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Daily Nuggets: A For Impact Blog

Purpose Clarity


This month’s print edition of HBR makes mention of a new study supporting ‘the purpose-profit’ connection (p32).  The study looks at the relationship between strong purpose and public company financial performance. I believe the insights apply to all organizations – That is, any organization with a strong purpose will see increased performance.

The study finds there is a strong link between PURPOSE and PERFORMANCE (or, in my adjusted language, IMPACT). Researchers make a distinction in two types of high purpose organizations. The first is what it calls ‘high camaraderie’ where everyone simply has a sense that they are doing something great, TOGETHER. The second type of purpose is ‘high clarity’ from management. This is noted as the type where managers excel at translating purpose into action.

The statistically significant performance bump was only found with organizations that have ‘purpose clarity.’

As a leader, think not just about PURPOSE, but ‘PURPOSE CLARITY.’  To help you with this, I would bridge some of the findings of the research with some of the For Impact teaching. Think about PURPOSE as an anchor for your STORY. And, by story, I don’t mean a narrative with a beginning-middle-end. I mean how you FRAME the organization.

A GREAT STORY…

  • Is anchored in hope-filled purpose (Start with WHY!)
  • Simplifies WHAT you do.
  • Serves as a litmus for action.

Some of the writing in the research study further supports thinking about placing PURPOSE inside of STORY.  “The company’s primary purpose – the real one, which isn’t necessarily the one written in the official documents or etched in the wall plaques – [that] guides its actions and decisions.”

———————–
Gartenberg, Claudine Madras and Prat, Andrea and Serafeim, George, Corporate Purpose and Financial Performance (June 30, 2016). Columbia Business School Research Paper No. 16-69. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2840005

Zooming Out to Lead


Sir Alex Ferguson managed Manchester United for over 25 years, leading the club to 13 English Premier League Titles. 

In his book, Leading: Learning from Life and My Years at Manchester United, Sir Alex tells a story about his own tipping point as a leader.  

Prior to his post at Manchester United, he managed Aberdeen, a Scottish Football Club. He learned about the importance of ZOOMING OUT to lead. My emphasis in bold…

Watching is (an) underrated (leadership) activity…it costs nothing. For me there are two forms of observation: the first is on the detail and the second is on the big picture. Until I was managing Aberdeen and hired Archie Knox as my assistant manager, I had not appreciated the difference between watching for the tiny particulars while also trying to understand the broader landscape. Shortly after he arrived at Aberdeen, Archie sat me down and asked me why I had hired him. The question perplexed me, until he explained that he had nothing to do since I insisted on doing everything. He was very insistent… Archie told me that I shouldn’t be conducting the training sessions but, instead, should be on the sidelines watching and supervising. I wasn’t sure that I should follow this advice because I thought it would hamper my control of the sessions. But when I told Archie I wanted to mull over his advice, he was insistent. So, somewhat reluctantly, I bowed to his wishes and, though it took me a bit of time to understand you can see a lot more when you are not in the thick of things, it was the most important decision I ever made about the way I managed and led. When you are a step removed from the fray, you see things that come as surprises– and it is important to allow yourself to be surprised. If you are in the middle of a training session with a whistle in your mouth, your entire focus is on the ball. When I stepped back and watched from the sidelines, my field of view was widened and I could absorb the whole session, as well as pick up on players’ moods, energy and habits. This was one of the most valuable lessons of my career and I’m glad that I received it more than 30 years ago. Archie’s observation was the making of me.

As a player I had tried to do both– paying attention to the ball at my feet whilst being aware of what was happening elsewhere on the field. But until Archie gave me a finger wagging, I had not really understood that, as a manager, I was in danger of losing myself to the details. It only took me a handful of days to understand the merit of Archie’s point, and from that moment I was always in a position to be able to zoom in to see the detail and zoom out to see the whole picture.

Stepping back to watch from the sidelines is not natural (at least not to me!) This story has powerful leadership insights and implications for all of us.

Ferguson, Alex; Moritz, Michael (2015-10-06). Leading: Learning from Life and My Years at Manchester United (p. 18). Hachette Books. Kindle Edition.

The Real Estate Questions You Need To Answer – At Altitude


In designing, managing and leading hundreds of ‘building campaigns’, these are questions we ask – at altitude:

30,000’ WHY?
VISION

  • Are we in the Re-Construction Biz or the Impact Biz?
  • What is the Purpose(s) of the ‘Space(s)’?
  • How does it relate to our Vision?
  • Have we dealt with the ‘Footprint’ & ‘Bubbles’ before Wall Coverings & FFE?
  • Do our Financial Goals match our Constituent’s Capacity?
  • Is this about ‘Ownership’ or ‘Control’?
  • How do we Share this Story (of Impact) vs. ‘Sell Recognition/Naming Rights?’
  • Have we explored Partnerships?  Multi-Use Facilities?  24/7?

14,000’ WHAT?
STRATEGY

  • Have we engaged all stakeholder groups to validate that we have the best solutions/plan?
  • Are there other cheaper and/or more creative real estate solutions to achieve our goal? If so, can we address why we’re not pursuing?
  • Have we looked at all Creative Financing Opportunities?
    • Debt/Mortgage?
    • Bonds?
    • Lease?
  • Are we telling the architects and planners what we want and need, what we can afford, how it fits… or are they telling us?
    • Cost per sq. ft. needs to fit our situation
    • Entire Project/Cost must enable our Case for Support

3’ HOW?
EXECUTION

  • Can this be divided into phases? (Both Building & Funding)
  • Can we take 3 to 5 Year Commitments? Do we need Bridge Financing or a Construction Loan?
  • Have we made Everything A Project? (within the Big Initiative)
  • Are there Projects (In-Kind Opportunities) to Maximize Gifts?

In sharing this, I also want to encourage leaders and readers to engage with us EARLY in the formative stages of a building project or strategy. By asking the right questions up front you can save time and money – but it’s not just about that – It’s about identifying the right solution and needs to help you with your impact!

The Vision Must Live In One Person’s Head


The vision for your organization must live in one person’s head.

The vision can’t sit with a committee. Many can contribute to the building of a clear vision but, there must be one person that holds that vision. This ultimate vision keeper could be the CEO or it could be the Board Chair.

We use this nugget often as the first step toward strategic clarity – many leaders don’t realize they’re trying to juggle or navigate 3-4 visions.

The ultimate vision keeper is often trying to make room for others – inviting them to contribute to the vision. This can be great, so long as it’s clear that there will be one person that ultimately owns the vision.

Change Agents Almost Always Under Communicate the Vision


As a leader the vision makes the most sense to you because it lives in your head.  You probably have the most complete view of the operation, you spend the most time thinking about the vision, and feel like you’re constantly communicating that vision.

And yet, that vision is likely under communicated! Here is a great excerpt from Adam Grant’s Originals about how change agents under communicate their vision:

“When Harvard professor John Kotter studied change agents years ago, he found that they typically under communicated their visions by a factor of ten. On average, they spoke about the direction of the change ten times less often than their stakeholders needed to hear it. In one three-month period, employees might be exposed to 2.3 million words and numbers. On average during that period, the vision for change was expressed in only 13,400 words and numbers: a 30-minute speech, an hour-long meeting, a briefing, and a memo. Since more than 99 percent of the communication that employees encounter during those three months does not concern the vision, how can they be expected to understand it, let alone internalize it? The change agents don’t realize this, because they’re up to their ears in information about their vision.”

The vision for you is a full-length motion picture in which you’re the writer, producer, director — surely worth millions of words.  But likely, for the rest of your team, the vision is a word-cloud they heard on Tuesday.

In a nutshell: The vision can’t be over-communicated!

 

On Altitude: For Visits and Presentations


A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10 weeks, we are going to use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done!

This week’s theme is: Create a simple, powerful PRESENTATION and ENGAGEMENT TOOL.

Here is a deeper explanation of the power of ALTITUDE in designing a presentation or on a visit:

  • Get ‘buy-in’ at the highest level. As you make the Case for Support, the prospect or potential investor needs to understand and acknowledge their acceptance of the VISION and PRIORITIES. Sometimes this is a “You had me at hello” moment. Other times, it may take the entire first visit to get them to understand and agree that this is an important CAUSE and CASE. Regardless, it doesn’t make any sense to talk about PRIORITIES or the PLAN or HOW THEY CAN HELP if they don’t ‘get it’ at the highest level!
  • No Dissent on Descent. There should be no ‘dissent’ on the descent! Think of this as the opposite of getting the ‘bends’. If a diver ascends too quickly, they get a case of the bends. It’s painful and many times life-threatening. During a presentation, the prospect can get the ‘reverse-bends’ if you descend too rapidly, “Hello. Thanks for seeing me. Here’s our campaign. Can you give $100,000?”
  • Always go (back) up. When in doubt ALWAYS GO BACK UP TO 30,000’! The Vision, The Message, The Purpose.
  • ‘Permission to Proceed.’ We have actually incorporated this specific terminology into every presentation. “It seems like you’re fully engaged with both our Mission and our Message. Would it be okay (permission to proceed) to go deeper and talk about our Strategic Priorities and our Plan to make all this happen?”
  • Altitude is not always top-down or hierarchical. You can ‘enter’ at any level. You can focus on any level. You can travel up and down and even side to side when you’re using an Engagement Tool.

 

Use the Rule of 3 to Simplify Your Priorities at 14,000’


A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10 weeks, we are going to use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done!

This week’s theme is SIMPLIFY YOUR MESSAGE.

Our most used frameworks is the Altitude Framework – Used to order thinking, communications, and storylines; to develop Engagement Tools; and, to think through the Flow of a Visit.

This framework is used for everything from visits to strategy sessions to dealing with objections. However, it’s best use is COMMUNICATION and SIMPLIFICATION of your message.

14,000’ is the view and perspective from the ‘top of the mountain.’ (In the Rockies, they’re called ‘fourteeners.’) At this altitude, the air is thinner and the raptors soar. If 30,000’ is about vision, 14,000’ is about focus. A place to talk about Business Models and Strategy, but most importantly, a place to finding clarity around Priorities.

One of our favorite devices for simplifying your message at 14,000’ is The Rule of 3.

The Rule of 3 is a magical rule for SIMPLICITY.

As human beings, we’re wired to understand, internalize, and remember threes. Politicians know this, as does the media. Neuroscience tells us that the brain actually finds harmony in threes.

One is lonely (no choice.)

Two creates an either/or conflict. (Sophie’s Choice, anyone?)

Not only is Three just right (thank you, Goldilocks) but anything more than three is too complex!

Barry Schwartz’s The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less tells us stories of engagement DECREASING proportionate to MORE choice.

Look around:

Three-Act Plays. The first act sets up the story, the second act creates conflict, and the third act is the resolution.

The Holy Trinity.

Pyramids. An ancient symbol for strength.

Think BIG! Build SIMPLE! Act NOW! (Can you feel the cadence?!?!)

Today. Tomorrow. Forever.

You can use the Rule of 3 to communicate your biggest Priorities at 14,000’. For example, if you have 7 programs, you need to package those into 3 priorities, such as:

People, Programs, Places
Research, Education, Service
Meals, Homes, Health & Wellness Programs
Read-Aloud Programs, Family Literacy, Teen Intervention

Action: Take the time to write out everything you do on one or two sheets of paper. Then use the attached trigger list to simplify your programs and funding needs into 3 Priorities.

And next time you’re with a prospect you can say, “Over the next 1,000 days we’re focused on these 3 Priorities, which one are you most interested in?”

Start With The Why


A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10 weeks, we are going to use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done! This week’s theme is SIMPLIFY YOUR MESSAGE.

Start with the Why is our number one For Impact Guiding Principle.

I came across a brilliant thinker, Simon Sinek, who has a great book, Start With Why, a powerful Ted Video, and an amazing story around the power of ‘WHY.’

The essence of his message:

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

He calls it the ‘Golden Circle’.

Mediocre organizations and leaders always sell ‘outside-in’: talking about WHAT, then HOW (features, benefits), and never even getting to the WHY.

Great leaders sell ‘inside-out’ – leading with the WHY.

Sinek’s Golden Circle is our ALTITUDE FRAMEWORK… with research!

Starting with Why has many implications in our For Impact world; here’s a few:

A vocabulary challenge to the sector. What prospects hear (often times) is “We need money to meet our annual funding goal” or “Buy a table at our gala.” These messages have no WHY, but what your prospects want to do is save, change and impact lives.

Selling happens at 30,000’. The number one question of every investor is, “Why do you exist?” If the person you are talking to doesn’t care about your WHY, it’s very hard to talk to her about the what and the how. Conversely, if your WHY is his number one priority, you can ask on the proverbial ‘first date.’

There are 1.5M nonprofits in the U.S. You must be able to talk about your raison d’etre (reason for existence); otherwise, you just ‘exist to exist.’

Start the New Year on a “HIGH”


A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10 weeks, we are going to use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done!

This week’s theme is SIMPLIFY YOUR MESSAGE.

Our most used frameworks is the Altitude Framework – Used to order thinking, communications, and storylines; to develop Engagement Tools; and, to think through the Flow of a Visit.

This framework is used for everything from visits to strategy sessions to dealing with objections. However, it’s best use is COMMUNICATION and SIMPLIFICATION of your message.

30,000′ is an airplane’s cruising altitude – plenty of blue sky, a great view, etc. At 30,000′, our brain even seems to work better!

At this altitude, it’s all about your vision, your aspirations, your raison d’etre. It’s a place to think and talk about your mission, your meaning, your values.

At 30,000’ leaders and visionaries have the ability to see the horizon. Obviously, you can’t do that from 3’. At 30,000’ you can see the curve of the earth, the rising and setting of the sun. The perspective at 30,000’ is unmatched. This is where you can think about making a “dent in the universe” and communicate how you are CHANGING THE WORLD!

Use this framing device to think and answer some questions at 30,000’:

  • Why do you what you do – To what end?
  • What is your raison d’etre (or reason for existence?)
  • What are you best in the world at?
  • What would you do with $1M or $10M (or X times your current operating budget?)
  • What makes you unique or how are you collaborating to solve a big social problem?
  • What gets you really fired up in the morning? (About your impact!)

Use the answers to these questions to develop your Message at 30,000’ – Your big picture purpose statement, the meaning of your work – Something we call the Blue Box Message.

“The Blue Box”:

  • Represents the starting point for everything
  • Frames a conversation at the highest level
  • Is simple (not full of fancy prose)
  • Is articulated clearly, concisely and compellingly

Here are some examples of great Blue Box Messages:

Changing the lives of the visually impaired worldwide.

Transforming the aging experience.

To provide the finest liberal arts education in the country.

Breaking the circle of poverty by changing the system.

Transforming Columbus: Inspiring the entrepreneurs of the future.

Strong Healthy Kids, Strong Healthy Families, Strong Healthy Communities.

We provide the opportunity for disadvantaged women and children to transform their lives.

We want safe water for EVERYONE FOREVER.

To make reading matter and change the story for low-income students and families in San Diego County.

Redefine Interprofessional Education. Redefine Healthcare Delivery. For Better Patient Health Outcomes.

Join us tomorrow for more on Simplifying your Message.

“Bankers Don’t Have Any Imagination, None At All”


In September of 1953, Walt Disney was sending his brother Roy to meet with bankers in New York. Roy was going to be seeking financing for a new concept: Disneyland. At the time, Disney had cartoons but no theme parks, which is hard to imagine in the present day.

As the story is told, Walt called in an imagineer named Herb Ryman and said, “You know bankers don’t have any imagination, none at all. You have to show them what you’re going to do.” He then asked Herb to help him create a mock-up of Disneyland on a large storyboard. It was a splendid painting that even included black light paint so that you could see what Disneyland would look like at night.

This story comes from Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind-the-Dreams Look at Making the Magic Real. The book includes pictures of the storyboard.

 

 

Part of our For Impact story has been the invention of THE ENGAGEMENT TOOL. This one-page presentation flow, at altitude, has become an absolutely indispensable part of our client and coaching success.

Always look for ways to SHOW what you’re going to do. Use Engagement Tools. Banker or not, there is a big difference between talking your way through something and showing your way through something. A Engagement Tool worked for Walt and Roy Disney and it will work for you.