Saturday, June 23, 2007

A Whole New Mind

A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel H. Pink is a very interesting read. As a result of what he calls the 3 A’s – Abundance (abundant material goods available to all at affordable prices), Asia (the globalization of our economy means that if it can be done cheaper in Asia it will be), and Automation (if a computer can do it faster than a person, then a computer will be doing it) – we are now in the Conceptual Age.

There is a nice graphic about how we have moved from the Agriculture Age (farmers) in the 18th century to the Industrial Age (factory workers) in the 19th century, to the Information Age (knowledge workers) in the 20th century, and to the Conceptual Age (creators and empathizers) in the 21st century. He describes how the information age led to an over reliance on the left brain. Getting information is no longer enough, in fact there is so much of it that what is useful NOW are people who can synthesize, distill, and make meaning through context and analysis of the enormous amount of information available. These are all things that a computer can not do.

He proposes that what is already being valued and will continue to become more and more important is what he calls the Six Senses: Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play, and Meaning. All of these depend on both the right brain and left brain, not exclusively left. His message is that our ability to thrive in this century is dependent on our rediscovery of the benefits of the right brain and re-integration of the right brain back into our work and lives. He includes a portfolio after each chapter with suggestions on how one can develop each of these senses.

He also discusses the work of Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, founder of the “positive psychology” movement. This field of work has shifted focus to what makes people happy. And it turns out that the things that contribute to happiness include “engaging in satisfying work, avoiding negative events and emotions, being married, having a rich social network, gratitude, forgiveness, and optimism – what doesn’t seem to matter much according to the research is making more money, getting lots of education, or living in a pleasant climate.”

This fits right into a discussion that is occuring all over the country about switching the dominant paradigm from one of scarcity to one of sufficiency/abundance. Lynne Twist’s Soul of Money is a great read on this.

More on this after the 4rth. Have a safe and happy holiday!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

What value can partners add?

There is a lot of discussion in the social sector about partnering. I was at an applicant meeting and funders who were giving out $8,000 grants were lecturing attendees on the value of partnering. However, the things that the attendees did were all exactly the same. So I began to wonder, what value can partners add? Do these funders really understand what is possible by partnering and what isn’t? Have they lost sight of the purpose of partnering, and are promoting the means to an end as an end?

If by partnering you can’t do something different from what you can do on your own, then the only possibility is efficiency. If we are both doing something similar, we can possibly do it more efficiently by doing it together. This is some of the thinking behind mergers. Mergers can lower competition for funds, and create efficiencies in bringing money in and spending it. But not always.

If by collaborating we can do something together that we couldn’t do by ourselves, then something more than efficiency is possible. Complementary competencies, capabilities, core functions, and operations can produce something more than efficiency. This takes some real thinking about the resources of each partner and what value is added by working together. Sometimes it seems more difficult to work with another organization than for an organization to do something on its own. However, if we want to create results that have lasting impact it often requires working with other organizations and partners in a new way. This requires a different skill set and ability than developing and operating programs on your own.

Recently after giving a talk about sustainability -- someone asked how to help partnerships of industry and colleges with vastly different cultures and expectations. Things were expected to happen much more quickly in industry than in the college, and employers were becoming inpatient with the slower processes of the college. This is a difficult question to answer. Any ideas or suggestions?

Monday, June 18, 2007

SOAR Don't SWOT: Asset Based Strategic Planning

Another article? Yes! This is an expanded version of an earlier post. Check it out on the Charity Channel.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Why Should You Do Your Budget First?

Check out Cassandra's article on the Charity Channel to find out why.

Is Self-Compassion More Important than Self-Esteem?


Why do some people roll with life's punches, facing failures and problems with grace, while others dwell on calamities, criticize themselves and exaggerate problems?

The answer, according to researchers from Duke and Wake Forest universities, may be self-compassion -- the ability to treat oneself kindly when things go badly. The results of their research, one of the first major investigations of self-compassion, were published in the May 2007 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

"Life's tough enough with little things that happen. Self-compassion helps to eliminate a lot of the anger, depression and pain we experience when things go badly for us," said Mark R. Leary, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke and lead author of the paper, which includes five peer-reviewed studies.

"American society has spent a great deal of time and effort trying to promote people's self-esteem," Leary said, "when a far more important ingredient of well-being may be self-compassion."

Rest here:

Thanks to the person who posted this on the Appreciative Inquiry Listserve.

A great resource on self compassion is the book Radical Acceptance Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha by Tara Brach, Ph.D.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

What is most important in getting a grant funded?

See Cassandra's article in the Charity Channel's Grants & Foundations Review™.