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

Red flags, risk matrices, or bow-ties?

Red Flag Memes Last year red flag emojis became something of a meme on social media. While red flag warnings were used most frequently in posts about personal relationships, they were also used in posts on political, sports, and business matters, amongst others. While it may be stating the obvious to observe that red flag… Continue reading Red flags, risk matrices, or bow-ties?

Clarifying expectations – when specifics matter

Misaligned expectations are often an underlying cause of error, tension, and conflict. This is true for nonprofit organisations as much as for any business entity (and family and friendship groups for that matter). When we expect one thing, and something else happens instead, many of us experience emotional responses ranging from delight and surprise, through… Continue reading Clarifying expectations – when specifics matter

Hypothetically – what if …?

‘What if …?’ – a key strategy and risk question We use hypothetical scenarios when considering the impact of driving forces and trends in our non-profit operating environment. Scenario planning is a systematic tool for thinking creatively about possible complex and uncertain futures (Wilson et al, 2000). Different types or styles of scenario can be… Continue reading Hypothetically – what if …?

Making sense

Decision-making and sense-making While much of our focus is on problem-solving and decision-making when we reflect on non-profit governance, without effective sense-making, boards will be likely to make poor decisions. Good decision-making could therefore be considered somewhat dependent on good sense-making. Individual or personal sensemaking When we engage in sense-making we are “structuring the unknown”… Continue reading Making sense

‘Dirty’ data in – ‘Dirty’ decisions out

Directors and managers in the non-profit and for-purpose sectors generally like to think of themselves as rational (evidence-based) decision-makers. As in most fields however, decision quality is often compromised due to unconscious (cognitive) biases, and other factors. Evidence and decision quality Data quality is a key determinant of evidence quality. In turn, evidence quality is… Continue reading ‘Dirty’ data in – ‘Dirty’ decisions out

Rely-ability, Re-liability, and Reliability

‘Reliability’, like ‘validity’, is a term with multiple meanings. In non-profit settings (amongst others) there are several contexts in which the concept of ‘reliability’ is expressed differently. This post reflects only some of these. A dictionary definition sounds straightforward enough – ‘that which can be relied upon, fit to be depended upon, trustworthy‘. When we… Continue reading Rely-ability, Re-liability, and Reliability