Backbone Organizations and Collective Impact

From FSG Knowledge Exchange:

“Close readers of FSG’s writing on collective impact will notice that our current understanding of the role of backbone organizations is not exactly the same as it was in January 2012. When the Stanford Social Innovation Review published Channeling Change: Making Collective Impact Work, our “research confirmed that” backbone organizations “serve six essential functions: providing overall strategic direction, facilitating dialogue between partners, managing data collection and analysis, handling communications, coordinating community outreach, and mobilizing funding.”

Even this definition was a refinement of what we wrote about backbone organizations the previous year.”

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Leading from the Middle: Bringing out the Best in Everyone

From Creating the Future:

“When it comes to leading social change efforts, perhaps the most powerful and least recognized form of leadership is Leading from the Middle – bringing out the best in others, so that they can realize and step into their own potential to create change.

Unlike top-down leadership, Leadership from the Middle is not a function of the position someone holds. It is instead a function of showing someone his or her best self, and creating a favorable environment in which they can be that self. It is the power of all those “best selves” working together that makes Leading from the Middle a quiet force for change.  Which means we can all be leaders.”

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The Merger Option

From NPQ:

“For decades, there has been a persistent call by institutional funders for more mergers among nonprofits, but that drumbeat has been largely ignored. Is it any wonder? The call is not exactly positive when cast in the context of the above questions. There is nothing there to excite the individual nonprofit to action—no suggestion of reach and power and influence to be gained. Rather, the message suggests that heretofore neglected inefficiencies on the part of nonprofits can be addressed with the mere dissolution of their hard-won identity.

In the context of such a stultifying approach, many nonprofit leaders ignore the voices calling for mergers as an uninformed siren call. Why should nonprofits listen? The message minimizes the complexities of programming and community ownership/stewardship issues.

But what if the whole proposition were lighted differently to focus on the potential benefits in terms of power, agility, influence, and effectiveness? Might the conversation be more attractive to nonprofit boards? Appealing to nonprofits in a way that reflects the real reasons why nonprofits merge might, in fact, be a better approach, but we know that many mergers fail in the for-profit sphere. What can we hold up as potential outcomes?”

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Opinon: We Approach Diversity the Wrong Way

From the HBR:

“Is dicing the workforce into pre-set categories going to encourage working together? If we go that route, we’ll have to expand our diversity conferences by several days as we add sessions that address the unique needs of gay Asian people, physically challenged African-American workers, and, lest anyone be forgotten, the grievously under-served gay boomer Pacific Islander demographic.

…although in today’s business world we excel at managing overt, data-driven problems — we analyze, forecast, assess, and solve multi-layered problems like nobody’s business — we don’t know how to manage these more primal instincts. But it’s high time we recognize human topics (like talking about our differences) for what they are — business topics.”

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Once upon a time: The importance of storytelling in leadership

From FootDown:

“… the importance of storytelling in leadership has often been overlooked in contemporary leadership literature. Throughout history, leaders, in sport and business, have used storytelling as a powerful motivational tool, particularly during times of uncertainty or in response to crises. The art of storytelling is still, despite recent advances in communication technologies, an essential skill for leaders.”

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Building Trust Across Sectors

From the Philanthropy Journal:

“Community-wide problems typically require solutions that include participants representing a broad spectrum of the community.  Nonprofits working with government and business can draw on a broad base of resources and experts.  In practice, however, the very diversity that should help to generate innovative solutions often undermines cross-sector inter-organizational networks, especially when the network members do not trust one another. 

Trust is “the willingness of a party to be vulnerable to the actions of another party based on the expectation that the other will perform a particular action important to the trustor, irrespective of the ability to monitor or control that other party” as defined by R. C. Mayer and his colleagues.”

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Video: Dare to Disagree

From TED:

” Most people instinctively avoid conflict, but as Margaret Heffernan shows us, good disagreement is central to progress. She illustrates (sometimes counterintuitively) how the best partners aren’t echo chambers — and how great research teams, relationships and businesses allow people to deeply disagree.”

Click here to view video – approx. 13 mins

Case Study: Nonprofits Form Co-Op to Confront new Funding Climate

From the HR Council:

“This case study will be of interest to other organizations that are looking for ways to collaborate, and to funders who want to encourage funded agencies to work together more effectively.

“..It was in this context that funding organizations, frustrated by overlapping programs, service gaps, “turf battles,” and a lack of co-ordination in the not-for-profit sector, began to encourage and, in some instances, demand closer collaboration among nonprofit organizations seeking new or continued funding. In this changed climate, nonprofits found themselves challenged to look beyond communication, cooperation, and coordination to build sustainable, long-term collaborative partnerships.  To address this funding “climate change,” five nonprofit, charitable agencies that provide a wide range of services to various client groups, including children and their families, women, pre-teens, youth and adults in the Williams Lake area, began meeting in 2002 to explore new ways of working together. After considering a number of legal structures, including partnerships, corporations and another not-for-profit, they decided on a co-op model.”

Click here to read full article - 7 pages in pdf

Webinar Recording: Being a Leader

From the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute:

“Video Webinar REPLAY of  BEING a Leader LIVE! global conversation. It captures the highlights from the experience of 380+ leaders and aspiring leaders from over 30 countries. To complement the video replay, you’ll also find a complete set of handouts and other resources to expand your learning experience:

Click here to view video recording of webinar – approx 55 mins

Enablers Do the Right Stuff

From NPQ:

“If you want to be a really good professional—a development officer, or an executive director—you have to be a really, really good enabler….Enabling is the process of empowering others. Enabling means giving people the wherewithal, opportunity, and adequate power to act. Synonyms for enabling include investing, endowing, and authorizing. Synonyms for power include ability, influence, capability, and authority. When you empower someone, you distribute and share your own power. Power shared is power multiplied.

And here’s what I describe as “Enabling Function #6:” Provide direction and resources. Explain why, not just how. Identify and remove barriers. Help develop skills.”

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