Friday, June 8, 2012

New Perspective on Organizational Culture

A friend and collegue just sent me an interesting article from the New York Times about children and character.   It talks about grit - determination, goal focused, follow through and character that make a difference in the children that succeed in school and those that do not.  It is an interesting article  - here is the link.  It was printed last fall.

It got me to thinking about all of leaders that I work with and how they have character and the grit described in the article.  They have goals and stick to them.  They are determined and work hard toward staying the course.  They follow-through on what they say they will do and they tackle tough problems.  Grit means you have the character to succeed. 

I wonder how you build grit and character into an organization.  What type of culture would you need to build that supports that type of goal focus, determination and follow-through for clients and customers.  How could a leader not only role model grit but also put in rewards and recognition for employees that demonstrate the traits and culture that would support grit.   What would characteristics of this model culture be - does  it below on the high performing list?

I think with the continued economic challenge we will all need grit to survive and thrive for whatever the next chapter brings.  Character as the article points out is important - maybe as important as grades and tests for those kids that become adults. How do we help adults, professionals and organizations develop character and grit? 

More to ponder as I try to come up with some new tools to help organizations face the next set of economic and social challenges.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Change Management

Change mangement seems to be my summer theme.  Many of my clients and my projects are centered around the theme of  change management and how an organization - business, government or nonprofit can successfully manage the change process.  I found myself focusing on themes of culture, performance, strategy, and staff training.  It is not easy and takes time, leadership and some clear direction or focus. 

Looking to do more reading and developing more tools on this. 

Lessons from the Field

I recently finished an 18 month consulting project working with 37 nonprofits under a federal capacity building grant and the Northland Foundation.    In that short timeline, 18 strategic plans got facilitated,  12 organizations did board development and we created templates for succession planning, marketing,board development, scenario planning and even a nonprofit chart of accounts for Quickbooks.

One of the side services offered was executive coaching to a dozen or so nonprofit executive directors during times of transition.  Some were new, some faced significant budget cuts and others were restructuring their organizations.  The key themes for me was the whole issue of management teams and how little there is in the nonprofit world about how to build, sustain and manage a team especially in that crucial organizational life cycle between growth and established organization.  

The concept of team charters, management team workplans, change management to address cultural issues and delegation of management roles was new to many seasoned executive directors.  The whole focus on how to develop management bench strength to support strong internal systems and future growth was lacking in many of the nonprofit organizations.

I am used to the business and venture development world where management teams are key and all of the "common wisdom" supports the entrepreneur that builds those internal management teams.   The same level of interest, research and common wisdom does not seem to exist when it comes to nonprofit leadeship and management teams.  Many consider nonprofits too small to develop teams, others think it is the finance director and the development director.  There appears to be little "common wisdom" about how a nonprofit director should go about building and developing their team.
I watched and coached nonprofit Executives as they struggled to learn about how to really use their management team, how to develop a management team charter, and what they would delegate to the team rather than to individuals.  Some teams had so much baggage out of past communication issues that trust, healthy debate and commitment were out the window.  Other teams floundered with lots of meetings that eventually became less and less of a priority for anyone. I spend a good bit of my time coaching these execs on their management teams.  It left me wondering what are best practices for a nonprofit and how do boards and funders help directors find the resources to make sure they have a team.