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Expert-Generalist

Depth + Breadth

It’s often said, “when the only tool you have is a hammer, everything is a nail.” What if you had a whole toolbox? Grow Meaningful is an expert-generalist OD & Capacity Building agency that “specializes” in bringing together all sorts of divergent ideas, perspectives, and experiences that help your nonprofit:

  • become more effective, adaptable, and resilient

  • pursue meaningful change

  • work through problems with no clear solutions

  • engage more while managing less

  • see without the constraint of specialist lenses or department silos

  • ​tap into collective wisdom of stakeholders

  • #GrowMeaningful

 

Meaning Matters

Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast

Every nonprofit and business is an individual player in an infinite game with no clear rules or winners (more on that here). Only by adopting an infinite game mindset and innovatively advancing causes larger than any one person will you develop a meaningful nonprofit brand and resilient organization capable of sustaining the will and resources necessary to keep playing indefinitely. After all, "great leaders see money as fuel, not a destination."


It doesn't matter if you're an owner, board member, employee, or customer– the key to truly catalytic engagement, authentic memorable experiences, and enduring transformations will always be whether you find something meaningful. And meaning, more than anything else, is how you keep playing the infinite game.

 

Favorite Approaches

In Conjunction with Classic Strategic Planning

The following are my favorite concepts to incorporate, teach, and facilitate usage of. The citations for quoted descriptions are included below.

Dialogic Organization Development (OD)

"Instead of providing visions and top down implementation of plans, generative change leaders host conversations where diverse views and ideas lead to the emergence of new possibilities."

Map of Meaning

The Map of Meaning (based on peer-reviewed, empirical, academic research) can offer new insights into specific aspects of meaningful work, as well as provide a complete approach to organizational transformation.

Infinite Mindset

"Leaders who embrace an infinite mindset build stronger, more innovative, more inspiring organizations full of trust that have the resilience to thrive in an ever-changing world."

WHY Discovery Sessions

Using a proven workshop format from Simon Sinek's "Find Your Why" manual, a WHY Discovery Session helps individuals and groups understand and describe the purpose that drives them to help find clarity, meaning, fulfillment, and organizational alignment.

Stagings for the Experience & Transformation Economies

Customers are no longer satisfied with mere goods and services– they seek out and pay premiums for memorable experiences and transformations. The same is true for today's employees demanding engaging, meaningful work and opportunities for personal growth.

80/20 Rule (Pareto)

The most reliable way to "work smart, not hard", the 80/20 Rule (also known as the Pareto Principle) has been proven again and again: 80% of X comes from 20% of Y. Use it to analyze problems, discover possibilities, simplify processes, and streamline operations.

Logotherapy

Logotherapy is a psychological school of thought focusing on an individual's search for meaning in life. Understanding this universal motivation can help employers build human-centered workplaces, grow purpose-driven cultures, identify hidden sources of resistance to organizational change, and deeply engage with customers.

DISC & EQ

Culture eats strategy for breakfast! When hiring, rely less on stated experience and coached interview responses, and more on "fit" using non-discriminatory behavioral science (this is not MBTI). Get the right people on the bus, help them find the right seat, and then decide where you should go.

Human Systems Dynamics

Human systems dynamics (HSD) creates opportunities out of chaos. HSD methods give you power to see patterns in complexity. You will understand your most wicked problems in new and useful ways. Most important, you will take innovative action to move past biggest challenges and toward future success.

 

Dialogic Organization Development (OD)

"...[D]ialogic methods seem to be especially effective when dealing with two types of contemporary issues. One is when the prevailing ways of thinking, talking about, and addressing organizational dilemmas traps an organization and its leaders in repetitive but futile responses. The other is when facing wicked problems, paradoxical issues and adaptive challenges, where there is little agreement about what’s happening and where there are no known solutions or remedies available to address the situation.


Dialogic approaches work by fostering generativity to develop new possibilities rather than problem-solving, altering the prevailing narratives and stories that limit new thinking, and working with the self-organizing, emergent properties of complex systems. Dialogic OD offers a viable alternative to the create a vision, plan a path to it, and implement through action teams practice of organizational change, and is better able to meet some of the challenging complexities of twenty-first century organizing."


(-Gervase R. Bushe and Robert J. Marshak, the "fathers" of Dialogic OD; source)

 

Map of Meaning™ Framework

"Create work worth doing, a life worth living, and organizations worth having." (-Marjolein Lips-Wiersma, creator of Map of Meaning)


The Map of Meaning (based on peer-reviewed, empirical, academic research) can offer new insights into specific aspects of meaningful work, as well as provide a complete approach to organizational transformation. Start where you can in areas like:

  • career development

  • motivation and resilience

  • leadership/management

  • empowerment and engagement

  • strategic planning

  • sustainability

  • change management

  • performance review

  • team building


Use the Map of Meaning to increase: 

  • your wisdom as a leader

  • motivation and engagement – yours and theirs

  • shared purpose organization wide

  • co-operation and empathy

  • fairness and morality

  • your ability to think in revolutionary ways about business

  • your ability to hold your organization to account


(source)​

 

Infinite Mindset

The following is a summary from the website of Simon Sinek, author of "The Infinite Game" (a favorite book of mine):

"In finite games, like football or chess, the players are known, the rules are fixed, and the endpoint is clear. The winners and losers are easily identified.


In infinite games, like business or politics or life itself, the players come and go, the rules are changeable, and there is no defined endpoint. There are no winners or losers in an infinite game; there is only ahead and behind.

The more Simon started to understand the difference between finite and infinite games, the more he began to see infinite games all around us. He started to see that many of the struggles that organizations face exist simply because their leaders were playing with a finite mindset in an infinite game. These organizations tend to lag behind in innovation, discretionary effort, morale and ultimately performance.


The leaders who embrace an infinite mindset, in stark contrast, build stronger, more innovative, more inspiring organizations. Their people trust each other and their leaders. They have the resilience to thrive in an ever-changing world, while their competitors fall by the wayside. Ultimately, they are the ones who lead the rest of us into the future.


Simon now believes that the ability to adopt an infinite mindset is a prerequisite for any leader who aspires to leave their organization in better shape than they found it." (source)

 

WHY Discovery Sessions

In 2012, I attended a conference on managing organizational culture change that featured a relatively no-named Simon Sinek speaking about how great leaders inspire action by "starting with why." I was overcome by its simplicity and universality. His similar-era TEDx talk would go on to become one of the top three most viewed TED talks of all time, and his books all would become best sellers. Watch the talk (here).


A WHY Discovery Session is a structured, facilitated process of uncovering the origin story (WHY) of an individual, a particular group / team, / division, or even entire organization; "nested why's" are also discoverable.

 

Stagings for the Experience & Transformation Economies

"In 2020, Joe Pine and his partner James H. Gilmore re-released in hardcover The Experience Economy: Competing for Customer Time, Attention, and Money... The book demonstrates how goods and services are no longer enough; what companies must offer today are experiences – memorable events that engage each customer in an inherently personal way. It further shows that in today’s Experience Economy companies now compete against the world for the time, attention, and money of individual customers. The Experience Economy has been published in fifteen languages and was named one of the 100 best business books of all time by 800ceoread (now Porchlight)." (source)

Watch an overview of this concept (here).

 

80/20 Rule (Pareto)

From the 80/20 Principle author's website:

The 80/20 Principle is the cornerstone of results-based living. Read this book and use it.” (-Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek)

"How anyone can be more effective with less effort by learning how to identify and leverage the 80/20 principle - the well-known, unpublicized secret that 80 percent of all our results in business and in life stem from a mere 20 percent of our efforts.

'The 80/20 principle is one of the great secrets of highly effective people and organizations.'

Did you know, for example, that 20 percent of customers account for 80 percent of revenues? That 20 percent of our time accounts for 80 percent of the work we accomplish? The 80/20 Principle shows how we can achieve much more with much less effort, time, and resources, simply by identifying and focusing our efforts on the 20 percent that really counts. Although the 80/20 principle has long influenced today’s business world, author Richard Koch reveals how the principle works and shows how we can use it in a systematic and practical way to vastly increase our effectiveness, and improve our careers and our companies.

The unspoken corollary to the 80/20 principle is that little of what we spend our time on actually counts. But by concentrating on those things that do, we can unlock the enormous potential of the magic 20 percent, and transform our effectiveness in our jobs, our careers, our businesses, and our lives." (source)

 

Logotherapy

"Logotherapy was developed by neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl ... Logotherapy is based on an existential analysis focusing on [...] a will to meaning as opposed to Alfred Adler's Nietzschean doctrine of will to power or Freud's will to pleasure. Rather than power or pleasure, logotherapy is founded upon the belief that striving to find meaning in life is the primary, most powerful motivating and driving force in humans. A short introduction to this system is given in Frankl's most famous book, Man's Search for Meaning, in which he outlines how his theories helped him to survive his Holocaust experience and how that experience further developed and reinforced his theories." (source)

"According to Frankl, 'We can discover this meaning in life in three different ways: (1) by creating a work or doing a deed; (2) by experiencing something or encountering someone; and (3) by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering' and that 'everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances.'

On the meaning of suffering, Frankl gives the following example: 'Once, an elderly general practitioner consulted me because of his severe depression. He could not overcome the loss of his wife who had died two years before and whom he had loved above all else. Now how could I help him? What should I tell him? I refrained from telling him anything, but instead confronted him with a question, "What would have happened, Doctor, if you had died first, and your wife would have had to survive you?:" "Oh," he said, "for her this would have been terrible; how she would have suffered!" Whereupon I replied, "You see, Doctor, such a suffering has been spared her, and it is you who have spared her this suffering; but now, you have to pay for it by surviving and mourning her." He said no word but shook my hand and calmly left the office.'" (source)

 

DISC & EQ

I am experienced in using TTI Success assessments for restructuring an organization, benchmarking new positions, and hiring for fit. I will soon be a certified TTI Success Consultant. Here is some information on two of their more familiar assessments, DISC and EQ (source):

Measured in four proportions (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance), Behaviors/DISC reveal how an individual will perform, including how they prefer to communicate, what he or she will bring to a team, his or her ideal environment and possible limitations he or she may face.

Our behavioral research suggests that the most effective people are those who understand themselves, both their strengths and weaknesses, so they can develop strategies to meet the demands of their environment.

TTI Success Insights’ assessments measuring Behaviors/DISC examine an individual’s dominance, influence, steadiness and compliance, revealing the ways in which one responds to the following:

  • Problems and Challenges

  • Influencing Others

  • Pace of Environment

  • Rules and Procedures

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Emotional Intelligence is an individual’s ability to sense, understand and effectively apply the power and acumen of emotions to facilitate high levels of collaboration and productivity.

Our research indicates that successful leaders and superior performers have well developed EQ skills. This enables them to work well with a wide variety of people and respond effectively to the rapidly changing conditions in the business world.

EQ examines five key areas pertaining to intrapersonal and interpersonal relations:

  • Self Awareness

  • Self Regulation

  • Motivation

  • Social Awareness

  • Social Regulation

 

Human Systems Dynamics

"Complex environments create sticky problems. Change makes yesterday's answers irrelevant today. Human systems dynamics offers powerful theory and practice to transform intractable problems into patterns of possibility...

The future is in your hands. HSD can help you address your most intractable issues. See your challenges in remarkable new ways; understand what is holding you and your team back; and take real action, in the moment, to break free." (source)