Working with assumptions – risky but necessary

I presume that: Examining assumptions Good advice in one context may be poor advice in another. For example, the injunction to ‘never assume‘ may be sound advice when applied to making assumptions about people and their motivations. It is likely to be poor advice however, when applied to strategic planning and project management. Not that… Continue reading Working with assumptions – risky but necessary

A question of skillful questioning

Asking the right questions in the right way One of the shorthand ways of explaining what governance focuses on is to say it’s about ‘Doing the right things in the right way’. This post offers a reflection on one essential aspect of governance, that is used by every director at every meeting. Skillful questioning is… Continue reading A question of skillful questioning

Prioritisation of everything, everywhere, all the time

We prioritise every time we make a choice of any kind. We prioritise: Every one of the thousands of decisions we make every day reflects a (priority) choice between available options. Conscious and unconscious choices Prioritisation may be unconscious, in that we have previously attached importance or value to an activity and it has become… Continue reading Prioritisation of everything, everywhere, all the time

Regret: your improvement catalyst

In my work with nonprofit organisations, and with mentees across a wide range of commercial and nonprofit settings, I see regret quite often as a drag on innovation, productivity, and improvement. One of the key steps involved in moving my clients forward, therefore, is to help them shift from feeling somewhat stuck in regret, to… Continue reading Regret: your improvement catalyst

Double-edged swords and paradoxical choices

‘Either/or’ choices Most board deliberations and policy analyses are conducted using an ‘either/or’ approach. A set of (usually three or four) options is devised, from which one is to be favoured over others. You can have the answer in one of the red, blue, or green boxes – but you can’t have two or more… Continue reading Double-edged swords and paradoxical choices

The Art of the Doable: Feasible, Pragmatic, and Capable

When making decisions about new projects or initiatives, many considerations are involved. Where the project or initiative is strategically significant, say due to the scale of resources required to deliver it, questions of feasibility will be involved. Decisions described as ‘pragmatic’ may, on the one hand, be sensible in the circumstances. Alternatively, in the pejorative… Continue reading The Art of the Doable: Feasible, Pragmatic, and Capable

The Rule of 3 in your NFP

People find it easiest to remember three things: Three is the smallest number of elements necessary to form a pattern Three elements are more memorable than say, two or four We like to have a choice, but we get confused when we have too many options A selection of memorable patterns formed using three elements… Continue reading The Rule of 3 in your NFP

Discourse (Rhetoric) at work

Having referred to message, narrative, and political frames in my last post, the theme of good and bad communication (rhetoric) beckoned for this reflection. Institutional Rhetoric How we characterise our nonprofit organisation and our relationship to it is evident in the language we use in our internal communications, and our representation of the entity to… Continue reading Discourse (Rhetoric) at work

Frames, Framing Effects, & Reframing

‘Frames’ appear in many forms in our lives every day. We use the noun ‘frame’ to describe hard things like wood or steel wall constructions, and soft things like data and concept structures. Amongst other meanings, we use the verb ‘(to) frame’ to mean choosing our words carefully, and planning or organising ideas and methods.… Continue reading Frames, Framing Effects, & Reframing

Sensemaking Schemas, Frames, & Mental Models

A better understanding of the dynamics of sensemaking interactions between directors in the board room, between directors and managers, and between managers and staff, is likely to improve your nonprofit’s governance and organisational effectiveness. Schemas everywhere Insights regarding ‘schemas’ (sometimes called ‘frames’) from the fields of Psychology and Sociology can help us in this undertaking.… Continue reading Sensemaking Schemas, Frames, & Mental Models