friend of mine will say, “I’m doing what I always do in December.” Just as we cycle in and out of seasons and improve the appointed tasks with each go around, we also can revisit basic management skills and improve them.

This is why ONEplace offers Management Track workshops. These events address skills and processes fundamental to nonprofit management. They also provide opportunities to develop, hone, and refine our skills and offer teams opportunities to learn skills together (which improves application and retention).

Upcoming Management Track workshops include:

Decision Making (12/4) – a decision making process for individuals and teams that focuses on good data and clearly documents process and results

Design, Funding & Constructing Facilities that Fit (1/15) – if you are considering a renovation or building project, this will help you navigate the details

Project Management (1/22) – a time-tested approach to projects that facilitates focused definition, detailed planning, and well-managed implementation

Emergency Action Planning (2/25) – emergencies will happen and this workshop ensures that you know how to plan, prepare, and care for the unexpected

Good leaders continually learn new things as well as refine and deepen that which is already known. They travel a track that doesn’t go in circles; rather, it spirals to ever-deeper understanding.

Best,

Thom


Interaligned communities

Last Thursday I enjoyed gathering at ONEplace with around 50 others to again explore the topic of community alignment. We spent good time hearing aspirations from each person, reviewing some statistics and concepts, and then engaging conversations – both in small groups and large group. At the end of the session, one thing was very clear to me.

We will never achieve community alignment.

I don’t see this as bad news or a negative statement. It’s simply grasping the fact that getting the 75,000 people who live in Kalamazoo or the 250,000 who live in Kalamazoo County to align around a common care may be an unrealistic expectation. And, even if we did agree on something (e.g., education is important), wouldn’t it be so high level, so unspecific as to appear unactionable?

We may never achieve community alignment as long as we define “community” as including thousands of people. In The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell referred to Dunbar’s Law which says that once you hit 150 people, it’s time to start another community or open another location. Why? No one individual can be in relationship (i.e., in community) with more than 150 people. It’s too overwhelming.

Further, with 150 people we can achieve alignment at a deeper, more specific, more actionable level. A level where people can connect and impact can be felt.

Another relevant fact is that each of us lives within several communities. We have our neighborhood community, our work community, our religious community, our civic communities, our families, our friends, and more. Because we’re part of several communities, these various groups – aligned within themselves – may become interaligned due to our involvement in all of them.

(yes, I made up the word interaligned…don’t look it up)

So, a series of aligned communities may become interaligned as an individual takes part in all of them and carries their messages from one to another and another. This cross-germination may not align the wider community very specifically, but it may get it moving in the same general direction.

I’m still working on this one. It’s all to say that perhaps we’re expecting too much from community alignment and need to encourage a network of action-oriented interaligned communities.

What do you think?

Thom


Get on the Management Track

Many nonprofit staff supervise others, manage programs, or both. Acquiring and honing management skills form a continuous process and a cornerstone of organizational effectiveness.

Our ONEplace Essentials program addresses your and your staff’s basic management skill development needs. Every month, we’ll offer at least one Management Track workshop focused on skills critical to your success.

For example, we recently held a video series on event management (July), a workshop on team building (Aug), and our Supervision Series (Sep/Oct). In the coming months, we’ll offer workshops on communication skills (Oct), problem solving (Nov), decision making (Dec), project management (Jan), and more.

Spending valuable time on professional development is essential to your career growth and your organization’s development. By scheduling our Management Track workshops further in advance, you can better plan and coordinate your professional development activities and get dates on your calendar.

Plus, we encourage Management Track workshops as preparation for (and follow-up to) a Leadership Academy experience.

Our goal is to develop Essentials into a menu of workshops that you can count on each year. Of course, we’ll adjust, tweak, and alter based upon your good feedback. Thanks!

[list of Management Track workshops]


Just ONEthing - Oct 2014

Late last month, over twenty participants (mostly executive directors and board members) gathered for a workshop on Attaining Sustainability. After an engaging discussion, we reviewed ten indicators showing that an organization is in a sustainable position. These include:

  • Leaders champion cause & purpose
  • Clear strategies
  • Effective programs & periodic evaluation
  • Single, clean, up-to-date patron database
  • Fund development plan that realistically projects revenue for three years
  • Communications that connect with target audience(s)
  • Leaders exercise influence not control, share knowledge and information
  • Budget to handle cash flow, build reserve, and meet short-term capital needs
  • Succession plans (short-term and long-term) for all key roles
  • Leaders are willing to do the right thing and stop doing the wrong thing

The discussion ended with this somewhat surprising insight: all of these indicators reside within the organization’s control. Participants left with the understanding that, over time, they can build – and maintain – a sustainable organization.