Make the Most of Organizational Collaborations

Are you still dating your high school boyfriend?

Kudos to you if you are. Or, if you married the guy, I’m envious!

But if you’re like me, you’re in touch with only a few high school friends. As we take on new roles in our personal lives – as an aunt, business owner, member of a faith community – we expect that the types of people we spend time with will evolve with our changing needs for friendship, entertainment and support.

As leaders in #socialchange we don’t always give thought to when our organizational relationships are serving us well. Since time and resources are finite and valuable, that’s a problem.

I have noted that the most successful #socialentrepreneurs among my clients are always assessing their collaborations. They keep track of when the priorities of longtime partners may be diverging. They look for influential organizations whose interests are adjacent to theirs, and who could be cultivated to become important allies.

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The Alchemy of Regular Measurement

I bet you have a friend who owns an Apple watch, or a Garmin.

Who keeps track of how many steps he’s taken before breakfast. Or how many vertical [feet? meters?] she’s skied in her morning on the slopes.

Like me, did you think . . . what’s up with that? Is it making him healthier? Is she becoming a better skier? Is it worth the time (and money)?

Reading leadership coach Marshall Goldsmith’s book The Earned Life my first reaction was similar. 

Goldsmith convened his international clientele in weekly eight-person Zoom meetings during the first months of the COVID pandemic. At these meetings, each participant reported their self-identified score on six life-management questions that Goldsmith devised based on his highly successful CEO coaching practice.

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Improve Post-Training Surveys to Learn About Impact

“Tell Us How Much You Love Us.”

That’s how a friend – who trains professionals all over the world – describes the average post-training evaluation survey. This is because surveys often just focus on three things:

Participation: Were the group exercises engaging? Were there adequate bio and texting breaks? Was it easy to work out problems with registration?

Satisfaction: Will the written materials help trainees use what they learned next week, next year?

Quality: Was the instructor knowledgeable? How much did trainees like the cookies and coffee that were served at the break?

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New to Measurement and Learning for Social Change? Try the Five Questions

My mother left me my favorite kitchen tool: a small, serrated knife that peels, chops, and carves with ease. I reach for it first, before the dozen specialized knives in the block. 

I bet you also have a best-loved household tool. Maybe a hammer that has the perfect heft and fits your hand just right. Or a whisk that preps eggs for fluffy omelets every time.

In the measurement and learning field many of us have simple “go-to” tools that fit the bill for teams that are new to measurement or have limited capacity to take it on.

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Advocacy on the Menu at Boston Globe

In the mood for a tasty lesson on doing #advocacy right? Check out the Boston Globe’s “Food” section’s inspired campaign, #ProjectTakeout.

#Project Takeout’s goal is to spur readers’ support for local independent restaurants during this second crushing pandemic winter. My favorite part is the feature “Three Places We Supported This Week.” Each weekly segment features three or four informal restaurant reviews by Globe staff.

Why is this great advocacy?

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Community Possibilities Podcast: Advocating for Social Change

I recently had a great chat with my friend and colleague Ann Price, who hosts the Community Possibilities podcast at Community Evaluation Solutions.

Ann’s expertise is working with community-based social service organizations both large and small on strategy design and evaluation for social change. We’ve connected over our passion for advocacy and policy change as a critical tool for helping communities to thrive and prosper.

Until you get to hear our podcast conversation for yourself, here’s the gist:

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Grant Seekers Meet Monster Anteaters: What Your Concept Paper Can Learn from a Movie Trailer

Monster green anteater movie trailers can improve your concept paper.

Not immediately finding this obvious? Nuclear powers now square off over Twitter, and jumbotrons post marriage offers. In times like these, it seems logical to borrow magic from a medium that attracts millions of eyeballs.

Grab that $8.00 bucket of popcorn and read on.

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Bars Are for Pitchers, Not Pitching

In a world where work can’t start until a cat is ejected from someone’s keyboard, private in-person business meetings are as rare as carbon paper. But a chat behind (real) closed doors is something that should not be lost entirely to the mists of time.

In pre-pandemic 2019 I was an accidental witness to a job interview; an encounter that its very public setting – the lobby bar of a conference-center hotel – did little to improve.

In this piece for the American Evaluation Association’s daily blog, I distilled two lessons from the scene for independent evaluators and their clients. First, the consultant makes the best “pitch” in a get-to-know you meeting by providing the client with ideas that have value, not reciting her CV. And second, the philosophers need your bar stool, so, if you’re the client, find a better place to converse.

Prevail in Local Level Policy Change by Maintaining the Narrative Upper Hand

Even in the best of times, proposals to change local services – such as roads and schools – are often controversial. And this, of course, is far from the best of times. Opponents of specific public works projects find ready allies in residents who are unnerved by changes to the city or neighborhood status quo more broadly. This is especially true when an innovation (such as adding bike lanes and crosswalks) is identified by opponents as a threatening shift of entitlement from longstanding residents (such as people who drive cars) in favor of “outsiders” (bikers and pedestrians).

Local government is all about finding middle ground among residents with competing interests. But how is that process skewed in an era where social media aids in turbo-charging angry sentiments that previously were shared at the coffee shop or over the back fence?

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Politicians and Cow Manure: Voters Harmed by Corporate Polluters Urge Candidates to Take a Stand

From before the United States even existed, political actors sought to get the narrative upper hand. No less a figure than Paul Revere forged public opinion with this propaganda image about the Boston Massacre. The engraving (a print from which is in the collection of the Concord Museum) helped inflame New Englanders’ sentiments against London’s oppressive policies and helped push the colonies toward separation from England.

Forward to this century, opponents of sensible environmental regulation promote the narrative that it’s is anti-worker. In rural areas, they label candidates who promote management of natural resources as “anti-farmer,” all the while pushing the cost of industrial-scale pollution onto local communities that can ill afford it.

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