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
‘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
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
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
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’ 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
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 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?
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
‘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 …?