Otherwise know as ... projects I'm currently involved in.
In this space, I'll provide real time updates to our progress, challenges and success.
Check back frequently for progress reports!
November - 2016
Jill Hardy Heath (President Heart of America Foundation) and I had an amazing lunch with Jamie Millard and Julie Cohen from Pollen!
We are collaborating on how we can expand Pollen's reach into corporate audiences. This will include programing, sponsorship, advocacy and funding. Our 1st step is to identify 2-3 "friendly" corporations that are open to a dialog around connecting community (Pollens mission).
We brainstormed a list which Jamie and Julie will bring to their board for approval of a pilot. From there, we are going to reach out to our targeted organizations, invite them to learn more about Pollen and work together on which of the current services might be of interest.
Really excited to use my network to extend the reach and impact of an amazing organization - Pollen! (pollen midwest.org).
December - 2016
Received a very gracious thank you note from Julie/Jamie. The board is loving the corporate sector approach, just need to figure out the right timing. Think a new years kick off and push as people are planning their diversity and inclusion events for the new year might be well timed. In the meantime, Pollen is considering an article on moving from the corporate to nonprofit sector. They are interested in my story, as it develops. That might be a fun way to share my learnings through this process and pay it back a little by helping others that are curious about this path.
Received the nicest hand written thank you note from Jamie and Julie. They took our ideas to their team and board and have decided that, while great ideas, these aren't their priority A areas of focus right now. They are going to slot this work for 2nd quarter and really kick off in the March/April board meeting. Makes total sense, it might even be better timing as we can connect into corporations once they know their strategic goals for the year, normally a 1st quarter activity.
Even though we are on "hold" for corporate engagement strategy, I've been talking up Pollen where ever I go. Its actually a great "give back" in networking meetings to get people connected to Pollen. Its also been my go to place for new role openings and events. Jamie and Julie continue to impress me and I'm excited to extend the conversation in April.
In the meantime, my work with The United Way is picking up. I'm a mentor in a pilot program - Leaders United and learned that my pilot nonprofit is PRISM, which is LITERALLY 1 mile down the street from my house. The mentor group has met and discussed goals/approach and we get to meet our cohort groups in March. Excited to work with this amazing group of talented leaders on a meaningful project for PRISM. Win Win Win.
The United Way Leaders United pilot is in full swing. The teams have attended 4 full days of leadership training, including taking the IDI AND have formed into cohorts. I'm really excited about my group. They are already engaging in email dialog asking hard questions and seeking to understand how they can help PRISM with their needs in the most comprehensive, efficient and culturally aware way. We have our 1st meeting at PRISM in a week and I can tell that Michelle (the ED) is impressed that the group is coming in with camaraderie, momentum and energy. The mentor group is jelling and its interesting to hear the questions and challenges they are getting from their cohorts as well. The projects are all extremely different so I'm interested to see how we can leverage each others approach and successes. This is going to be fun!
We had our 1st cohort meeting at PRISM and the team got a tour and inside scoop on the services they provide. They asked great questions and really got a feel for the need to balance mission with outcomes. Our task is to create a business plan that will help them move into their new (larger!) location in March of 2018 which will then lead to us developing a marketing and communications plan. If we have time, we'll also take a shot at a move plan (how to move an entire direct services organization from 1 site to another with a break in service to community - complicated!). We also came together for a full day training on the nonprofit sector at United Way. It was fun to hear nonprofit leaders share their stories, passions and advice. AND, for me, it was a great reiteration of what I'm learning. Yes, I think I'm finally "getting"it:) We have until the end of July to deliver on our project so its GO time!
Wow, where does the time go!?! The Prism cohort has been meeting on a weekly basis and is digging deep into market research, competitive research, data/financial research and ensuring that they are aligning with Prism's values and mission. It has been such a privilege to see this team come together to deliver a high quality business plan for Michelle and the Prism team. As in any project work, there is the messy middle. Thats where we are right now. Getting information, synethizing it, finding ways to use it, crafting a message and getting buy in from all parties. Its hard, detailed work but the team is learning a ton and getting excited to deliver an end product. Our share out is 7/19, just 1 month from today! Go Team Go!!
The team did it! They created a business plan, marketing plan and change management plan for Shop for Change at Prism. They did competitive visits, surveyed customers, interviewed customers, modeled data, created scenarios and developed a marketing and communication timeline that Prism can use as they get ready for their move to the new building. We presented our findings to the team last week which included volunteers, employees and board members. They were floored. Then the team shared their leanings and outcomes in the capstone event on Thursday. I am so proud of Stephen, Hadley, Peter and Ravyn. They capitalized on their experience, skills and knowledge, pushed themselves out of their comfort zones, delivered an incredible product and became friends and peer mentors in the process. Well done team!!
November - 2016
This week, Gloria Perez (Executive Director) invited to the new national headquarters of The Jeremiah Program to talk about their long term goal; moving from a local agency to a national impact.
Their staff (Wanda Walker and Ellen Muller) have impressive plans in place. I'm hoping to be able to support and consult with them using business architecture practices. This will insure that they have a 360 view of potential opportunities and roadblocks.
We are starting with a Business Model Canvas for 2 of their programs, will present our ideas to their leaders staff meeting (COLT) on 12/13 and (hopefully) get approval to engage in a deeper analysis including targeted change management.
Wanda will be my partner in crime and I'm excited to learn from her while supporting the growth of this innovative organization!
December - 2016
Wanda and I spent a few hours together crafting out a business model canvas that can help Jeremiah think about how to move from a local program committee to a national reach as it relates to services and specifications. I was able to tour the MPLS site and learned a ton about how Jeremiah is organized. Very impressive! Then, Wanda and I co-presented our findings and suggested that a next step is to craft a work plan for Wanda & her team based the business model canvas. I'm excited to hear the boards input and help them craft a plan that moves from aspiration to action! More to come in 2017 ....
The team loved our ideas! In fact, Wanda is running with it and doing some great stuff with her program committee. Jess (new COO) liked our work so much that she and I are going to have an ongoing, standing, weekly status. I'll be helping coach her, behind the scenes, as she builds up her new team, helps lead them through the change of becoming a national organization and assist her in the change management process. It'll be fun and cool way to be "on the inside" without causing any disruption to their team or process.
Jess and I have been working through her org structure and communication with her team. She has big plans for getting some rock solid operations in place (including IT governance and risk management) and we've been discussing how to lay this all out without overwhelming the team while getting them excited to be part of this process. We are exploring Trello as a project management and capacity planning tool and I'm excited to get her connected to some of my peers that may be able to help with more of the specifics needed (see comment on IT governance and risk management:)). Now we are combining forces with Wanda to bring the program goals into the operational goals. Love it when this all comes together. And, as a side note, my networking has paid off in that I've connected Jeremiah with CollegePossible and LSS. They are learning from each on the role of COO and the potential for services in Rochester. These are all going to be fun conversations!
Wow, the progress Jeremiah is making on their reorganization and approach as a national vs local nonprofit is astounding! Jess and Wanda have been mobilizing their teams (Ops and Programs) and we spent this month focused on bringing those efforts together to ensure consistently, timely and well timed (& well sequenced) communication. Since Wanda works directly with the local program committees and Jess leads the ED's, there is a risk that information will get misinterpreted, missed as well as potential for confusion for accountability and governance. The great news is that both Wanda and Jess see the risks and are willing to talk early and often on how their teams work together. It was fun to have them in a room together, ask questions, hear their solutions and land on an approach that leverages the strengths of their teams AND the org structure. So so fun to help this all come together!
I continue to meet with Jess on a weekly basis and it's so fun to hear her ideas for the organization and get to ask really deep questions. She has a lot on her plate; new organizational structure, new operation model, new direct reports, new local board contacts, new IT system ... Not to mention, there are gaps that they want to address like; developing a risk plan, getting firmer on IT governance, rolling out program audits and quality measures ... I love how thoughtful she is in her response and approach, she's really bringing the team along the journey. But, it's a steep climb and not without challenges. They need to start operating like a national organization and drive consistency and efficiency in order to best serve their families. This is hard for some of the more tenured staff who is used a lot of autonomy and individual program solving. They will get there but in the meantime I'm glad I can be a sounding board/safe place for her to test out her ideas. The next big hurdle is aligning the program expectations to their operating expectations. There is a program fidelity meeting in early May where they'll introduce the approach and accountabilities. They have invited me to share out the business canvas model so it'll be fun to start putting some faces with names.
Holy cow, lots of changes and progress at Jeremiah! The local Executive Director is leaving and so Jess/Gloria are busy working with the local and national board on a succession plan. They are considering a retained search and luckily we have Lucy (the current ED) until September. Wanda has also been busy launching her program fidelity committee. We have a kick off meeting in April that was a great level setting exercise. The committee members got to ask questions and it helped us understand their goals. Part of what I tried to do was set a vision for 'now, next, future' and how the committee would evolve as the program matured and as Jeremiah truly becomes a national organization. We have a series of working meetings over the summer to help solidify the role out plan and anchor on accountabilities at the local sites vs national office. Should be fun to watch this come to life!
Unfortunately missed the 1st meeting due to vacation and, needing to step back from this project work until I get my feet under me at work. But, its a great breaking point and I've offered to stay involved as a resource and help provide context. I'll be cheering them on through the summer!
November - 2016
Maureen Warren (VP of Family Services) as been an amazing mentor to me the last year. She's been a sounding board and advisor as I've researched my career transition into non-profit. She's an innovative thinker and moves (and thinks) fast. I love it!
Recently she hired a New Business Development leader, Laura Blue, who started two weeks ago.
In an effort to "pay it back" with Maureen, Laura and I will be crafting a business development approach that she can take to the LSS leadership team (Jodi Harpstead included!).
I love that Maureen is thinking creatively about how to expand LSS's reach and impact and it'll be fun to be a part of this journey.
December - 2016
Its as a been a crazy time for LSS; holidays, board meeting, new hires so ... Maureen and I are officially kicking off our engagement post the holidays. That will give Laura time to settle, understand the opportunities and then I can help provide tools/perspective on how to approach new business development. Actually looking forward to sharing what I've done at Jeremiah! I think that will be a good template to follow. In them meantime, Maureen continues to be a strong advocate for me/my search. THANK YOU Maureen!!
Maureen helped facilitate a meeting between Laura Blue (new business development) and Pat Thueson (CFO) today. Our focus is to understand how to do strategic planning for a market (Rochester/Olmstead) vs a line of service (foster care, disabilities, etc). Its a totally new way to think about growth/strategic planning and I'm so impressed with the work Laura has already done. She's only been in role 2 months and she's already met with/interviewed 25+ business leaders in LSS to understand their business models and growth plans. Thats a lot of data and insight! She and I are going to take a few of the lines of service, run them through a business model canvas and then see if we can't translate that into a location specific business model canvas. Excited to try this out and see what we learn!
Laura is kicking some serious butt. She's embracing the Business Canvas Model tool and has created a BCM for 4+ of the service areas. She's also led a workshop with the Sr Directors to help them understand the tool and start to think about how to apply it to their work. This will be great data for her as she starts to map out potential services in Rochester. I love working with her because we are riffing off each others ideas and she's a "data" geek. I've connected her with Wilder, Jeremiah and 100RC as potential new places to get information/data on Rochester. In fact, she presented an update to the senior leaders this week and sent me a note letting me know that they are loving our work. AND, she/Maureen have invited me to join them on a trip to Rochester for a nonprofit symposium. Cant wait!
The symposium was eye opening! 1st off, what a cool nonprofit community. They are engaged in deep dialog on how they can work together, leverage each others strengths and create economies of scale. Everything from pooling buying resources for supplies to health insurance for their staff. The session was facilitated by The Alliance for Families and Communities and it was incredibly well done. Rochester is growing SO fast and with that comes the risk of the bar bell effect (as the high end medical business grows, so does service labor needs which attracts low wage earners). The nonprofits are trying to get ahead of this growth and be preventative in delivering services (vs reactive once an issue arises). It gave us a ton of things to think about as LSS looks to move into Rochester more visibly. For one, we are going in with an organic approach; when asked, when we can partner and when we can build - together - on current momentum. This probably mean we aren't going to have a fancy strategic roadmap but rather a test, learn and iterate approach. I think this makes sense given the speed of growth and changing demographic. However, that is hard for process types like Laura and I, we both want a 'plan' but can both see the value in this approach. Of course, Maureen loves this approach as she's the master of test, learn, iterate. Both Laura and I continue to learn from her, its challenging and rewarding.
The work that Laura has done in Rochester as gotten her so many accolades that they are expanding her scope and starting to also look into Duluth! In Rochester, she has gotten a ton of traction with Financial Services, including a $50k matching grant! In terms of services, currently they have Senior Companions, Youth Homelessness and Ways to Give programs running in Rochester. Up next? Financial Services, Veteran Services and Therapeutic Foster Care. On the horizon is Host Homes for people with disabilities. All in all I'd say she's made some amazing progress! Now she's considering what should be her areas of focus and priorities as new business development? Does she ... continue with the work in Rochester? expand the Rochester model to other regions? look for ways to leverage services across LSS to expand reach? All great questions and I'm helping her think through how to use her internal advocates and partners to cull out those answers. More to come ....
My engagement with LSS has changed slightly and now its more of a peer learning relationship. Laura and I are in the same cohort for a IDEO/Accumen Human Centered Design training. The training is an online 7 week course the mixes online videos, reading, research with real world case studies, networking and program creation. Our cohort (5 amazing women leaders) meet at my house once a week for 2 1/2 hours to share our ideas and work the program. Its challenging how I think about design and I love the growth mindset approach that is built into the philosophy of human centered design. Its all about asking questions, observing from all angles, prototyping, testing, learning and iterating. We have 2 weeks left in the course and then we can all say that we are human center design certified. So so cool!!
Well, we did it! Holy cow did that push me out of my comfort zone! Its all about iteration, voice of the customer, trying and failing and moving really fast. It was so fun to learn along with that amazing group of women (Maggie, Cecilia, Grayce and Laura). We learned from each other and everyone really gave it their all. I highly recommend this course. Its a great mix of online, project/team work and reading/research and ... boy does it go by fast! I am now officially certified in Human Centered Design. Wow!