May 11, 2016

Blog

– Showing up for Democracy’s Sake – Recently, US Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina cast the deciding vote* confirming Betsy Davos for Secretary of Education. I could not help but notice that Tillis ran unopposed for most of his political career. According to Wikipedia: “Tillis ran for the General Assembly in 2006. He defeated incumbent John W. Rhodes in the Republican primary, and went on to win the election, since no other candidate hadRead More
We believe that well-run organizations are also learning organizations. How do you know if you’re a learning organization? Take a diagnostic test. Answer some questions about the way your team works, and it will tell you what features your team shares with learning organizations, and what you need to work on. Here is one from the Harvard Business Review to get you started. Learning is about improving performance, not proving impact. A well-run organization thinksRead More
Musika is a non-profit organization working with private sector companies that serve the rural poor in Zambia. It provides technical advice, business model support and subsidies to its clients to reduce the initial risks of doing business with smallholder farmers. Keystone Accountability worked with Musika to help it better understand its market and customers, increase client loyalty and promote a client-driven culture. It wanted to find out how clients view the business opportunity presented byRead More
In March last year New York Times opinion writer David Brooks argued that the Republican Party was at a Kuhnian “model crisis” moment in a historical transition from the Reagan orthodoxy to something new that would be born out of the Trumpian disruption. He noted that Trump would not determine what would emerge because, “Trump has no actual ideas or policies. There is no army of Trumpists out there to carry on his legacy. HeRead More
In performance management, a team agrees on a goal and works together efficiently to accomplish that goal. There are many flavors of how teams get to be efficient, and my focus has always been on these few things: – Know what the goal is, and why. – Be able to prioritize. Do what’s most important first. Triage tasks you can’t do right now. – Maximize team cohesion. A team that can work together accomplishes moreRead More
Our House in Little Rock, Arkansas provides housing, children’s programs, career and homelessness-prevention services. And a master class in how to get your staff and your clients enthused about collecting feedback. Joy Ritchey, Grants Manger for Our House, which serves more than 1800 people a year, explained that they have a history and culture of seeking client voice in programing. Such as their mini documentary series staring their clients. But when they had an opportunityRead More
Foundation leaders believe to increase their impact they need to listen to the people they are supposed to serve. There is concern among US foundation leaders that this is not currently happening. These insights come from a report by Centre for Effective Philanthropy commissioned by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to mark its 50th birthday. It makes interesting reading – particularly where CEOs highlight the need to listen and learn both from the peopleRead More
The Mayday Trust totally overhauled the way it supports people experiencing homelessness after listening to feedback (See previous blog). The new way of working involves really listening to clients and to do this effectively involves addressing the multiple power dynamics in play between funders, charities and the people they serve. Pat McArdle Mayday Trust’s chief executive officer said: “We began to shift the power dynamics in all interactions to give people more power and choice.”Read More
Client feedback resulted in a radical redesign of how one homelessness charity offers all its services. Back in 2011, thanks to the tough funding climate in the UK the Mayday Trust was considering whether it should merge with another organization and decided to review its services. In an attempt to discover the charity’s unique offering they spoke to over 100 people experiencing homelessness and frontline staff inside and outside the organization. The results were compliedRead More
“We don’t see things as they are, we see things as WE are.” – Anais Nin once said. When this power of personal perspective is used to transform the world we call it “vision”. But it can also color the lens through which we see the world. In that case, we call this misperception “bias”. Observer bias is the reason evaluators and analysts cling to the clarity of numbers, sums, averages, and error bars. But statisticsRead More