Showing posts from June, 2011

Why Don't Board Members Stay Engaged?

Today a Board VP asked me, "Why don't Board members stay engaged?  They start out enthusiastic and then their activity tapers off."  There are basically three reasons why Board members participate in meetings, committees and fundraising:  
They know the other members and are friendly with them.  They belong and want to contribute to their team.They know what to do and how to do it.  Offer samples and "a buddy" even if your member is successful in business. He or she may not feel confident about asking for a donation or leading a committee of volunteers.They know what they do or say matters.  They want to make a difference.Knowing these three motivators, it's easier to design activities, meetings or retreats that foster engagement.  For instance, a Fundraising Letter Writing Party ties all three reasons together.  Socializing, especially if there's food, sample letters for members to use as a basis for their own letters, plus knowing exactly what the fund…

Entrepreneurship as History Making

There is so much confusion about who entrepreneurs really are. They're mushed up together with small business owners and even independent insurance agents! So I want to tell you how I distinguish entrepreneurs from other folks.

To my mind, entrepreneurs are people who invent a product or service and form a company to deliver that invention that operates in a new way because of that invention. Admittedly that diminishes the number of entrepreneurs around, but it also means we can see them more clearly and can honor their history making task.[1]
The whole point about entrepreneurs is that they see things that could be, see why they would be useful, make them, and get them distributed to the rest of us. There may be a number of iterations before they get it right, but the concept won't let go of them. Sometimes it's as though the idea itself wants to be born.
Entrepreneurs are not working on projects that the rest of us want or think would be great. Those people are innovators -…


… It is not "can any of us imagine better?" but, "can we all do better?" The
dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion
is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise -- with the occasion. As our case
is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves,
and then we shall save our country.[1]

In his Annual Message in 1862, President Lincoln urged Congress to consider how to influence the fate of the nation.Today his words inspire us to review our current conditions with greater acuity and reflect upon them from a more noble perspective.How shall we disenthrall ourselves?How shall we act anew to save the larger world?
Learning – questioning common beliefs, understanding new concepts and truths, testing new insights, and being changed by them – takes our thinking to a higher order of complexity when it is done in a group.The new way of thinking alters previous constraints, and provides opportunities to cross-pol…

Harnessing the Value of Cross-Functional Discussions

Do you ever wonder how to get your message across to co-workers in a different department?  Do you have to work really hard to understand why someone else is talking about whatever it is they're describing to you?  How can companies help people communicate with each other, in a way that incorporates everyone's knowledge and talents without turning everyone bald from pulling out their own hair?

Planning or working with people from different departments of an organization can be tough; and it's not just because you might be competing for scarce resources.  Almost always, people from one department genuinely like and respect the people from other departments in the organization.  But to really be able to collaborate -- work on something together -- people need more than appreciation.  They have to understand what the other person is saying and why it matters.  How does one get that common understanding?

One suggestion for strategic planning or process improvement projects, is t…