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Daily Nuggets: A For Impact Blog

In an interview, think: throwing darts


This is a simple concept I’ve used a lot the coaching of others.

I often watch people in an interview, or a sales call, ramble on in response to a question. In many cases, it’s as though they’re doing the thinking WHILE they’re talking.. and the model I have in my head is that of exploding fireworks. They start talking about one thing, the FIND a point and then explode into a new direction around that point… and then another direction… and so on.

Think instead about the mental image of throwing a dart to answer the question.

Stop. Think about what point you want to make. Throw the dart. Then stop talking.

Responsive to Change… Leading Change


“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” – Charles Darwin

The same is true of organizations. I read somewhere that the common element of the longest surviving companies in the world was not business model, sector, or size… it that they were great learning organizations.

“Nothing endures but change.” – Heraclitus

The role of leadership is not to prevent the system from falling apart. On the contrary, its role is to lead change that causes the system to fall apart and then to reintegrate into a new whole.” – Ichak Adizes

Drucker on Action Plans


“Without an action plan the executive becomes a prisoner of events.” – Peter Drucker

This is from a timeless Drucker article that appeared in HBR 2004, “What Makes an Effective Executive”.

“What made [leaders] effective is that they followed the same eight practices:

  • They asked, “What needs to be done?”
  • They asked, “What is right for the enterprise?”
  • They developed action plans.
  • They took responsibility for decisions.
  • They took responsibility for communicating.
  • They were focused on opportunities rather than problems.
  • They ran productive meetings.
  • They thought and said “we” rather than “I.””

The Difference Between Design Problems and Engineering Problems


The difference between design problems and engineering problems.

I’m reading Designing your Life and this nugget is powerful + applicable in so many ways.

“There’s a difference between design problems and engineering problems… engineering is a good approach to solving a problem when you can get a great deal of data and you’re sure there is one best solution…

[For design problems] there is no precedent to design toward, there is no fixed or predetermined outcome; there are plenty of ideas floating around…

When you have a desired outcome (a truly portable laptop computer, a sexy-looking sports car, or a well-designed life) but no clear solution in sight, that’s when you brainstorm, try crazy stuff, improvise, and keep “building your way forward” until you come up with something that works. You know it when you see it…”

Designing your STORY, MESSAGING, TEAM!!!! These are all DESIGN problems, not engineering problems. As such, they require that we try things to see what works.

There’s more to it, though… it means we also need to be communicating that these are design problems and not engineering problems. This language helps other participants in the process understand there is no clear solution in sight… that we’ll be ‘trying crazy stuff’… and we’ll keep ‘building our way forward’ until we come up with something that works!

2:1 Rule for Deliberate Dialogue


I was recently coaching a brilliant scientist. She is world-renowned for her research and was having no problem getting visits. I joined her on a visit.

Despite our plan, she spoke for 20 solid minutes before giving the prospect a chance to engage in some form of dialogue.

Everything she said was good. The only challenge is that it was shutting out the other person. We were – most certainly – skipping right past a host of connections.

On every visit, the prospects were wow’d but not maximized.

To change this, we started to focus on the practice of creating DELIBERATE DIALOGUE.

Deliberate dialogue is the act of intentionally
stopping to create dialogue.

For my scientist friend, we had to be even more specific. The coaching was this:

For every two minutes of ‘presenting’, you should STOP and ask a quick question.

We called this the 2:1 RULE using DELIBERATE DIALOGUE.

This is about INTENTIONALITY!!!

Some people do this very effectively:

I’ve been talking for a few minutes so I want to stop and then see if this is making sense.

Or simply: Does this make sense?

Or, you can set it up: I will talk for a few minutes and pause to see if we’re tracking.

It doesn’t have to be scripted. Most of the time the ‘talker’ just needs to stop long enough for the other person to jump in.

If you’re struggling to ENGAGE with someone else, or
If YOU end up doing all the talking,
be DELIBERATE in creating dialogue.

The benefits are numerous:

  • If you’ve lost them, then it’s not by much.
  • If there is an on-ramp for the other person, it lets him or her catch it.
  • You can listen when the other person is talking.
  • When we talk, we become fully engaged. (So let the other person talk.)
  • Feedback. Simple.

For the scientist, it was a game-changer.

Administrative Types and Entrepreneurial Types


A friend and leader introduced me to the work and thinking of Ichak Adizes, Ph. D.

Through extensive and credible work with corporate leaders, Dr. Adizes has developed an incredible framework to diagnose and manage the lifecycle of an organization. I’m reading Managing Corporate Lifecycles and have to stop to make about six notes on each page. The insights are profound, practical, and clear!!! I dare say his thinking is… Drucker-like!

Here’s just one little nugget – distinguishing ‘Administrative Types’ and ‘Entrepreneurial Types’.

The entrepreneurial type asks, “What else can we do?”

The administrative type asks, “What less can we do?”

A Dashboard to Measure and Manage Fundraising (Sales)


We’re often asked about ways to MEASURE and MANAGE the fundraising (read: sales) function of organizations. Here is the simple sales dashboard we use: The For Impact Green Sheet.

It measures ACTIVITY and PRODUCTIVITY – Visits. Asks. Results.

“Spend more time with better prospects.” – Brian Tracy

Here are three instances in which we use the For Impact Green Sheet with clients:

  • When we’re building a Sales Model/Team – to create alignment and a culture of philanthropy.The Green Sheet becomes a clear illustration of what matters. People start asking questions like, “How do we get more visits?” Or, “Why are we doing another mail appeal? Will it help us identify more leads?”
  • For Campaign Management.In addition to broad campaign goals, the sales dashboard is a view into all elements of a comprehensive campaign. See Today/Tomorrow/Forever Funding Model.
  • To coach and develop talent!This is an important note for ‘sales managers’ and ‘sales leaders.’ We need this dashboard (or something similar) not only for accountability, but to effectively COACH and DEVELOP talent. In fact, you really need these three things:
    • A Master Prospect List /Action Plan: You need to know the priority prospects.
    • The For Impact Green Sheet.
    • Call Memos. It’s challenging to coach someone without knowing what actually happened on a visit.

Links to definitions:

Designing Context


For the past few years I’ve been on big kick around CONTEXT.

Strategy, sales, leadership, communication or coaching is VERY responsive to CONTEXT. Most people nod in agreement when I make this point… but think about the last time you were in a strategy session (of any kind!!!) where you took a deliberate time-out to examine CONTEXT.

I just received the latest issue of Rotman Management from the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. This magazine is – hands down – my favorite for ‘design-thinking’.

This issues is dedicated to changing behavior! Karen Christensen, the editor writes, “At it’s core, every organization is in the same business: changing behavior. For-profit companies try to saw consumers to buy their products; governments try to convince citizens to pay their taxes on time; and an NGO might want to encourage families to sign up for tuition support for their children.”

Buried in the first article is this little nugget about DESIGNING CONTEXT! “We know from Psychology that context influences choice, it should be possible to design contexts to steer choices to a desired outcome.”

Great sales designs the CONTEXT through PREDISPOSITION, the FLOW of the VISIT, and TEAM SELLING (that is, determining the context of the team that will engage with the prospect.)

Commit to Sales – Video Nugget


We intentionally use the the word ‘SALES’ for these reasons:

  • As a contrast to ‘marketing’
    So much of traditional fundraising is about building relationships, donor acquisition, stewardship, or awareness. But if you’re doing ‘that event’ to BUILD relationships then it begs the question, what are you doing to MAXIMIZE relationships?
  • To emphasize Sales as a ‘world of knowledge’“You’re in sales, get over it!” – Tom Suddes

    Once we accept, embrace and SEEK ‘sales’ it opens a world of professional development, learning, and systems.

  • To emphasize the importance of a professional, face-to-face presentation!
    A commitment to sales requires a process, a presentation, follow up and much more!

If you’re someone that says, “Sales is not for me!” here is a definition we hope will entice you to stick around:

“Sales is not a business transaction. It is first and foremost the forging of the human connection.” – Bob Burg

Click here to view video (5:48)

If an organization were TRULY COMMITTED TO SALES we would see these key attributes:

  • (Focus on) PROSPECTS. Prospects. Drive. Everything.There would be no silos. We wouldn’t organize according to events, planned giving, annual fund – We would organize around prospects! (Think: Prospect portfolios and assigned Relationship Managers.)

    97/3!!! 97% of the funds come from 3% of your prospects! We would FOCUS on the 3%!

    Salespeople would be OUT OF THE OFFICE (visiting with prospects).

  • PROCESS! The team would commit to a SALES PROCESS. That process would focus on prospect strategy and making visits and asks. It would not be designed around events, direct mail, and shotgunning grant applications.
  • TEAM!The team would use TEAM SELLING. Adding to the previous points (about PROSPECTS and PROCESS) the team would be structured around helping Salespeople make visits and asks.
  • MATH! The team would KNOW THE MATH.It would have goals, plans, and metrics. (We’ll share more on metrics and a ‘sales dashboard’ in next week’s W.O.W. Email.)
  • ATTITUDE!And perhaps the most important attribute is attitude. You can coach around everything else but you can’t coach a bad attitude. There is no room for Eeyore on the Sales Team.

Speaking at AFP International Fundraising Conference


Kerry and I are spending time this week at the AFP’s International Fundraising Conference in San Francisco. If you’re here, come find us! We delivered a session this am: BE FOR IMPACT! It was great to share the point of view, napkins, some stories about Walt Disney and more!

Here are the slides!