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**Fourth in a series relating to a recent “experiment” in succession planning

Mokita = that which everyone knows and no one speaks of. Sure, the white elephant in the room. Right? In my experience we have joking side conversations about the “white elephant” and typically do nothing to face it down. 

Though a familiar concept, this was one of the many “gems” I took away from Leaders Forum with Halley Bock of Fierce, Inc. two weeks ago.

Halley pointed out that a “mokita” is not something to joke about. It is something to tackle head on. She introduced the notion that the Papuans of New Guinea...

In 1994, world-renowned Encyclopedia Britannica released Encarta, the first internet-based version of their encyclopedia, accessible for a fee. Built with a team of paid researchers, and with the support of expensive retrieval software, Encyclopedia Britannica amassed over 300 million characters of text and 2,000 illustrations.

In 2001, Wikipedia was founded as a not-for-profit organization with a mandate to provide a free, open-source, collaborative encyclopedia. The creators invited any user who visited the site to contribute their knowledge as editors of its entries. By June 2012, Wikipedia...

For the 140 of you who joined us for Fierce Conversations in Not-for-Profit Organizations: Leaders Forum 2012 last week, THANK YOU. We’re thrilled you chose to spend your morning with us and Halley Bock, President and CEO of Fierce, Inc., and hope you came away feeling inspired to lead some Fierce Conversations of your own.

Check out the recap here from our very own participants.

A theme of the morning was that as a sector, we certainly are unique – both in our challenges, but also our opportunities. 

We are often challenged by a condition of scarcity thinking – “there isn’t enough money...

Last week I posted an email from a potential knowledge philanthropist who wanted to volunteer with Vantage Point. I posed the question: What process do you have in place to engage the talents of people who knock on your door? 

One of our readers commented: When an applicant has such impressive credentials, a board member (maybe even the chair of the board) or the CEO or other senior staff should arrange to meet to talk more and assess the fit. 

I agree. At Vantage Point, each knowledge philanthropist who knocks on our door is referred to Colleen Kelly (our Executive Director and Chief People...

Right now, someone with high-level skills and expertise in your community is thinking about volunteering with your organization. When they knock on your door, will you know how to put their talent to work?

This is an actual email our organization received two weeks ago: 

I'm writing to apply for a volunteer position with your organization and feel I'd be a great fit.  I have six years of escalating management experience for 5-200 million dollar businesses across western Canada and have led corporate, political, and retail teams to deliver nation-leading results.

 I'm committed to building a...

How often does your board take time to reflect, tackle tough questions and engage in creative, blue-sky thinking? 

Last week one of our facilitators asked a group of board members and executives this exact question. Most agreed their board did not spend as much time as they wanted in this mode of thinking. They talked about how challenging it is to move generative conversations towards actionable, positive results. They feared it would take up significant time – and many are already struggling to get through their current agendas.Some worried generative thinking would send the board down a...

We are excited to unveil our new graphic that depicts our five major areas of focus. These are the heart and soul of a people lens organization.

Thank you to our knowledge philanthropists! We loved working with Kaoru Matsushita, as she developed this graphic. We loved hearing from you about these five areas. Some of you posted on our blog, and some sent emails. You told us what you thought would be best in each of those categories, and most of what you have suggested is now included in our book, The Abundant Not-for-Profit.

The five how-to chapters include:

Build a People Culture – A people...

Today's guest post comes from Eryn Kelly, Calgary Reads Vice Chair.  


I have a rather challenging time when I am asked to describe my ‘work’; usually because when asked to describe work we are asked to make a distinction between paid ‘work’ or unpaid ‘volunteer’ experience.

 I struggle with this as it seems to suggest that there is a different value assigned to each.I have volunteered for as long as I can remember and I have done this because I care. I care deeply about the causes that I volunteer with and I see volunteering as a part of my responsibilities and privileges as a human being. I...

As we write (and rewrite!) our upcoming book, we’re thinking a lot about how current beliefs conflict with the cultural norms required to integrate volunteers and salaried employees into one team.

In fact, we’ve focused one full chapter on how to “Create a People Culture.”

There are a lot of “old” myths about volunteers that keep us from leveraging a huge pool of available talent. To combat these myths, and begin to create new ones, we’ve started using alternate language like “external talent” and “knowledge philanthropist.”

Are the following two BIG myths alive and well in your organization...

What happens when we underutilize the talent that exists in our organizations? We may think it’s simply a missed opportunity for greater growth and better mission delivery. But what if it’s actually harmful?

A recent Harvard Business Review article by Liz Wiseman titled, Smart Leaders Get More Out of the Employees They Have, reminded me how the untapped potential of salaried staff and knowledge philanthropists (volunteers) have the same root cause. In both cases, leaders and managers are not proactively identifying and engaging all the talents, skills and expertise available to them.



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