Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Self Managed Work Groups

Learning is never static, but dynamic.  Yesterday's ideas of what makes us more efficient in the work places superseded by new ways.  Sometimes what was superseded can return under a new guise.  Taylor and his scientific management helped move us forward, but with the advent of new ways and technologies it became evident that 1) people are not cogs in the wheel of industry and 2) the key to productivity is worker satisfaction.  Once thought a waste of time self-managed work groups are now back in fashion.  Taking control of your destiny has a wonderful way of motivating you. Carter McNamara is one of my heroes.  He has put more information about organizational leadership on line than anyone I know.  Unlike so many other smart capable people he has made the content free and easy to access.  Take time to read about the history of self managed work groups at his site:   Carter McNamara 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

12 Questions

One of my favorite researcher/writers is Jim Collins.  His thirst for understanding and dedication to good research encourages my own journey towards understanding.  Organizations are not black boxes.  They can be understood.  But like many things in life the first step to understanding is asking the right questions.  Here are 12 questions that Collins says should be asked by every CEO or President of a company.  This is quoted from Inc magazine.  You can read the full article at: (click here).

Jim Collins's Plan for Growing Companies
Hedgehogs, Cannonballs, BHAGs, and Bullets
Jim Collins has spent a career probing the inner workings of great companies. Below, he boils 25 years of research into 12 questions that leaders must grapple with if they truly want to excel. Collins's advice: Be systematic. Every month, have your leadership team discuss one of the following questions. Repeat the process annually for five years.
1. Do we want to build a great company, and are we willing to do what it takes?
It begins by making a choice, with a clear understanding of what that choice entails.
2. Do we have the right people on the bus and in the key seats?
You need to decide whom you do and don't want to have with you. You should do that even before deciding exactly where you want to go.
3. What are the brutal facts?
You can't make good decisions if you don't confront the facts, especially the most troubling ones, those that could represent a serious threat to your survival. The key is to do it without losing faith.
4. What is our hedgehog: What can we be the best at, with an economic engine, and for which we have unbounded passion?
"The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing," wrote Isaiah Berlin. Your hedgehog combines your passion and your special talents with what you can make money doing.
5. What is our 20-Mile March, and are we hitting it?
That is, what is the specific performance goal you've made a commitment to meeting year in and year out, in good times and bad, and how are you doing with it?
6. Where should we place our big bets, based on empirical validation?
You should devote major resources to a new initiative (fire a cannonball) only if you already know it's likely to succeed. That means first conducting low-cost, low-risk tests on a range of possibilities (shooting bullets).
7. What are the core values and core purpose on which we want to build this enterprise for 100 years?
The challenge is not just to build a company that can endure, but to build one that is worthy of enduring.
8. What is our 15- to 25-year BHAG?
To build a great, enduring company, you need a Big Hairy Audacious Goal that is tangible, energizing, and highly focused and that people can understand immediately with little or no explanation.
9. What could kill us, and how can we protect our flanks?
Paranoia is productive when it helps you survive the inevitable bad surprises that will come along and avoid the disasters that they are capable of producing.
10. What should we stop doing, to increase our discipline and focus?
In creating a culture of discipline, it's as important to determine what you should not be doing as it is to know what you should be doing.
11. How can we increase our return on luck?
All companies experience both good and bad luck. It's what you do with your luck that counts. How can you get the most benefit from it either way, and how can you minimize any damage that a run of bad luck will cause?
12. Are we becoming a Level 5 leadership team and cultivating a Level 5 management culture?
The fifth, and highest, level of leadership builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will. Are you providing it?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Little Thanks

The following is advice from Giftworks.  They have some wonderful ideas to help you better connect with your donors.

Posted: 06 Jun 2012 10:25 AM PDT
So much of our work in development relies on the contribution of time and money from others.  It seems like there’s always another thank you letter to write!  And it feels like you’ve already written more than your quota for a lifetime!  Here are some ideas for keeping those thank you notes and letters fresh:

Remember that each thank you is a “personal” note to the individual volunteer from you (or someone in the organization the volunteer will recognize—the executive director, a board member, or the project’s head).  Although you may  incorporate common elements in all the letters, make sure when Sally receives the letter she feels it is a personal letter from you. (No mailing labels this time.)

Start out with a celebration of what’s been accomplished (not mailing 500 letters, but receiving $6,000 in gifts in response to the letters.) 
   Mission accomplished! Together we made it possible for 30 homeless students to attend a week-    long summer camp.  That’s ten more "happy campers" than we were able to send last year!

Move right into how the volunteer’s efforts made the achievement possible.
Without you, it never would have happened. By helping us provide sleeping bags, back packs, pillows, toiletries and towels—and pay tuition, you enabled our campers to come to camp with all of the supplies that every other camper is provided by their families.  These children would never otherwise have the opportunity to attend such a camp and make new friends and wonderful memories.  This is a week off the streets, away from the shelter, with nutritious meals, caring supervision, fun and games, all in a Christian atmosphere.

In fact, Jamie, a 12-year old from last year’s camp, wrote a thank you note saying “Thank you -- if you guys didn’t pay for me to go, I wouldn’t have had the time of my life!”

Show the connection between the project and your agency’ mission. 
In our work to improve the lives and futures of the homeless children in our community, the        Camp Donegal project is just one of the ways we create opportunities for the 300 families our programs touch each year.  This is truly a project that changes lives, and it depends on your generosity.

Close with thanks again, mentioning both the current experience and the ongoing support the volunteer offers throughout the year. 
We thank you for your help with Camp Donegal this summer and for your ongoing support of our work all year.

Add a P.S.  Invite a contact.
 I’d love to hear from you about your experience with the campers, or if you are interested in participating as a regular volunteer.  You can reach me directly at -------.
Try a few new ideas to inject life into your thank you letters!