What New Executive Directors Have in Common with a TV Host

Last week, I wrote a bit to encourage new executive directors, especially those following a founder. On Sunday, I read the piece in Sunday’s print Washington Post Arts & Style section on current host of The Daily Show, Trevor Noah (similar but different story by same writer, WaPost online). What jumped out were the observations and[…]

Dear Executive Director Following a Founder

At least a few times a year, I find myself saying that the hardest job in the nonprofit sector is that of the new executive director following the founder. Having been one (with only limited success), having supported some through different consulting engagements, and having worked with founders and executives at every point in the organizational life[…]


How Many Board Committees Should We Have?

Q: How many board committees should our nonprofit have? A: As few as you need.  Lots of Executive Directors and Board Chairs make what turns out to be a burdensome mistake by setting up a traditional board structure with lots of committees. There’s Finance, Development, the Executive Committee, the Audit Committee, and Board Recruitment and Development, and[…]

Principled Program Design

Last year in January, I was invited to give a talk at my alma mater, the University of Kansas, to help set up a weekend charrette for student teams to create architectural and design solutions to community problems related to water and food security. The slides here helped me tell the story of our evolving work to co-design a comprehensive, innovative strategy[…]

Questioning Failure

A guest post by researcher, consultant, and colleague Florence Navarro. In September the Unreasonable Institute’s blog ran a story about what I call the ‘succesful’ failure of Liga Masiva, http://unreasonable.is/closing-your-company-consciously/ a fair trade coffee company which sold directly from farmers in Latin America to North American customers. The article praised the company for its approach[…]

Summer 2011 Update

ChangeMatters is a strategic consultancy serving early-stage “common good enterprises” in the US and abroad, through planning, training, development, and technical assistance.

Building Charismatic Organizations

Last night, I finished reading Shirley Sagawa’s book on building magnetic nonprofits. Lots of underlining and sticky notes! Here is one paragraph that sung out to me as particularly perfect in two projects ChangeMatters is working on now (a major gifts, including storytelling, workshop and an arts organization turnaround). How compelling, how inviting, how engaging[…]

Moving from Startup to What?

How many founders recognize this point in the organizational life cycle? Led by vision and passion, the founder brings an almost heroic commitment to the cause. A small number of other highly committed volunteers and relatively low-paid staff keep operations afloat. The organization is entrepreneurial and jumps on opportunities. It focuses on accomplishing mission, creating[…]