Team Development

The Price of Management Debt

“Every really good, really experienced CEO I know shares one important characteristic: They tend to opt for the hard answer to organizational issues. If faced with giving everyone the same bonus to make things easy or with sharply rewarding performance and ruffling many feathers, they’ll ruffle the feathers. If given the choice of cutting a popular project today, because it’s not in the long-term plans or you’re keeping it around for morale purposes and to appear consistent, they’ll cut it today. Why? Because they’ve paid the price of management debt, and they would rather not do that again.” – From the Hard Thing about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

I’ve never heard anyone talk about ‘management debt’.  What a powerful concept! It smacked me between the eyes! This is a powerful frame for leaders because it puts the notion of DEBT on indecision. Decision/indecision doesn’t just have a ‘cost’; it has a ‘debt’! It allows us to ask, “What debt will I incur in NOT dealing with this tough issue?”

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Do the Simple Things to Avoid Team Complexity

In his book The Checklist Manifesto, author Atul Gawande calls attention to 3 different kinds of problems: the simple, the complicated, and the complex.  

From The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right:

“Two professors who study the science of complexity—Brenda Zimmerman of York University and Sholom Glouberman of the University of Toronto—have proposed a distinction among three different kinds of problems in the world: the simple, the complicated, and the complex.

Simple problems, they note, are ones like baking a cake from a mix. There is a recipe. Sometimes there are a few basic techniques to learn. But once these are mastered, following the recipe brings a high likelihood of success.

Complicated problems are ones like sending a rocket to the moon. They can sometimes be broken down into a series of simple problems. But there is no straightforward recipe. Success frequently requires multiple people, often multiple teams, and specialized expertise. Unanticipated difficulties are frequent. Timing and coordination become serious concerns.

Complex problems are ones like raising a child. Once you learn how to send a rocket to the moon, you can repeat the process with other rockets and perfect it. One rocket is like another rocket. But not so with raising a child, the professors point out. Every child is unique. Although raising one child may provide experience, it does not guarantee success with the next child. Expertise is valuable but most certainly not sufficient. Indeed, the next child may require an entirely different approach from the previous one. And this brings up another feature of complex problems: their outcomes remain highly uncertain. Yet we all know that it is possible to raise a child well. It’s complex, that’s all.”

I want to relate this framing to teams and dysfunction. Building and leading a team is a complex problem. Like raising a child well – “It’s complex, that’s all.”  In our work at The Suddes Group, we’re often building or reconfiguring teams to create greater funding results. One of the things we’ve observed is the relationship between the simple and complex problems. When teams don’t execute on the simple problems, the complex problems are amplified.

Any funding effort is largely a function of simple problems: (more…)

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The #1 Measurement for a Successful Development Operation

Reposting one of our most popular nuggets from Tom about how to measure success and productivity in your Development Operation.

RETURN-ON-INVESTMENT: What every Investor wants from their investment and what every For Impact organization should want from its development/advancement/fundraising effort.

I feel this concept is completely absent or totally misunderstood from our sector – Something I want to help change.

With all due respect to the industry, I just don’t get it. An organization invests money and resources in their development/fundraising operation (whether it’s a one-person shop or 50 people in the college advancement division) but doesn’t measure that RETURN-ON-INVESTMENT. I’m not sure how else you would measure productivity or success without making ROI the #1 barometer.

ROI is very simple to calculate. It’s a numerator/denominator math problem:

  • Here’s how much money we Raised (the numerator).
  • Here’s how much money we spent/Total Expenses (denominator).
R – TE = NET, NET, NET CHECK/FUNDS to support IMPACT!

In the For Impact approach, the development function ‘write checks’ to the IMPACT.

R ÷ TE = ROI and COST OF FUNDRAISING.

For example, if you are a hospital foundation raising $2M a year in ‘fundraising Revenue and your total expenses are $1M then your ROI is 2X or 100%; and your cost of fundraising is 50%.

There are two ways to increase your ROI and decrease your cost of fundraising:

  • Increase the Numerator (Revenue)
  • Decrease the Denominator (Expenses)

In our For Impact world, our own benchmarks are as follows:

  • 3X is minimum model/benchmark.
  • 4X is great.
  • 5X is something you should be very proud of.

If you’re running a Campaign within an existing development operation or as a separate initiative, I believe the cost of fundraising should be a nickel (five cents on the dollar.) That would give you a 20X ROI.

If you are a For Impact leader, senior staff, executive director or a board member, I hope the above gives you some sense of comparison.

Note: One last example of why ROI is a completely different level of thinking than simply “This is how much money we raised this year.” I can guarantee a small not-for-profit organization an additional $100,000 this year – Hire two ‘major gifts officers’ at $50,000 apiece. Send them to For Impact Boot Camp. I guarantee that they can go out and raise $100,000 in the next year (combined.)Same thing would be true with a larger organization at $1M. Hire five major gift officers at $200,000 each. I’m fairly confident if they followed any sales process they would each be able to raise $200,000 in the next year for a total of $1M.

Ok, I think you get the point.

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LCB: A Framework to Create a Clear Message, Engage Others and Build Funding Momentum

We use a Leadership Consensus Building (LCB) framework on nearly every project. At the highest level, this is a versatile framework to:

  • Create clarity around vision, message, priorities and plan,
  • Get others ‘on board’ with these elements, and
  • Build (funding) momentum.

This visual illustrates the LCB Framework:

fi_LCB-800

 

I often describe Leadership Consensus Building as similar to coalition-building – You’re bringing people together around an idea, cause or vision and creating priorities, goals and buy-in. A natural result of this process is that everyone becomes invested in the outcome!

Leadership Consensus Building can be used in many ways and can help with these specific challenges:

  • Getting a board ‘on board.’ Think about strategically engaging each board member one-on-one (or in small groups) as part of this framework. (This is much better than holding a retreat and herding cats.) And, you can use a team gathering to start or conclude the process – We often do this in the form of a Vision Day!
  • Determining (funding) priorities. We often employ the framework to help with organizational development and strategic planning – facilitating this process to engage key leaders and stakeholders, listen to key issues and keep framing toward a common goal. The framework is essential to effective strategic planning with a team.
  • Predisposing prospects for campaign funding. This a great way to test and strengthen your message with your best prospects. Depending on the prospect you can say, with authenticity, “We want you to be our lead funder on this so it makes sense to sit down and talk through the priorities and plan well in advance of that conversation.”
  • Testing feasibility math. Leadership Consensus Building is about engaging key stakeholders with a working version of your message, model and math. It brings ‘to the market’ a real message and plan for discussion – versus a hypothetical! This is an alternative to a traditional feasibility study which means you can be…
  • Building funding momentum (while you figure out ‘the next big thing.’) I see too many teams who are waiting to engage in a funding conversation until _____ . While you get stakeholders on board with a vision and plan, this framework allows you to be sharing a future project AND asking for a commitment for a CURRENT project.


Because we spend so much time teaching this to leaders, I’m going to record a seminar on the subject this Tuesday, June 14, 2016. Blog readers can participate for free – More info and registration. On the call, I will walk through this visual and illustrate how it can be used in various ways, giving examples you can model.
Actions:

  1. Download and use the LCB Visual above
  2. Send me an email (nick@forimpact.org) and let me know how you’re using it.
  3. And, email me if you want to talk about how we can facilitate this process for you and your organization.
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Announcing: Board Workshops

The For Impact Board Workshop is an effort to honor the number one request from our community: “I wish I could share For Impact with my Board.”

This workshop, led by a For Impact coach, creates passionate advocates, generates organizational clarity and sparks funding momentum in a 90-minute, half-day or full-day setting.

The Board Workshop is designed to engage your Board and Senior Staff around three big components:

  1. Impact: Get everyone ‘on board’ with your impact, message and organizational story at 30,000’.
  2. Income: Commit to the ‘Just Ask’ attitude and a simple funding model that addresses your organization’s ongoing challenges with funding.
  3. The Funding Role of the Board: Transform your organization with the help of passionate advocates who understand how to Champion, Invite and Invest.

How does it work?

  • Your For Impact Coach will lead your organization through a brief discovery process to make the most of the session
  • Your Coach comes onsite to facilitate the workshop
  • Your Board receive materials and training around the Funding Roadmap for your organization

Want to learn more? Please complete this short form and Kerry Suddes will follow up.

 

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The Talent Spectrum

Almost everyone who is looking for a senior development person or MGO (Major Gift Officer) is thinking:

“It takes a lot of money to get an ‘experienced’ Major Gift Officer …”

OR

“I can’t pay the $80,000/$100,000 (or more) that we understand it takes to get this person.”

Bottom line:  You are NOT constrained by SALARY in your search for TALENT!

Think about this creative/contrarian idea of finding TALENT at both ends of the “Talent Spectrum.” My favorite place to be looking for talent on this spectrum is on the far left or the far right.  (And I’m not talking about political leanings!)

STAGE: 22-30 30-50 50-60 60-90+
‘BEST &

BRIGHTEST’

‘PRIME-EARNING YEARS’ ‘SUCCESS TO SIGNIFICANCE’ ‘ELDERS-SAGES’
PROFILE:
  • Young
  • Passionate
  • Committed
  • Cause-Driven
  • Success-Driven
  • High Cost of Living
  • Family Priorities
  • Make A Difference
  • Seek Re-Potting
  • Great Coaches
  • Experience
  • Wisdom
  • Great Mentors
  • Untapped Resource
INVESTMENT:  CHEAP!  EXPENSIVE!!  REASONABLE.  FREE!!

Some thoughts on the ‘Spectrum:’

  • BEST & BRIGHTEST – Look on the ‘left’ end of the spectrum for incredibly passionate, excited, enthusiastic ‘BEST & BRIGHTEST!’  I would rather have two great, young, committed ‘Best & Brightest’ as Development Officers/ Major Gift Officers/Sales Staff … than an older, know everything, ‘experienced’ Development Officer. It costs the same, but I get double (triple) the coverage, usually with a much better attitude! 

    I look for ‘superstars.’ I love working with, coaching, mentoring the Best & Brightest. Look for young people who are unchallenged in their current job, bored, or just plain unhappy doing what they’re doing. Offer them an opportunity to MAKE A DIFFERENCE. 

    Seek ‘Best & Brightest’ if you’ve got a job that just requires a lot of energy, commitment, hard work, travel, etc. Don’t worry about lack of experience – think of it as no ‘baggage!’ Promise them an amazing experience, great contacts and ‘work’ days filled with challenges/meaning. 

    *Read Daniel Pink’s book, Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us, on why people work. The new generation wants to be involved in something with a PURPOSE, not just a PAYCHECK! Many young people can view their work at a great For Impact organization as an upgraded internship or even as a kind of volunteer/youth service commitment!

  • SUCCESS TO SIGNIFICANCE – This group at the ‘right’ is a terrific RESOURCE.  Their families are raised and they are ready to get out of ‘rat race’, want new challenges and would love to use their experience and talent to help change the world! We love these ‘young in spirit,’ talented Eagles and Ducks coming from the for-profit world who are aligning a change in career with purpose.

    This group can bring a wealth of business experience, sales and financial expertise, and just plain productivity to their position/responsibilities. If it’s the ‘right fit,’ someone at this point in life can have a HUGE impact on your organization. They are looking to get ‘re-potted’ and ‘re-energized’ around something more than work, more than a job. Yes, they still need to earn income, but many have other sources, and just want to be treated fairly. Recruit them on the MESSAGE – not the MONEY!!!
  • ELDERS-SAGES – There is an abundance of TALENT sitting under this category – just waiting to be asked! ELDERS-SAGES are a HUGE untapped resource for the For Impact world!  Maybe not full-time, but these people bring so much wisdom, talent and life experience to the table, that they can have an amazing impact in only a few days a week or month.

    Look here to find wonderful, wise and (often) witty Board Members, mentors and even ‘unpaid staff.’ Elders-Sages can offer incredible TALENT for a very affordable investment, with a huge ROI. If asked, many of these ‘untapped resources will work for satisfaction/ fulfillment (vs. money!).  (I’ve know some absolutely unbelievable ‘$1.00/year’ staff that put ‘paid staff’ to shame!) 

    Here, you’ll find people who love your cause, vision and message … a have a lot to contribute … and ‘HUNGER for these OPPORTUNITIES!!!’ 

    Just ASK them if they are interested! Ask a great Board Member who fits this profile to join you as a full-time/part-time STAFF PERSON! If ‘60 is the new 50’ then 70 and 80 are the new 60! ‘Boomers’ (millions of us) aren’t ready to retire, play golf, sit around the house, etc. We/they want to make a difference.   And, it’s not about ‘money!’ They will help and even INVEST!

    See Marc Freedman’s book, The Big Shift for great stuff on ’boomers’ and ‘second careers’ at For Impact organizations.

“Only one in five Americans over 55 is currently on the job …. Older Americans are wealthier, healthier and living longer …. And there is ample evidence that they ‘HUNGER’ for OPPORTUNITIES … to contribute their experience and time in meaningful ways.”

America’s healthy aging population is the country’s only INCREASING NATURAL RESOURCE.”

-Marc Friedman (Prime Time)

  • PRIME EARNING YEARS – People ‘in the middle,’ God bless them, need a job!  Their focus is often on ‘the job,’ a paycheck, supporting their family. A focus on ‘heart,’ particularly the element of ‘taking a smaller salary for work you love,’ is much tougher when you’re responsible for a family.

Look at this ‘TALENT SPECTRUM’ as a way of creatively adding great staff and volunteer leaders. I’m not suggesting you overlook all of the wonderful, talented, committed people who are in their “prime-earning years.” But don’t get caught up in thinking this is the BEST OR ONLY place to look because you need someone with X years of development experience!

Bottom line: Best & Brightest, Elders-Sages, Success to Significance. All of these are wonderful places to SEARCH FOR TALENT.

HIRE FOR ATTITUDE. TRAIN FOR SKILL (at the For Impact Boot Camp.) No more expensive hiring mistakes!

 

 

 

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Join us for Boot Camp in Dublin on June 1st!

Join us for Boot Camp in Dublin, Ireland on June 1, 2016.

The For Impact Boot Camp is focused on frameworks and skill building – You will leave with the knowledge you need to simplify your message and funding rationale, and take your organization to the next level.

This high-energy, day long session covers topics like:

  • How to execute against a sales process (for major gifts, campaign gifts, transformational gifts, etc.)
  • How to build and maximize relationships
  • How to build and lead an effective team
  • How to ask, close, and follow-up

The Boot Camp is perfect for organizational alums, new hires, or anyone looking to hone individual skills – both personal and professional!

Early bird pricing is available for both sessions. Discounts are also available for Alumni Organizations and teams with 4 or more participants.

For More Information, FAQs and Registration:
For Impact Funding Boot Camps
Wednesday, June 1, 2016 | Dublin, Ireland
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Early Bird Tickets For Colorado Boot Camp End in 6 days!

Early Bird Tickets for our Boot Camp on May 17-18 in Larkspur, CO (just outside of Denver) are available until this Thursday, March 31st. This event will sell out so get your tickets early!

The For Impact Boot Camp is focused on frameworks and skill building – You will leave with the knowledge you need to simplify your message and funding rationale, and take your organization to the next level.

This high-energy, day-and-a-half session covers topics like:

  • How to execute against a sales process (for major gifts, campaign gifts, transformational gifts, etc.)
  • How to build and maximize relationships
  • How to build and lead an effective team
  • How to ask, close, and follow-up

The Boot Camp is perfect for organizational alums, new hires, or anyone looking to hone individual skills – both personal and professional!

Early bird pricing is available for both sessions. Discounts are also available for Alumni Organizations and teams with 4 or more participants.

For More Information, FAQs and Registration:
For Impact Funding Boot Camps
Tuesday, May 17 – Wednesday, May 18, 2016 | Larkspur, CO
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On Board(s): A For Impact Guide to Greater Board Engagement (Audio)

We’re reposting some of OG’s greatest hits. Here he is with the companion audio to On Board(s): A For Impact Guide to Greater Board Engagement.

“How do we engage our board?” is a question we receive with every client – this seminar is a direct answer to that question.

Here, Tom does what he does best – CHALLENGE assumptions you have about the board/staff dynamic, LEAD you with concrete frameworks and tools and SIMPLIFY everything with stories from the field.

Included in this seminar:

  • A change in perspective. “A change in perspective is worth 80 IQ points.” – Alan Kay
  • How to change the dynamics of the board/staff.
  • How to get leaders ‘on board’ vs. ‘on the board.’
  • How to leverage a NEW leadership model.
  • How to identify the right leaders and champions.
  • 3 Key Frameworks (TOOLS) for leaders and leadership engagement.

A great seminar for senior leadership and board members, complimenting On Board(s): A For Impact Guide to Greater Board Engagement


(Recorded by Tom Suddes)
Right click here; to download file for listening offline.
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Number of Asks: The ONE Lever

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

This week’s theme is: Just Ask. Just Ask. Just Ask.

In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg explores the formation of organizational habits. (You can read this quick summary by BusinessWeek.) One case study examines Alcoa’s remarkable business turn-around in the 80’s/90’s. CEO Paul O’Neill focused the cultural energy (and habits) around safety–more specifically, around the number of safety violations.

We call this the ONE LEVER. Meaning, to maximize team cohesion and culture change you need to focus energy on ONE LEVER at a time to create organizational change.

What will that lever be? Be specific. Be clear.

The Orlando Magic focus on ‘butts in seats’.
FedEx focuses on number of packages that don’t arrive when promised (aiming for zero).

Just about everyone reading this is seeking some form or another of improved funding results.

Call it a culture of philanthropy.
Call it a sales culture.
Call it greater revenue for impact.
Call it funding the vision.

When you’re bringing your team along there is so much ‘other stuff’ that can obscure progress. Events, predisposition activities, reporting, deadlines, board meetings.

As it relates to INCOME DEVELOPMENT the ONE LEVER is – in most every case – the NUMBER OF ASKS.

This is what we emphasize, design-around, message, measure, reinforce.

Obviously a funding goal is pretty important. However that is a RESULT of this measurable activity. Similarly, Alcoa’s leap in quality (and then profits) was a RESULT of increased safety.

One lever: Number of Asks. Preach it. Measure it. It will be transformational. I promise.

Note: It’s not uncommon to see an organization (of any size) with fewer than 10 real-asks per quarter. In fact, it’s a safe bet that by our definition most are at ZERO.

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R.O.I.

RETURN-ON-INVESTMENT.

What every ‘Investor’ wants from their investment and what every For Impact organization should want from its development/advancement/fundraising effort.

I feel this concept is completely absent or totally misunderstood from our sector – Something I want to help change.

With all due respect to the industry, I just don’t get it. An organization invests money and resources in their development/fundraising operation – could be a one-person shop or 50 people in the college advancement division. I’m not sure how else you would measure productivity or success without making ROI the #1 barometer.

ROI is very simple to calculate. It’s a numerator/denominator math problem:

  • Here’s how much money we Raised (the numerator).
  • Here’s how much money we spent/Total Expenses (denominator).
R – TE = NET, NET, NET CHECK/FUNDS to support IMPACT!

In the For Impact approach, the development function ‘write checks’ to the IMPACT.

R ÷ TE = ROI and COST OF FUNDRAISING.

For example, if you are a hospital foundation raising $2M a year in ‘fundraising Revenue and your total expenses are $1M then your ROI is 2X or 100%; and your cost of fundraising is 50%.

There are two ways to increase your ROI and decrease your cost of fundraising:

  • Increase the Numerator (Revenue)
  • Decrease the Denominator (Expenses)

In our For Impact world, our own benchmarks are as follows:

  • 3X is minimum model/benchmark.
  • 4X is great.
  • 5X is something you should be very proud of.

If you’re running a Campaign within an existing development operation or as a separate initiative, I believe the cost of fundraising should be a nickel (five cents on the dollar.) That would give you a 20X ROI.

If you are a For Impact leader, senior staff, executive director or a board member, I hope the above gives you some sense of comparison.

Note: One last example of why ROI is a completely different level of thinking than simply “This is how much money we raised this year.”

I can guarantee a small not-for-profit organization an additional $100,000 this year. Hire two ‘major gifts officers’ at $50,000 apiece. Send them to For Impact Boot Camp. I guarantee that they can go out and raise $100,000 in the next year (combined.)

Same thing would be true with a larger organization at $1M. Hire five major gift officers at $200,000 each. I’m fairly confident if they followed any sales process they would each be able to raise $200,000 in the next year for a total of $1M.

Ok, I think you get the point.

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No More Meetings

LOSERS MEET. WINNERS DO.”

That’s James Carville’s typically blunt, hit you between the eyes, challenge.

He goes on to say that, “Absent a major peace negotiation, complicated merger or complex legal settlement, there’s no reason on earth to have a meeting last more 30 MINUTES.”

After 40+ years in the ‘business world’, I never want to attend another meeting in my life. I believe this is also true of every other meeting attendee (excluding the meeting planner or boss who is holding the meeting.)

I wish I had a magic alternative. I’d love to see more ‘GATHERINGS’ of the right people at the right time on the right subject – to brainstorm or reevaluate or correct the course. (Imagine what life would be like without ‘meetings’, but where you ‘GATHERED’ together in a fun, productive session with real results.)

Read Pixar’s Braintrust for another great option.

A meeting, by the way, is not a place to INFORM! If you want to share information, write it down and get it out in a one-pager. If you’re going to ‘gather’ for actionable results, then people need to be engaged and involved in the session – not listening to one person ramble with no purpose.

I’d also love to see more opportunities for CELEBRATIONS of accomplishments and success (rather than just ‘talking’ about what we’re going to do).

P.S. If you really, really want a PRODUCTIVE session, either STAND or go for a WALK!

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Will It Make the Boat Go Faster?

 

I absolutely love catchphrases. When used as part of our language and culture, they become a great ‘shorthand’ to make a point or to provide direction.

You will notice these catchphrases throughout the For Impact thinking and writing:

Shoulder-to-shoulder. Right people on the bus. Don’t make decisions for your prospects. Hope is not a strategy. Think … and grow rich. (Even) Just Ask.

I came across this great catchphrase/book/YouTube hit recently:

WILL IT MAKE THE BOAT GO FASTER?

Simple backstory: Ben Hunt-Davis wrote a book capturing Great Britain’s almost- miraculous win at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. (Here’s a great six-minute clip of the race.)

Hunt-Davis now gives talks all around Europe about how their crew could have kept doing the ‘same old thing’, and continue to come in well behind all the other international crews.

They came up with a simple mantra/question: WILL IT MAKE THE BOAT GO FASTER?

For them, that applied to everything they did. For example:

If we spent an extra hour on the rowing machine … will it make the boat go faster? Obvious answer: Yes.

If we go to the pub tonight … will it make the boat go faster?
Obvious answer: No.

I don’t want you to overthink this. The beauty of a catchphrase is in its simplicity.

You can decide whatever your ‘boat’ is. (A goal, a project, revenue/income, whatever.)

Then, decide on what ‘faster’ equates to. (More successful, etc.)

Then, simply ask yourself every day:

WILL IT MAKE OUR (BOAT) GO (FASTER)?
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