Recent Posts

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.


Last week I shared the story of how our team decided to stop having staff meetings.

Today, we have other news to share with you.

Four years ago, we began incubating the Next Leaders Network, hoping to foster connection and learning among local young not-for-profit professionals. Since then, we’ve invested $30,000+ in the Network, developed a leadership team to steward its strategic direction, provided 34 learning opportunities and engaged hundreds of emerging leaders.

It’s a great concept. And yet – something isn’t working. Participation rates have been declining for some time. We aren’t...

If you’ve been following our blog posts, you’ll know we’re writing a book.

Today, we’re seeking your opinion on a few possible titles.

Writing a book is thrilling. And agonizing. Some days we do cartwheels. Others we wonder, “Whose bright idea was this, anyhow?” It’s a significant investment of energy and time, thinking and resources. Proverbial blood, sweat – and yes, a few tears.

So why do it?

Because it’s time to challenge the myth that the only way to get things done in a not-for-profit is to find money to hire more people. It becomes more apparent every day there will never be enough...

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

I was living in England with my partner at the time when the company he worked for, Crystal Decisions, was acquired by Business Objects, a French enterprise software company. As with any major corporate acquisition we were curious (read: concerned!) what it would mean for his job security and how the culture of the new entity would evolve. 

As it turned out, Business Objects recognized the strength of Crystal Decision’s entrepreneurial and innovative culture and endeavored to retain and foster that same culture...

A few weeks ago, I shared our intention to become laser-focused on our core mission. Since then, we’ve been examining – and questioning – a lot of our sacred cows. Why are we doing what we are doing? Is each activity mission-critical and truly effective? The best use of our human and financial resources? Does it provide unique value to the community?

The initial effects have been surprising. One of the first targets turned out to be our bi-weekly staff meetings. The meetings we convene with external talent are consistently lively and inspiring, but lately the ones with our internal talent had...

When you examine all the work ahead of you on a major project, wouldn’t it be wonderful to wave a magic wand and have everything completed? So often that is our dream in all the areas where we work... a magic wand. How can you find that wand? Could it ever be that easy?

It is completely logical for us to feel that way as we tackle all the parts of writing our book. There are all the elements of design. We've learned there are differences in design for a print and electronic book, so even more decisions than we ever imagined. There are all the elements around a Style Guide, and so many choices...


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