When last we left you, dear readers, YNPN had achieved a critical understanding of who we were culturally but were struggling with how to manage our explosive growth. We knew we needed greater cohesion across the network, but the models that were recommended to us seemed to rely on creating cohesion by force instead of by choice.
In late 2013 and early 2014, we underwent a Theory of Change process that helped open our eyes to this false dichotomy. We learned through that process that there is already an incredible amount of cohesion throughout our network. As a network, we share a common vision, mission, and values. We even had a remarkably clear sense of the roles chapters should play versus the national organization.
What the process also revealed was that we lacked the basic infrastructure to be able to work collectively within our roles towards our shared vision, and that whatever that infrastructure would be, it would have to be incredibly dynamic.
So this year, we went back to the drawing board with this question in mind of how you harness the power of an incredibly dynamic network without killing it. Before we actually started referring to the plan as this officially, I was calling it “the Chapter Operating System” in my head for two reasons:
- First, like OS X or Windows, we knew that what we were looking to build a platform, not a program. We wanted a base that chapters could use to create what worked for them locally not a distribution channel for a single set of ideas.
- Second, we knew that what we were rolling out was the 1.0 version of whatever our ongoing relationship with chapters would be. We knew that we would need to openly embrace the fact that our system would have bugs that would need to be fixed. And we also knew that this iterative process would leave room to shift and adapt as new opportunities (aka features) came up.
So what does it look like?
Like any good operating system, it focuses on providing the very basics that our chapters and chapter leaders need in order to thrive, and leaves the rest open for chapters to build on their own. Our core components:
- Clear affiliation structure - With the support of National, chapters acquire their own tax status and affiliate formally with the network via a clear, Chapter/National-developed agreement which lays out shared standards and expectations for the relationship.
- Upgraded direct services for chapters - By focusing on peer learning platforms and by providing key infrastructure, our goal at the National level is to show our value to the network by building capacity for chapters to be able to do for themselves. In addition to building capacity we will leverage our numbers to bring critical direct benefits to chapters at a better rate such as D&O and liability insurance.
- Shared platform - We chose NationBuilder because it is a fully integrated platform (website, communications, events, and donor management) that will also allow us to gather and compare data across our growing network.
- Shared membership and investment - Our structure has always been that members join individual chapters directly. Knowing though that we want our members to have access to the fullest network benefits and connection to the nationwide movement in addition to their local benefits, we’re moving to joint national/local membership so we can leverage our members across the network for advocacy, research, and momentum for change. And all of this will be supported in part by a nominal chapter investment in the national network.
A few elements, we believe, point to the inevitable success of the Chapter OS:
- We found a system that matches our dynamism and serves as an organizing tool, not just a database. Hooray for NationBuilder!
- Most importantly, as we’ve mapped out this system, we’ve chosen to focus A LOT of our time and energy on creating a vision for what’s possible and only a little bit of energy building systems that keep chapters from going rogue. That’s how big of a bet we’re making on building a new kind of network that makes it clear that we’re better together.
"What does this mean for you?" Realistically, most of this will be happening behind the scenes--just like an operating system updates, you don't see the changes that happen in the background. And to continue the OS metaphor, there may be a few bugs. No grand endeavour comes out perfect the first time around.
What you will see is a national membership program, increased programs and services for members, and a stronger network that can change the sector for the better.
Over the last three years, the number of chapters in the YNPN network has grown by 60 percent. This exponential growth at a time when most membership organizations are in decline tells us that there's something special about YNPN. As we work to support this incredible growth, our National Director Trish Tchume did some thinking about what exactly makes YNPN so unique.
Last year as part of a grant proposal, I was put in the position of having to put into words for the first time not only what made YNPN unique in general, but specifically what made YNPN different from other membership associations. I knew what it was. When you talked to our chapters leaders, they knew what it was. But putting it into words was still difficult.
After a few days of mulling it over, I finally found the words to capture the essence of what makes our network unique:
Unlike the traditional “association” model where bringing a chapter to your community is essentially like opening a franchise that would look and operate the same whether it was in Boston or Little Rock, YNPN is an intentionally creative space for developing and connecting the next generation of social change leaders. We like to think of our network-building model as the equivalent of offering a pile of blocks, a lump of Playdoh, pipecleaners, and pickup sticks to the most expansive, young minds in the country.
Then we leave them with the very basic instructions that they should build something with it that awakens a diverse cross-section of young people to their potential to create change in their communities, provides them with the skills and experiences they need to meet that potential, and allows them to build connections across differences.
I remember feeling so satisfied after writing that last paragraph, like I’d actually figured out a way to communicate to the rest of the world what all of us involved in the network knew. It was magic.
Magic felt like this.
YNPN doesn’t work in spite of our open structure, it works because of our open structure.
We had named the secret sauce and it was good. But the self-satisfaction wore off pretty quickly after that because a looming question remained:
So how do you harness the power of something so open without killing it?
This is the struggle that has plagued YNPN almost since the earliest days of its national charter 10 years ago. I’ll be the first to admit, we’ve gotten the answer to this question wrong a few times. There was the brief period in the mid to late 2000s when we thought 30-page legal agreements were the way to build cohesion. Or the time we thought a really expensive, super-technical online membership platform would bring us all together. And of course there’s the decade-old belief that the only way for us to do anything as a network was if we had a shared 501(c)(3).
Although we were a forward-facing, intentionally creative space in all other ways, our first instinct was to adopt familiar structures instead of seeking out new models that might better fit our organizational culture.
So what did we decide to do? You’ll have to wait for Part 2 of this blog post to find out.
Seconds after the Grand Jury announcement came out of Missouri last night, my Facebook and Twitter feeds began to fill with #Ferguson and #BlackLivesMatter posts. Some were from friends expressing sorrow, outrage, disbelief. But most were from the nonprofit organizations I follow. I wasn’t at all surprised to see that organizations like Black Women’s Blueprint, Colorlines, and the Black Youth Project had powerful, thoughtful, full-fledged posts at the ready only moments after the news broke.
What did strike me, however, was that the posts didn’t stop there. #Ferguson and #BlackLivesMatter posts were flooding my feed from organizations covering a whole host of issue areas - folks like GetEqual, Resource Generation, Community Voices Heard and so many others showed up, each saying in their own way, “This has to stop. We must do better.”
“The nonprofit sector should be the secular conscience of society.”
It was something she said almost in passing, either because she was on her way to a larger point or because she assumed it was already a commonly held belief. Either way, it’s something that has always stuck with me. At the community level, the bold visions and focused missions of our organizations call out our values as a society. Many of us are called to this sector because we feel there is some wrong that needs to be righted or some group of people who is denied access to America’s promises – freedom, justice, health, and well being. Many of us are called to this sector not because we’ve lost faith in America but because we see the nonprofit sector as the way to both help fulfill and hold America accountable to its promise to every person who calls this place home.
I was reminded as I scrolled heavy-hearted through my feed that whatever our focused organizational mission, we also have the responsibility to call out and push back when something runs counter to values as a society. Our organizations have bold visions, and racism has no part in the world we are trying to create. As a sector it is our duty and our privilege to call that out.
Here are some tools to support you along the way:
- Racial Equity Tools
- The Aspen Institute: Ten Lessons for Taking Leadership on Racial Equity
- National Coalition for Deliberation and Dialogue: Ten Equity & Action Tools from Everyday Democracy
Photo by Elvert Barnes Protest Photography / Flickr.com
If you’re like me, you read through the 2014 Nonprofit Finance Fund State of the Sector report and breathed a sigh of relief. Not because the 2014 report paints a particularly rosy picture of where we are as a society and as a sector, mind you, but because the results of the 2009 survey are still seared into so many of our memories.
Yeah, you remember that survey--the one that spelled out so plainly what all of us were experiencing in our neighborhoods and our organizations: soaring demand for critical services (93% of organizations providing these services reported an increase in need) and plummeting resources (62% and 43% of organizations braced for foundation and government funding cuts respectively). The majority of respondents planned to operate at a deficit that year. Those were some pretty dark days, friends.
And like I said, it’s not that the 2014 report is calling for 7 days of high temps and sun. 80% of this year’s respondents are still anticipating increased need for their communities. But far fewer are operating at a deficit and the year over year comparison shows that funding prospects are essentially expected to remain level. So, while we're at a place where we're no longer in freefall, the sense memory of the freefall is still pretty acute.
What better time to have real conversations about the relationship between funders and grantees?
As you know from past posts, YNPN and EPIP have made a commitment to advancing the conversation about the power dynamics that exist between funders and grantees. We call this the Beans & Cornbread convo as a reference to the Louis Jordan & Tympany Five song about things that go together but sometimes just can’t get along. Rahsaan and I have been open about the fact that we don’t exactly have a 12-step plan for “advancing the conversation” but we do have a strong, shared desire to actively and thoughtfully experiment.
Members of YNPN & EPIP's NYC chapters talking funder-grantee relationships
As another step in the direction of figuring out how funders and grantees can go together and get along better, earlier this month we hosted a pilot dialogue circle which brought together 3 representatives from YNPN NYC and 3 representatives from EPIP NYC.
Over pizza and snacks, facilitator Lucretia John (formerly of the Funding Exchange) guided the group through some introductory questions about identity, hopes, and fears for the conversation, then opened up the floor for participants to reflect on three basic questions:
Who has power to create change in communities?
Who sets the priorities for change efforts?
Who defines impact?
As you can imagine, the responses to these questions raised even more questions. More importantly, early feedback tells us that the experience also highlighted the shared identities, goals, and attitudes of folks in the room, as well as an eagerness to learn more about each other and how we can use these stronger relationships to change how power plays out in social change work.
This is great news for the vast majority of this year’s NFF respondents who reported that they can’t have real conversations with their funders about anything other than expanding programs. And we all know that it takes more than that to build stronger communities.
You’ll be seeing a fuller synopsis of the pilot conversation and plans for next steps soon. In the meantime, check out the NFF Report and tell us in the comments below where you’re seeing signs of hope or how you think we should continue the conversation.
Last fall at the Independent Sector Conference, I was given the privilege of delivering a workshop on next generation leaders. For folks who don’t’ know, Independent Sector is a leadership network of 600 or so of the largest and most prominent nonprofits, foundations, and corporate giving programs in the country, and every year their annual conference brings together thousands of top leaders from these organizations. Essentially, Independent Sector is THE nonprofit establishment – so naturally they are interested in the future of the sector. Which is how I found myself in the pretty cool position to talk about next generation leaders.
As I prepared for this opportunity, though, I started to get a little stuck. As I tend to do when I’m given any task that seems a little too straightforward, I started to pick it apart.
I mean, what does it mean to be “next generation” anyway?
In the simplest of terms, it means that you’re the generation that came after the last one. And, sure, that’s who YNPN represents - Millennials and Gen Xers – the folks were born after the boomers who established the nonprofit sector as many of us know it.
But for some reason, using this cool space to talk about how great our constituents are seemed kind of...I don’t know. Small. And short-sighted. Because when you think about it, as a society in general and as a sector specifically, we’re in the midst of a shift that‘s “next generation” in a different way.
When you think of it in terms of your phone or of your operating system, next generation means something more than “younger” or “new,” right? And that phone or that OS isn’t inherently better because it’s younger or new. It’s not inherently better at all, actually. It’s only better if...
...it builds on what worked well and what people loved about the original.
...it directly fixes past mistakes - broken things and bugs.
...it incorporates new technology and solutions available to us now that weren’t available before.
...it looks fresh! The look and feel of it is updated to fit the current context.
When I started thinking about the concept of next generation this way, the potential of the conversation felt bigger, and frankly way more interesting. Mostly because I knew for a fact that even though Millennials and Gen Xers have a lot to contribute as natives to this more flexible, nimble way of approaching change work, every person and every organization in the sector, regardless of age or how established they are is called to be a part of this sector upgrade - this next generation of leadership. And I got to be the one to call it out in front of this giant audience.
This was my Steve Jobs moment.
So I put on my black mock turtleneck (sike. I rocked an orange batik dress), got up in front of the room, and laid out a few things:
First, I shared some lessons gathered from working with and observing folks out in the field who actually seem to be having an impact on some of the increasingly complex issues facing our communities.
Lesson 1: Focus on goals over form. If your plan or your organizational structure isn’t going to have an impact, be willing to change it.
Lesson 2: Relationships are everything. Cultivate them. Rely on them.
Lesson 3: Ignore intersectionality at your peril. The beautiful people in our communities are made up of lots of identities. The work we do with them will not succeed unless it recognizes and embraces all of those identities.
Lesson 4: Value community-centered solutions over silver bullets. Replication isn’t everything. Sometimes what works in Jackson, MS can only work in Jackson, MS. And that’s okay.
Lesson 5: Listen to data that speaks to both the head and the heart.
Then I turned the floor over to folks from three organizations that I think are already living and breathing this sector upgrade:
Ai-Jen Poo and the National Domestic Workers Alliance, whose intergenerational, intersectional, and humanistic Caring Across Generations campaign is audaciously and simultaneously taking on issues of immigration reform, quality care for an aging America, and a living wage for younger Americans.
Decker Ngongang from Echoing Green’s Black Male Achievement Fellowship Program, which is the first fellowship program in the world for folks who are starting up new and innovative organizations that address the barriers facing black men and boys in the United States.
Frances Kunreuther & Sean Thomas-Breitfeld of the Building Movement Project, who decided to go beyond simply researching and promoting alternative organizational structures for social justice organizations, but took on a radical co-leadership model within their own organization in order to increase their impact.
Finally, I talked about what YNPN does to try and cultivate rather than stifle this type of next generation leadership. You can read more about that here. (Note that there’s no mention of a need for more credentialing and certification programs... :)
The energy of the comments and conversations that followed once the session ended signaled that the message resonated and that despite what people may say about the sector establishment, folks are definitely ready for an upgrade.
And I think it’s subtly for a lot of the same reasons people would get excited for a new operating system or their new phone. It’s not just because they need the next thing that’s shiny. They’re excited to see what the collection of human knowledge and shared work has brought us to next - how we’ve taken the best ideas and brought them together to make something that might change the way that each of us lives our lives for the better. The sector is definitely ready.
Early on in my time as national director for YNPN, I was hanging out with a group of other, new-ish EDs and almost right away, talk turned to fundraising.
“I just have NO idea when I’m going to hear back from this guy,” one said. “He said there was a good chance we’d get funded this year but that was in February. IT’S AUGUST!!!”
“Yeah, I’m in the middle of writing this grant and I have no idea how much I’m supposed to ask for,” the other said. “I got a good vibe from the conversation but I just couldn’t figure out the actual ask. Does she want me to pitch $5000? Does she want me to pitch $500,000??? I literally have no idea.”
I remember staring back and forth between the two of them for awhile completely bewildered. Finally I offered what I thought was the obvious answer:
“Couldn’t you just call your program officer and ask her what’s up?”
They both looked at me for a moment, turned to each other, then burst out laughing. I remember they didn’t even bother to explain to me what was so funny.
Despite how it sounds, it wasn’t a mean girls moment. They weren’t actually laughing at me. They honestly thought I was making a joke. After a few months on the job, I figured out why they thought my suggestion was so absurd.
When I took the YNPN national director job, I was pretty new to fundraising. I’d worked on teams where I’d been deeply involved with fundraising but, to be honest, the only grants I’d ever written at that point were for our two major funders at the time--the Annie E. Casey Foundation and American Express. After a few months on the job, I had a much wider set of funder interactions to draw from, so I could understand a little better why my ED friends looked at me like I was an alien when I suggested treating their program officers the way you would any other colleague.
I feel fortunate, though, for my first experiences with Rafael Lopez from Casey and Richard Brown from AmEx, because they set the tone of partnership and mutual respect that grounds all the funding relationships YNPN seeks now and will seek for the life of our organization. Not only because it’s better for everyone involved, but because it’s the way that it’s actually supposed to be.
A few things that I’ve learned from those relationships that I carry with me:
- Great funding partners recognize that it’s their job to make grants. So they make it as clear and as simple as possible to do so.
- Great funding partners recognize that they can offer recommendations based on what else they are seeing in the field, but at the end of the day you know your organization and what your organization needs best.
- Great funding partners seek out ways to strengthen your work beyond writing a check. Offering meeting space or access to consultants or introductions to other like-minded funders can be just as valuable.
- Great funding partners make you feel like just that--a partner.
Over the past two years, our list of funding partners has been lucky enough to grow to slowly but surely include other amazing organizations like the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, the Packard Foundation, and the Newman’s Own Foundation, and the tone set by our early partners has held true.
We’re sending #nplove to these folks not only because of their financial generosity, but also because of the generosity of spirit that our partners have shown the network and the lessons they've taught us about how fulfilling relationships between funders and grantees can be.
The past several years of surveying and talking with our members have made it clear that Individual Coaching & Support is one of the most important pillars for personal and professional development.
Unfortunately, it's also the area that emerging leaders often have the least access to, both in terms of finding these resources and paying for them.
We here at YNPN believe very strongly that everyone should have access to individual coaching and support. The work of changing the world and building stronger communities is not only incredibly important, it’s also ridiculously complex. Understanding how each of us can best fit into that equation is also incredibly important and complex. So while sometimes all you need to be a better contributor is a really informative workshop and a solid network of community contacts, often times the help you need to figure out your contribution requires much more of a personal touch.
Sisters, Brothers, I’ve Been to the Coaching Mountaintop
When I took on the job of being the first national director of YNPN, nearly everyone I spoke with recommended that I find a coach.
“No, thank you,” I said. “Coaches are for ladies who lunch and people who read Eat, Pray, Love,” I explained helpfully. “I will rely on grit and sheer will to do this ridiculously hard thing that I’ve never done before. KThanksBye.”
Basically I saw coaching as too much of a privilege and an indulgence. But within two months of taking on the position, I was so desperate for help that I wasn’t even sheepish about going back to these folks and asking them to recommend someone--anyone--who could make me feel like the world wasn’t spinning.
I’ve worked with an executive coach now for over two years and have since become a bit of a proselytizer about its benefits. It does still feel like an enormous privilege to have someone providing me with such direct, individualized support every week. But rather than turning down something that I know is incredibly valuable for me because not everyone has access to it, I have made it part of my personal mission and our organizational mission to make sure that many more people can take advantage of this powerful tool.
So what’s a coach and what does a coach do?
Well, the International Coaches Federation describes coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” But when my friends and colleagues ask me about what my coach does, I basically say three things: She reminds me of my strengths, she helps me set priorities, and she convinces me each week that I’m not ruining everything. It’s kind of awesome.
Increasing access to coaching is just one of the targeted ways that we’re working to unlock the potential of an entire generation of social change leaders. You can help us zero in on the best strategy for helping members access coaching by completing this super-short survey and sharing it with your friends. Help us help you!
And if you want to read more about the transformative power of coaching, check out this blog post from one of our former LaunchPad Fellows, Betty-Jeanne Reuters-Ward.
By Trish Tchume, Executive Director of YNPN National
So I was sitting up one night last month, staring at my work to-do list, which was feeling long but totally manageable (save for this one, super-tedious data entry project that just felt way too sucky to ask any of my board members or Fellows to help me with). If you work for a small nonprofit organization with limited staff, you know this moment. Actually, if you’re a grown up with any sort of responsibilities at all, you know this moment. At any rate, I was having that moment.
Out of nowhere, a friend of mine (we’ll call her Kim) Gchats me to let me know she’s got some time on her hands and volunteers to do the sucky project for me. The weird thing is, I didn’t remember mentioning the project to her. Perhaps at some point when last we spoke, I was babbling about whatever was in my brain at the time and she managed to sift the project out of the mess and identify it as a way that she could help a friend.
The power of sector-wide generosity
In the moment, I was mostly feeling beyond grateful for Kim. But it also occurred to me that gifts like this are actually exchanged regularly amongst the incredible people I know who work in the sector. We do stuff like this for each other all the time without question.
The angst I was feeling though was over the fact that when we talk about what it’s like to work for a nonprofit via social media or even amongst these same family and friends, we so rarely lift this—our ability to create networks that support us and push us—up as one of our key characteristics or our core values. However, it is something that we do that not only makes us unique, but actually makes us incredibly powerful.
If we are to continue creating and cultivating networks that not only work for social change, but also nourish us and support us when we encounter setbacks, challenges, and burnout, we have to try the following:
View reliance on networks as a strength, not an inefficiency
Networking is not just a job search tool in the sector, it’s the way we get things done because our work is incredibly complicated. We’re not making widgets – we’re building a world where basic needs are met, communities are strong, and access to opportunity is equitable. With goals this audacious, there is no end to the universe of challenges and opportunities that will present themselves.
So we simply cannot (and should not) build organizations that can address every single opportunity and challenge that will ever arise.
Imagine if we took the fact that we already ARE networked in so many ways – we have staff that have moved between these organizations, provide different services to the same clients, and work on the same issues – and actually built this into our organizational strategy for achieving our mission. It would not only relieve us of the pressure to keep doing more with less, but would allow each organization to really focus on the things we do the best. And rest in the knowledge that collectively we can provide community members with what they need.
Cultivate your network by being generous
I was in a workshop a few years ago where we did an exercise. In column A, you had to list people you considered to be key contacts in your network. In column B, you had to list how you came to know that person. The first part of the exercise was more about mapping your network. But in column C, you were then supposed to take the people in column A and list all the people you’ve introduced them to. The idea was that building your network was not about how many people you collect and remembering where you got them so you can go back for more. It’s about cultivating those relationships.
There’s plenty of research now that confirms what we’ve probably always known instinctively: lots of nodes are better than one central hub. In other words, the most effective systems are ones in which people with helpful information are directly connected with each other rather than having to be routed through one central person. The strongest way to add value to a relationship is to help the other person (or organization) in that relationship build his or her network by introducing them to other people (or organizations) that they should know.
Actively ask for help
The step after thinking about other organizations as part of our mission is actually reaching out to them for help. In the story of my sucky project, I got lucky. I happened to be sharing my stress with Kim – an incredibly attentive friend who was able to pick up on the fact that I was struggling without my having to actually tell her. The thing is that not only would Kim have been just as willing to do the task if I had explicitly asked, if I had considered the possibility that I could ask for help instead of doing the whole thing myself, I probably would have approached the project way more creatively without necessarily adding more work for her as a volunteer.
I know. You’re thinking “It doesn’t make sense to turn everything into a shareable project. By the time I explain to someone else how to do it, I could have done it myself.” I hear you. And this logic is correct when we think about checking a task off our list as an end goal. But when you think about our work as nonprofits not only as service providers who accomplish a set of functions, but as a space to provide services and engage people (in whatever small way) in the act of building a better world, then it’s a lot harder to say that you can accomplish the same thing by just doing it on your own.
So it’s been about 9 months since you looked in your inbox and checked your Twitter feed, saw the words “Beans and Cornbread” for the first time, and thought:
Rahsaan and I sent out that note and posted this blog way back when, hoping to take a conversation that had been happening between the leaders of EPIP and YNPN National and put it where it belongs: out into our communities. You’ll remember, we said:
We got such a wide range of responses:
Some of you wanted to let us know that you were already building those bridges. (Shout out to all the EPIP/YNPN chapters that are already co-programming, like the Twin Cities chapters working together to build a cross-sector leadership development institute!)
Some of you YELLED AT US IN ALL CAPS FOR GETTING THAT SONG STUCK IN YOUR HEAD FOR DAYS! (#sorrynotsorry)
But, the VAST majority of folks we heard from wanted to say thanks. You talked about the fact that this issue of power is one that all of us struggle with--sometimes outwardly but often inwardly. And you were grateful for some space to sort it out and actually work through it.
Rahsaan and I were open and have continued to be open about the fact that we didn’t have much of a plan about the best way to create these spaces. Early on we agreed to be reflective and intentional about moving this conversation forward but we also agreed that it was okay to just see what opportunities to build momentum presented themselves.
And some great opportunities did!
At the Network level -
We learned via survey that there is great interest and excitement between EPIP and YNPN members to do more co-programming
EPIP opened up it’s annual conference to YNPN members in Chicago and invited Trish Tchume to take part. YNPN National selected Rahsaan to give a “Spark Speech” about power dynamics at their annual conference in Phoenix.
Beyond EPIP and YNPN
Trish and Rahsaan were invited to share this conversation with a wider group at the Whitman Institute Retreat in Santa Cruz, CA, where they co-facilitated a workshop discussion about power dynamics in the sector. Turns out younger leaders aren’t the only folks who are ready for this barrier to come down. The workshop included funders, grantees, younger, and older leaders - all of whom are calling for more spaces to work through these issues.
Following the Whitman Institute Jess Rimington of One World Youth Project decided to join Rahsaan and I as core organizers to move these conversations forward.
So what’s to come? We know that we need to keep widening this discussion to drill down to what people see as the true barriers and to work with those same folks to identify some workable short term and long term solutions. So our plan for now is to host a mid-sized gathering in New York to expand the conversation.
Where else are you seeing opportunities to address these issues on the ground. Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet feedback to #BandC_power. We’ll keep you engaged as well on how these conversations are developing and ways that you can connect to them virtually.
Because (sing it with us) Beans and Cornbread... we go hand in hand!
Last fall at a conference, I had the chance to sit in on a session facilitated by Kirk Kramer of the Bridgespan Group. During the session, Kirk shared a framework for developing organizational leaders laid out in a recent report written by he and his colleague Preeta Nayak entitled, What’s Your “Plan A” for Growing Future Leaders? If you haven’t had the chance to read the report yet, I highly recommend. It does a solid job of drawing the link between leadership development throughout an organization (especially younger leaders) and the growth and sustainability of any organization. It also couples this development with other key planning processes like budgeting and strategic planning. So Plan A pulls what is often seen as peripheral or an afterthought for most organizations into the center, encourages organizations to be proactive about this process, and (best yet) offers a step by step process for building an organizational culture that supports development. (Who doesn’t love step-by-step?)
Okay back to that conference...
Kirk shared during his session that Bridgespan’s Plan A framework had its roots in the Center for Creative Leadership’s “70-20-10” model. This model, based on extensive research, sets 70 percent on-the-job learning, 20 percent coaching and mentoring, and 10 percent formal training as the optimal mix for adult learning and development.
While I was quite familiar with the Center for Creative Leadership, before Kirk’s session, I had never heard of the 70-20-10 model, but found that it aligned almost exactly with YNPN’s “Pillars of Leadership Development” - four key areas that have our members have identified over YNPN’s 15 years as most valuable to their own leadership development.
The missing link from the 70-20-10 model, however, that so many of our members site as essential to their own growth is “access to a networks.” As I travel the country meeting with members, I hear time and again that skills-based trainings provided by organizations like ours, coaching and mentoring (which chapters are increasingly offering), and a place to apply those skills via “stretch” opportunities on the job or even board service are important pieces of their work to grow as effective change agents. But YNPNers cite just as equally the importance of being able to have these experiences in community and to access and discover new opportunities via the network.
So as giants in the field of sector research and leadership development continue to refine these models for building stronger leaders and more effective organizations for addressing society’s most pressing problems, it is important not to overlook the critical importance of networks. Next generation leaders know that individual and even organizational development falls short without connection and collaboration.