Encourage Innovation in Your Nonprofit

What can a nonprofit do to encourage innovation?  Peter Drucker in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, identified four rules that “constitute the specific policies and practices the public-service institution requires if it is to make itself entrepreneurial and capable of innovation.”

First, the public-service institution needs a clear definition of its mission.  What is it trying to do?  Why does it exist?  It needs to focus on objectives rather then on programs and projects.  Programs and projects are means to an end.  They should always be considered as temporary and, in fact, short-lived.

Second, the public-service institution needs a realistic statement of goals….It needs something that is genuinely attainable and therefore a commitment to a realistic goal, so that it can say eventually, “Our job is finished.”

Third, failure to achieve objectives should be considered an indication that the objective is wrong, or at least defined wrongly…Thus, failure to attain objectives is a prima facie reason to question the validity of the objective–the exact opposite of what most public-service institutions believe.

Finally, public-service institutions need to build into their policies and practices the constant search for innovative opportunity.  They need to view change as an opportunity rather than a threat.

How can you take the changing trends in your area of concern and turn them into opportunities for your organization to start making  a difference again?  (You were making a difference, weren’t you?)  And, when will you start?

Negativity is a Killer

Negativity is a killer.  That is not just a metaphor, but a reality.  In the 1950’s the North Koreans used four primary tactics on their prisoners of war; (a) informing, (b) self-criticism, (c) breaking loyalty to leadership and country, and (d) with-holding all positive emotional support.  These tactics resulted in a 38 percent POW death rate—the highest in military history.  So, the next time you hear someone say “sticks and stone may break my bone, but words will never hurt me.”  Don’t believe it.  Negativity kills.

Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton, authors of “How Full Is Your Bucket,” suggest several ways we can counter the effects of negativity.  Here are a few:

“Shine a light on what is right.”

Learn to look for and focus on the positive in yourself and in others.  None of us are perfect. We know that.  But, let others be victims if they wish.  We are better than that, so let’s act like it.

“Make best friends.”

The idea here is to have high-quality social relationships and then do all you can to encourage and build those people up.  In your tough times they become the resource that sees you through.  In their tough times you become the gift they need to survive.  The really good news is that the more you do this the more people will want to be around you.

“Give unexpectedly.”

We all know how important it is to give gifts to others.  But too often, we give too little, to too few, and too late.  We think gifts need to be big, but the best gifts are the little things done on the spur of the moment.  The real secret to giving is to do it on a daily basis, make it personal, and remember “the best gifts are those that are a surprise.”

“Reverse the Golden Rule.”

Rath and Clifton suggest we reverse the Golden Rule and “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.”  Praise and recognition only makes sense if it makes sense to the person getting it.  Learn what makes sense to your family and friends and then, make it happen.  In all of this, it is the little things that make all the difference.

Is Your Work Important Enough to Hire the Best?

iStock_000014691385XSmallYou have three choices when it comes to hiring people, (1) hire anyone who applies, (2) hire potential winners, or (3) hire proven winners.  Hiring anyone who applies takes very little time, not a lot of work, and it will likely destroy your organization.  Hiring potential winners takes work and usually takes a lot of time and who knows, you may just find a winner.  Hiring proven winners requires a lot of work and a lot of time.  You must decide.  Is what you are doing within your organization and on your teams important enough to take the time and effort needed to hire the best? Continue reading

How To Know If “It” Is A Good “Fit”

The Nine Box Grid provides a map for navigating an organization’s strategic intent.  It is normally presented in terms of manpower or leadership potential against measurable performance.  As a leadership selection and development tool it helps decision makers (1) think ahead in terms of talent development and management succession, and (2) prepare for change by having the required resources at the ready. Continue reading

One Model, Two Responsibilities

We use models to picture things we cannot otherwise see.  We model homes before we build them.  We model communities before we develop them.  We model processes before we invest in them.  We even look for model families, model schools, model everything.  So it is not unusual for us to look for models of leadership as well.  And we have many to choose from: servant leadership, situational leadership, tribal leadership, creative leadership, progressive leadership, self leadership, total leadership, participative leadership, transactional leadership, transformational leadership, appreciative leadership, even Disney leadership. Continue reading

So, What’s Wrong?

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image21575969That is a terrible way to start a discussion about fixing problems.  We have been taught that we need to understand a problem before we can fix it.  But, as Albert Einstein is credited with saying, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”  What we need to understand is not what the problem looks like, but what the ideal or preferred future looks like.  Instead of looking for what isn’t working and trying to fix it, why not look at what does work and build on those things instead. Continue reading

Open Your Gift for Goodness Sake

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image23398682Do you know your gifts?  Do you find opportunities to express them every day?  Your organization, your team, your family will only be at their best if you bring your best to the relationships each and every day.  You were created for good works.  Take time today to discover where and how you can open that gift and share it with your world.  The following comes from “Forming a Sense of Mission,” from The Path by Laurie Beth Jones.  It is a reminder of the importance of knowing what we bring to any relationship or team. Continue reading

The Degenerative Group Process©

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image14023034You may have heard of the Nominal Group Process, an extremely efficient tool that allows everyone to participate equally in a problem solving discussion.  It is simply a controlled version of brainstorming, but without the up front group interaction during the idea-generation stage.  In nominal group process each person in the group writes down his or her ideas first, and then as a group the ideas are discusses and prioritizes.  It is a great way to keep any one person from monopolizing the problem solving process.  Also called Nominal Group Technique. Continue reading