Innovative Concepts



The remarkable impact of human-centered strategic planning is that we can execute fully on the strategy immediately. If an organization’s stated goal is, to build a dynamic community, that starts now. There is no need to wait to assemble resource, staff, and funding. The strategic imperative is a commitment to an experience, a way of being, a core value.  However, if the plan identifies a specific initiative, perhaps executing a capital campaign and building a new facility, it will take years to realize. Supporting and enhancing a dynamic community in every action and communication starts the moment the individuals within the organization decide it is a priority. Buildings, programs, funding goals are results of a human-centered strategy. An enterprise does not exist to occupy a facility. The cause was founded and supported to amplify a human experience that takes place within the structure, regardless if it is a yurt awarding winning platinum-certified LEED newly constructed center-piece in the community.

The human-centered design process provides strategic imact and execution at the highest level, right now.




Tending the Fire


Facing the fireplace inside a Norwegian hotel.  Outside the picture window, snow falls restlessly.  An elderly gentleman rests in the oversized chair next to me.  He is tending the fire.  He rises every few minutes and carefully places a single log onto the fire.  The fire never burns too bright nor dies to embers.  There is a method to his approach.

Fortunate organizations have a fire tender.  An individual who ensures the enterprise’s purpose is brought front and center.  They energize and revitalize.  A person with a sense of timing who can deliver fuel for the journey.  

Celebrate your fire tenders.  They ensure anyone encountering your organization find a welcoming and warm hearth. 

Reach vs. Influence


An acquaintance of mine was upset by a decision made by an event organizer.  They desired a different outcome.  The board of the event held a meeting to confirm the decision made by the event organizer.  The acquaintance threatened the solid standing of the event by leveraging his significant social media presence to suggest a boycott of future iterations of the event.  It was an emotional decision, and clearly, this individual felt strongly about righting a perceived wrong.  What they failed to understand was the difference between reach and influence.  Their message would reach a large number of people.  Nearly all of those individuals did not participate in the event nor did they influence future versions of the event.  He could publish a sensational headline, but few people would read the article or more importantly take action.

Mistaking reach and influence is common.  There are a vast number of channels through which we can contact our affinity group (Seth Godin would suggest ‘tribe’).   The essential question is how many people will act on our behalf.  I empathize with numerous challenges faced by individuals.  Less frequently do I take measurable steps to help them solve a problem.  People must believe what we believe and then see themselves as uniquely positioned to influence the outcome before they take significant action.

Perceived Exertion

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Measuring athletic performance provides a variety of measurement tools and scales.  A cycling computer might give the user the following data fields:

  • Distance
  • Speed
  • Cadence
  • Power Output
  • Elapse Time
  • Elevation Climbed
  • Ranking on Strava Section
  • Calories Consumed
  • GPS Map

We can quickly assess our performance in real-time and measure it against numerous indicators.  What the data cannot readily reveal is the perceived exertion.  There may be hints, elevated heart rate on a scorching hot day, reduced cadence grinding into a relentless headwind, slower average speed riding a freshly chip sealed road. Perceived exertion matters.  If we are not prepared to suffer our impression and memory of the workout can be negative and even haunting.

How does the monitoring of sports data equate to the social sector?  How many times have we not shared all the relevant details when recruiting a volunteer, committee member, or member for the board?  It is easy to focus on the inspirational parts of the work.  What happens when reality hits?  When the board member who missed the preschool class on taking turns wrestles control of the meeting with a full-throated demand?  Or the committee that must work overtime in order for the annual gala to succeed?  If we do not prepare our team members for what they will likely encounter, the perception of their work and its impact can be rattled.  

Let us be honest as we pitch our enterprises to those willing to support the cause.  We can prepare ourselves for the extremes with an advance warning but it is too late when we are caught off guard.  Perceived experiences matter,  even when the data looks excellent.