Author: whatifconcepts

Supply and Demand

IMG_2902Disruptions, delays, and dislocation create demand. Supply and demand may not be the leading evaluation frames for the social sector. There is numerous points of overlap in the visions and missions of many causes. However, groups find ultimately find a niche or fail to sustain their efforts. Occasionally, the delivery of services is so disrupted that the demand far exceeds supply. The challenge is to understand when it is a short-term reaction and when it represents a systemic change.

A Little Help


Sometimes we do not recognize when another person has invested in creating a better experience for us. The amount of time, effort, and resources committed to fabricating a shortcut is easy to underestimate. When you consider the total impact of these advantages, the results are remarkable. In 2019, Netflix saved subscribers 9.1 days on average by removing commercials from streamed shows.

What are we doing to make the work and life of our community better? What shortcuts and time savers have we created so others succeed?


The Spirit of Zugunruhe (Migratory Restlessness)

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I enjoy stories about wayfinding.  Individuals oriented towards a vision that will forever change their worldview, regardless of success or failure.  I read an excerpt from The Sun is a Compass in the New York Times and immediately downloaded the book.  I found myself engrossed in a remarkable journey.  As an adventurous couple prepare for a 4,000 mile journey across Alaska and Canada, they navigate the perils of planning and encountering the unknown.  Caroline and Pat, embody something of a modern Lewis and Clark mixed with the spirit of Klondike Gold Rush, and channeling the naturalist John Muir.  The story follows their epic adventure, one which I cannot easily fathom.

They capture the essence of wayfinding throughout the quest.

Pat has never regarded a to-do list as a worthy endeavor.  Perhaps it’s how he maintains his optimism, working as hard and as fast as he can, dreaming only of the outcome, not the possibility of failure.

Imagine dreaming so big that the scale cannot be represented without being distorted.

I create a giant timetable of what needs to go where and on which date.  Pat tapes dozens of topographic maps to the wall and trace our intended routes on each of them.  When the maps begin to tilt crookedly, I snap at Pat to be more careful before he calmly informs me that it’s not his sloppy taping job, but the curvature of the earth that’s responsible.  The scale is that big.

They embrace disruption constantly.

In order to stay on schedule, we have to follow the ocean’s clock, not our own…at the edge of a volatile and unforgiving ocean, waiting is our safety margin.

And, they recognize the importance of adapting to the real world, despite what the map suggests.

Now I realize a line on a map is only that.  We’ve planned our route around elevation contours and river bends, but we have no idea what we will find really.  Everything can change in a day. In an instant.

What are you working on that is so big that it cannot be fully visualized?  What feels monumental?  What is holding us back from striking out into wild territories, knowing that the journey will transform us and those we seek to inspire?

Keep Hope Alive


The most underrated but essential task of a leader in a moment of disruption might be to maintain optimism and create a vision for the future. As a former Firefighter/EMT, it was so easy to get caught up in the incident. Flames draw focus. Damaged vehicles venting coolants after an off-set head-on collision brings a swarm of activity. On the scene, everything is trained on the incident. A leader is thinking about managing the crisis and also the care and well-being of the rest of the community. Therefore, the department does not dispatch all the rigs to the call. A few firefighters are left on standby at the station, prepared to respond to the next call, ready with the gear, and focus on being present to another set of needs.

In our work today, it has to be more than just a response to the Coronavirus pandemic. There is also an anxiety pandemic, economic recession, shelter and food crisis, unemployment, and many other casualties. What we are seeking is individuals who can assist with the immediate needs while providing hope that the future (even if it is different) will be worth the journey we are navigating.



Cheering for Everyone


Attend a sporting event in a pre-COVID world, and when the home team takes the ice/field/pitch/floor, the fans cheer. Next, the opponent enters, and the boos and embellished chants commence. It is the way of professional sports and entertainment, or so it has been modeled.

What if the same were true for our workplaces or community activities? What if we were cheered when we volunteered for one organization, but the same group individuals cast aspersions upon us when we took action for another cause? What if we were shunned when we turned down the offer to contribute to one enterprise because we invest deeply in another organization? What if we conspired to derail outside vendors we hired to make ourselves more significant? 

What is the cost of cheering for everyone as the foundational cornerstone of new interactions? Years ago, E.O. Wilson visited our community as a guest lecturer. He spent time in the local high school, giving a brief lecture and then questions and answers. No matter how poorly formed the question posed by a high school student, he directed the first sentences of his response praising the student and predicting they would achieve remarkable heights employing their curiosity in a future trade. The world-renowned entomologist wanted everyone in the room to succeed, and he cheered for them in every interaction.

What if we cheered for everyone?


More Miles to Run, Fewer Feed Stations


The new math for the social sector is complicated. There is more distance to cover and less fuel for the journey. Said differently, increased demand for services, and less funding/donations to deliver. In nutrition circles, fasting is popular right now. As nonprofits, we may have to adapt. It is time to deliver as much impact as possible and use limited time and bandwidth to try and replenish. We are in an ultra-endurance event, and we may start hallucinating due to lack of sleep and self-care. It is not sustainable, but we can test our limits and see where the trail leads. Even if we need to walk, limp, or take a trail-side nap, the fact that we are still in the race is more inspiration than we may fully understand.

Today there was an interesting article in Fox Business, highlighting the disruptions faced by the nonprofit sector.

Yes, Online Conference Can be Done Right!

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With more flexible schedules, there are expanded opportunities to attend webinars and online conferences. Yesterday, I participated in the Real Skills Conference presented by Akimbo and Seth Godin. I entered the Zoom session with a bit of anxiety. How do you deliver customized content to two thousand people from fifty countries? The team at Akimbo is remarkable and ready to deliver. After a brief introduction and a short inspirational story by Seth, we split into twelve sub-conferences sorted by birth month. The December breakout had two hundred attendees and two coaches who provided content-rich guidance. Employing framing questions that oriented around four chapters, they delivered excellence. In each chapter, we were automatically directed into rooms with four participants. Each group of four had five minutes to reflect on each question before returning to the December sub-conference to interact with the coaches. I found myself connected with geographically diverse individuals. They were working on projects such as launching a just published book, leading a software engineering team, directing a coffee roasting company, being a rock star parent, saving a community through nonprofit fundraising, connecting the world to better nutrition, and writing a book on cybersecurity systems.

I was able to gain a valuable platform to assist in my consulting work and identify a specific skill to amplify my future work. The sense of isolation during social distancing was quickly removed. I recommend Akimbo highly, and there are numerous workshops available. Second, professional and personal development does not need to stop during our physical distancing. Online platforms, when used dynamically, provide an excellent platform for education, engagement, fun, and a connection.

Ripples of Inspiration


Because you were brave enough to get out of bed in the dark and cold.  And because you dressed and drove to the base of the ski hill before anyone else arrived.  You slid your feet into cold ski boots, pulled skis with skins from the car, and turned on a headlamp.  Because you started placing one foot in front of another and step by step ascended from the base area.  Cold hands and frosty breath gave way to exertion and perspiration.  Slowly, the stars receded from their celestial perch and a sunrise foreshadowed on the horizon.  Eventually, you saw the summit but it remained fixed, no closer and seemingly still rising.  Not until the final fifty meters did the slope surrender its grade.  There, you turn and celebrated sunrise, the valley below obscured by clouds.  You replaced fear with inspiration and let it ripple into your actions for the rest of the day.