The beginning of the year is a time for optimism, planning new changes, and gearing up for greater impact than the year before. It’s a time of inspiration, but how often have you felt stymied, misunderstood, or rejected when trying to get the rest of the team on board?
There are many challenges in translating ideas into action. First, getting the idea from fuzzy dream to clear concept. Then, getting others to understand your vision for change. If you’ve made it this far (congratulations!), now you need to translate the ideas into actions, not to mention figuring out the implementation and (if you were right) the impact.
Still inspired? Fortunately, even our breakthrough innovations can follow in the footsteps of past brilliance. There are tools, steps, and process that can reduce your risk and guide your direction. Let’s go through the steps.Read more
In the world of Harry Potter, Defense Against The Dark Arts is a required class at the Hogwarts Witchcraft and Wizardry School, where the students learn the skills needed to defend against unsavory Death Eaters and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.
Similarly, staff members at nonprofit organizations can equip themselves against unaccountability by learning how their organization's system of internal controls, human resources, and financial protections work.
Now when you cast the spell “Expecto Patronum” (a shield of positive energy), the spell you cast will be well-crafted and effective. (My patronus comes in the form of a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator.)
As we close in on the end of the calendar year, your nonprofit organization might be scrambling to maintain end-of-year obligations to donors while simultaneously meeting the demands of their staff. This is all the more reason to be mindful of your nonprofit's accountability expectations.Read more
What does it take to actually bring about equity in the nonprofit sector and communities?
I think about this question a lot, particularly in the context of the nonprofit workforce and leadership. Minnesota tops the national lists as the most educated, literate and healthy. But, it also tops the lists indicating the highest educational, employment and health disparities in communities of color. Minnesota is great at everything, including disparities. Nonprofits play an important role in all of these areas of inequity in our communities, and Minnesota's nonprofit staff, leaders and boards are not reflective of the communities in which we work.Read more
How many times in a meeting have you said, “HEY everyone! I have the best idea….” Your boss is nodding vigorously. Your work bestie is clasping her hands in delight. You’re beaming from ear to ear. But you can’t celebrate yet.
You forgot about negative Nelly. Nelly is already scowling. She’s just waiting to chime in with, “That’s out of budget, our CEO doesn’t have Twitter, and where in the heck would we even get a trained polar bear?” Srsly, Nelly, chill!
In the working world there has been long held cultural ideal of the perfect worker: the extraverted, enthusiastic, and ambitious optimist. Inspired by the spate of articles arguing for the value of introverts, I think we need to also recognize the value of having a pessimist on our team.Read more
Working in the nonprofit sector is usually viewed as a noble pursuit. The hours are usually long, the tasks you juggle are complicated, and the pay and benefits are usually lower than for-profit equivalents, but the rewards are often about making the world a better place. It’s become a punchline in Silicon Valley that all of these startup businesses are “making the world a better place,” but many nonprofits can legitimately claim that. Working for an organization whose values line up with your own can be incredibly rewarding. However, just knowing an organization has a 501(c)(3) tax status does not guarantee that an organization is truly a benefit to the public. Just like any sector, there are nonprofit organizations where fraud, mismanagement and illegal activity can be found.Read more
We all love pulling our new phone out of its box, feeling the radiant glow as it turns on for the first time. Over time, we develop an intimate relationship with it; we give it plenty of attention, and, in return, it gets to know us so well it begins to predict our behavior. Sometimes we take for granted how much an electronic device knows us better than some friends or family members.
But how did its producers know what we needed? How did smart phone gets so smart? How could its designers make a product that meets our needs so well?
The answer is: because they asked us.Read more
Since I’m (sorta) a millennial, I’d like a pool table in the office. I also want “take your parents to work” days, a free pop-tart station, an Atari for kicking back between meetings, and fun, wacky team-building activities where our office slowly becomes family, like in an Aaron Sorkin show (preferably Sports Night, the best tv show ever).
Actually, stop. None of those things are important to me. In fact, I would be mortified and a bit insulted at “take your parents to work” day. Not that my parents aren’t cool, but it’s not like I’m printing out my annual reviews to hang on their fridges.Read more
I’ve gotten used to sounding apologetic when I explain to people what I do for a living. After all, I have a Master’s degree in Public Policy from one of the best policy schools in the nation. How could I possibly just be an assistant? I get defensive and feel like I have to justify my decision to take a job that would not impress any of my peers. Since starting, I had feared this job wouldn't allow me to learn any tangible skills, and I would leave it having accomplished nothing.Read more
In my post, 'An Approach to Dealing with Resistance in Your Organization', I discussed how change in your organization could cause resistance, and I suggested strategies to work through it. This post will focus on culture in an organization and why it is important to understand the culture of an organization before, during, and after implementing change – a Part 1 if you will. Part 2 will focus on what you can do during organizational change and how to ensure culture change sticks. It is important to remember that an organization does not have culture; it is the people that create, form and maintain a culture. Culture can dictate if an acquisition, merger, or organizational change goes successfully, and it is vital to understand how structural changes will impact said culture.Read more
"The state of worrying where your next meal is going to come from – you have uncertain income or you have more expenses than you can manage and you have to juggle all these things and constantly being pre-occupied about putting out these fires – takes up so much of your mental bandwidth, that you have less in terms of cognitive capacity to deal with things which may not be as urgent as your immediate emergency, but which are, nevertheless, important for your benefit in the medium or longer term."
That’s research fellow Anandi Mani quoted in The Guardian on the hypothesis of a study showing the negative effects of financial worry on decision-making. In the study, two groups – one rich and one poor – were given two test scenarios. The first scenario presented an “easy” car repair costing $150, and the second scenario presented a “hard” $1,500 repair, and then both groups took IQ puzzle tests while pre-occupied with their scenario. Both groups performed comparably on the easy repair, but the poor group struggled in the hard scenario. The study found that “their average IQ was 13 points lower when they were thinking about serious financial troubles.”Read more