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Psychology of Change and Implications for Nonprofits

Dan Gilbert gave a very popular TED talk: “The Psychology of Our Future”

He cites studies of how much people think they changed over the past 10 years, and how much they will change in the coming 10 years.

The findings are interesting: We actually change (including who is our best friend, what is our favorite music, what issues and nonprofits were/will be important to us) much more than we believe we will.

The psychology of this phenomenon is important to grasp when talking to clients of our nonprofit and supporters of our nonprofit. Change happens. And will continue to happen. Are we prepared at our organization to deal with what comes our way?

Nonprofit organizations go through strategic planning exercises. And then they think they are done. Planning is great at building a sense of shared values among a board and staff. But if we don’t also determine how we’ll implement the changes we just agreed to. And recognize that the constant going forward will be change…we won’t be ready to deal with what the future has in store for us.

Check out the link to the Dan Gilbert video. Think how that applies to you. And to your organization. And next board meeting, let’s consider the issue and how we can deal with life going forward.

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Meeting the Challenge of Change: Leadership

Nonprofit Organization leaders know that a measure of their success is their flexibility and adaptability. Or, in other words: The constant in nonprofit governance and management is change.

Funders (particularly grantmakers) are interested in knowing, before they will award a grant, in the capacity of the particular nonprofit to roll with changes in its environment. What are some indicators of that capacity?

Diversity in Leadership. Does the board and staff of this nonprofit reflect the community it serves? Is the Board packed with baby boomers? Or are there Gen X and Gen Y representatives in governance as well as staff positions?

Training in Leadership. Are board and staff leaders provided education and training opportunities to learn about current trends in their environment? Is there evidence that the group is networked in the community and in organizations that have expertise needed by this nonprofit?

Customer Focused Leadership?Is there evidence that leaders at this nonprofit communicate comfortably and frequently with the clients/customers they are charged to serve? Do leaders know how to listen, or are they always in broadcast mode?

It’s in some ways, application of the “bend-don’t-break” philosophy from sports convention to the Third Sector.

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In Ho Chi Minh City Talking Teams

First of my two classes in Northeastern University’s Leadership program in cooperation with International University. Wrapping up this and next week with Leading Teams class. Yesterday our focus was virtual teams. Today it was effective performance review systems to apply to teams. Teams, Teams, Teams. Spam, Spam, Spam. There are so many ways you can serve it. We work to improve keeping in mind Katzenback and Wisdom of Teams. As the economy grows and diversifies in Vietnam, young up-and-comers want an edge to help make their place in the development of their country. The enthusiasm is palpable.

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Clinton Global Initiative: Students Convene for Some Problem-Solving

Bill Clinton and his Foundation will convene a university-student gathering at Arizona State University, Tempe Arizona March 21 – 23 to do some heavy lifting on global problems that need fresh solutions.

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Haven From Hunger Gets Strategic

On Friday, March 14 at 8:00 in the morning a room full of community leaders will gather to help set the strategic direction for Haven From Hunger.

Among Massachusetts North Shore community service agencies, Haven From Hunger is among the leaders in serving the poor. Literally and figuratively. Four nights a week at the Haven HQ on Wallis Street in Peabody, staff and volunteers serve in the vicinity of forty people a hot meal. And along with the meal, a chance to gather with others, have some conversation, and learn that there are people in this community who care.

In Peabody, Salem and Lynnfield The Haven operates food pantries providing emergency food to those who need it. Whose Food Stamps (SNAP) run out at the end of the month, who just got laid off, or who just find themselves on a day or a week or more…down on their luck.

The need in these communities far outstrip The Haven’s current capacity to serve. So it’s time for some action to grow the program, reach more people.

Because people should not have to go to bed hungry at night.

And beyond the tangible reality of the food, there’s the intangible need to know that there are people in the community who want to help. And WILL help.

If you’re a reader of this blog and you happen to be in the vicinity of Peabody Mass early this Friday morning, please let me know by responding to and I’ll be sure there’s a place for you at breakfast Friday when we help determine best direction for this great nonprofit in serving its clientele.

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