Innovative Concepts



How do we encourage people to join our cause?  Do we make it easy and convenient?  Are we relying on the post card inserts found in magazines?  When was the last time you filled out a subscription card (perhaps seventh grade and sent it to a friend’s address)?  When was the last time a prospective new member submitted a letter saying they were interested in joining?  When we opt in, we are giving permission to celebrate our action.  As an organization we have the opportunity to strike up the welcome band and amplify our values.


When I purchase a guide, conference ticket, or enroll in a course designed by Chris Guillebeau, I receive an email like this:

Thank you so much.  We are so excited that you are joining us at World Domination Summit.  Everyone in the office is giving high-fives and cheering right now.  We are rushing to the mailroom to send out your materials.  Our day could not be better and we hope yours is equally remarkable…

How we great people, new to us or  part of the the founding membership, matters.  When I board a legacy airline I expect a fake ‘hello’ and move on quickly.  We have entered into a transaction for service.  When I engage with a cause that shares my belief, I offer my talents.  How the insiders at the organization respond determines the depth and duration of the interaction.

Remarkable Meetings?

Attentiv published a report highlighting our meeting habits.  It is worth a read and perhaps some consideration.  Why are so few meetings scheduled without an agenda?  What does the duration of the meeting say about how we value our team’s time?  What is the difference between meetings?

What is the best meeting you have attended?  Why?  Have you told anyone so they can benefit from your experience?

Making It Visible

IMG_9412Just because the path is not entirely visible does not mean a journey cannot launch.  Our greatest successes reveal themselves in moments when we start in a shroud and summit despite the conditions.  If we strike boldly for an invisible peak we move intentionally. 

I am reminded of a scene from the West Wing where Leo McGarry tells Josh Lyman a story of hope.

“This guy’s walking down the street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can’t get out.”A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, ‘Hey you. Can you help me out?’ The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on.”Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, ‘Father, I’m down in this hole can you help me out?’ The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on”Then a friend walks by, ‘Hey, Joe, it’s me can you help me out?’ And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, ‘Are you stupid? Now we’re both down here.’ The friend says, ‘Yeah, but I’ve been down here before and I know the way out.'”

What journey is worth commencing when the summit is not visible and success remains elusive?

Success or Problems

Does your organization’s agenda highlight successes or problems?  Most enterprises proportion the majority of their time in favor of problems.  If an outsider attended a board meeting would they think your organization was succeeding or struggling on a burning platform?

Consider what your organization spends its time discussing in meetings.  What does it do to the culture of the organization?

Sucker Hole

Sucker holes offer hope or false assurance.  Those looking for blue sky use it as confirmation of hope.  The weather forecast will suggest the patch of blue is an anomaly.  It is easy to put the next adventure on hold until better weather arrives.  If we go high enough there is always blue sky.  The question is at what level we are operating.

BoardSource Leadership Forum- Day One 2014


Remarkable content and insights at the BoardSource Leadership Forum.  Here are ideas that I am excited to explore further.

Daniel Forrester

  • Leaders are spending their time in the following ares: 30% interruptions, 25% content creation, 20% meetings, 15% absorbing content, and 5% thinking.
  • What books are you re-reading to confirm or challenge your original assumptions?
  • Big Ideas–>Culture–>Dialogue are three areas where we can be obsessive

Cathy Trower: Stage V Thinking

  • The five stages of thinking
    • Stage 1: collective, analyzing, interpreting
    • Stage 2: Strategic decision-making
    • Stage 3: Strategic planning
    • Stage 4: Execution.  Reviewing progress against the plan
    • Stage 5: Sensemaking
      • Engage board members as thought partners, not technicians
      • Distinguish between discussion (action focused) vs dialogue (exploration and new ideas)

Thomas McLaughlin: Nonprofit Collaboration

  • Alliance is required for economic, resource, and operational sharing.  Mergers required in a corporate to corporate union.
  • Corporate structures are allergic to mergers so they need time and both parties have to win.
  • Honoring the brand is important.
  • Culture is exponentially more important that strategy.
  • Ask, what does success look like?  Who else has done this before?  What did the merger look like?

Richard Mittenthal: Governance 3.0

  • Consider strategic initiatives that embrace the entire ecosystem your organization occupies, not just your enterprise in isolation.
  • Build board capacity by providing board with the vocabulary and technical understanding necessary to discuss programs.
  • Distinguish between collaboration and collective impact.  Collaboration does not give-up much whereas collective impact sacrifices for the whole.
  • Is your organization breaking down the board walls by inviting external guests and taking field trips?

Gigi Woodruff: Advancing Governance

  • Search YMCA’s Board Leadership Competency Model for great resources
  • Six Competencies
    • Inclusion
    • Influence
    • Decision-Making
    • Philanthropy
    • Emotional Maturity
    • Functional Expertise
  • Ask the board: How will we show-up?  How are we related to the bigger opportunity? Which competencies are you going to commitment to during the next year?
  • Who on the board asks, what just happened?
  • Recruit new board members by allowing them to tell their stories and sell themselves to you

Holly Duckwork: Ctrl+Alt+Believe

  • Reboot your organization by transcending history and hierarchy
  • Dying organizations have three common themes: fear, doubt, lack.  Growing organizations: faith, courage, abundance
  • Ask, what are we optimistic about?
  • Combine two best practices to create a new practice
  • Zappos top five core values are remarkable
    • Wow through service, embrace and drive change, create fun and weirdness, be adventurous and creative, and pursue growth

Streets Are for People

Paradigm shift?  What if we started with the belief that streets are for people.  Vehicles are some of the transportation tools we use to access streets but streets do not exist solely to serve vehicles.  When we consider all the possible way people can interface with streets new opportunities appear.  When we think differently, we open the possibility for remarkable interactions.  How often do we challenge our assumptions?