Life, the Universe, and Everything*

     Musings from Linda and LUE-42 Enterprises   

Upcoming Events   NOVEMBER
November is Bullying Awareness Month

1 Authors Day
2 Deviled Egg Day
8 Intern'l Tongue Twister Day
11 Remembrance Day
13 World Kindness Day
14 World Diabetes Day (UN)
15 Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day
19 World Philosophy Day (UN)
20 Universal Childrens Day (UN)
21 World Television Day (UN)
25 Intern'l Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women (UN)
27 Buy Nothing Day
29 Grey Cup!!!

Shout Out!
A big thanks to some who made my life better in October

MaryJane Alanko
Judy Dittmar
Liz Garratt
Joe Howdle
Bev Mahood
Lynn MacAskill
Doug Macnamara
Kelly McClung
Lyn McDonell
Beth Sanders
Kim Tanasichuk
Theresa Tsoukalas
Dana, Jaime, & Shelley Steffensen
Bev West

"Act as if what you do makes a difference.
It does."
~William James
Nest City News (A newsletter about community planning)
Click Here

New Pathways for the Arts
(An exciting & innovative training/ immersion program for NFP arts orgs)
Click Here

Skippyjon Jones
(So much fun to read aloud)
Click Here

SNL Sketch on Millennials w/Miley Cyrus
(Very funny to Boomers like me)
Click Here  
LUE-42 Enterprises  (My NEW website is up) 

Heard in the Board Room

Benefits of Local Food
Don't Regret Your Choices
Reader Notes
Wish I'd said that...

Books by Moi   


Understanding Bylaws: A Guide for Directors of Not-For-Profit Organizations

ISBN 978-0-9866030-0-6


 Exceptional Board Members, Exception Boards 

ISBN 978-0-9866030-1-3



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Issue:  #57                  

November 2015


At Zoofest with Jerry the goat (his brother Ben was camera shy)

I did not realize when I bought that top it was billy goat-coloured. You have to look very closely to spot the goat! The goats were so sweet, but now I have mixed feelings about the blouse.  

     October was absolutely jam-packed, wasn't it? For me it started and ended with music.
     It kicked off with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra playing Pink Floyd (it's way cool to be given glow-sticks at the symphony!). We also attended "The Who Live in Hyde Park" a terrific new film honouring 50 years of The Who. On Sundays I've been listening to a live blog from the Goose Creek Symphony fan page called The Gospel. They post up music videos of all sorts (not necessarily gospel, but always on a theme). I've heard some great old stuff and have been introduced to artists that wouldn't normally cross my path. It's enriching. I ended the month with a LIVE performance of Rocky Horror Picture Show at a fundraiser for Alberta Playwrights' Network. What a blast!

     October also included a celebration of life for my friend and mentor John Steffensen, FCMC. I was privileged to Emcee the event and it was wonderful to hear the stories of how John touched so many lives, and also to see so many people from my past life with the Institute of Certified Management Consultants.
     October was also Read In Week and I read 3 books to 4 different classes. The little ones (and me!) just love Skippyjon Jones!

     I attended the Edmonton Eskimos annual dinner, a big ticket item that is, admittedly, much more fun when your team is winning. Actually for me, any time spent in the company of CFL players and alumni is a very good day.
     I also attended the AGM and a workshop in conjunction with the Canadian Society of Association Executives annual conference. What a treat to see so many familiar faces of the leaders who keep Canada's NFP sector ticking!
     I recently had coffee with a colleague who has been researching the impact on our communities of aging Baby Boomers. Beth Sanders article " Elderhood vs. Fighthood" talks about how Boomers might choose to leave the work force. She asks, "Are we going to mentor people into the world we paved for them and be gracious as we turn over the reigns, or are we going to fight them?" It's a valid question as we can all think of examples of people doing it both ways. This is discussed fully in her October newsletter (link in the left column). I'd like to think I'll be one of the generous and graceful ones, but we'll see.
     My new website is up! I had the last one for 10 years and never tired of the theme -- that no matter how you know me, if you go through any door, you'll find the rest of me. This was my attempt (successful, too) to break down the silos in my life. Boards ran into theatre and football; football ran into funerals; funerals ran into governance, and so on. Now in the new website, it's just me. All in. A little bit whimsical. No apologies.
     Are you surprised I've gone this far without talking about the election? I think we've heard enough so my job as a citizen is, as always, to keep our leaders in my prayers and hope for good decisions for the right reasons. And when that doesn't happen, to speak up and find ways to ensure the right things are done for the right reasons. No matter who is governing, I admire and thank the people who step up to public service
     And speaking of those who provide the ultimate service and sacrifice, if you are in the Edmonton area on November 11 and are looking for a way to honour Remembrance Day, come out to the Edmonton International Airport for 10:45 a.m. We've got everything -- an honour guard, a cenotaph, a pipe band -- join us in marking this important day.
In war, there are no unwounded soldiers. 
~José Narosky

The Answer   

     Board engagement (lack of) is probably the main complaint I hear from associations. Much has been written and much has been tried, and yet sometimes Board members still don't do what we expect them to do! 
     I attended a session this month on Governing with Intention by Watson. It was good validation that what I've been saying to boards for many years is still true, but the ideas we generated in groups really added value. 
     I recently read an article by Elizabeth Watson QC called "An Engaged Board is a Powerful Board." She asks whether your board is doing its work or just going through the motions, adding that there is a direct correlation between proper board engagement and organizational success. So you see, it's in our best interests to make sure we have the right people doing the right things. 
     Watson lists the following signs your board is disengaged.  

     Typically, the issues that result in a lack of engagement are:

     Watson argues that "engaging" is bigger than team-building exercises (and she's correct). By getting to the underlying ailments you can see the change you need. Her suggestion for building a better board, that governs with intention:

     These aren't new for most of you. In fact, I'm sure I've referenced this exact article before! So why are your board members still disengaged? Again, it's probably because we work on the symptoms and not the causes.  

     It really does mean investing the time (of busy people) to get to the underlying issues. I wouldn't be surprised if you dig up "trust issues" between management and the board or if there is "weak leadership" that no one wants to mention because they don't want to hurt feelings.  

     I'd also bet that the board is asking for (and you're providing) the wrong information. Many board members like details and ask for more and more. We give it to them thinking they'll stop bugging us...but they never do. Never. So we need to keep pushing them up to the higher view. This much is true: More details never allows us to the conversation we need.  

     So be brave! Remind them what their job is, give them the information and education to do their job, and hold them accountable to do it. You're much more likely to get what you need from them.

     Good luck!



And now a personal anecdote. While ranting recently about roles and responsibilities, details versus higher level conversations, etc. a board member stopped me in my tracks. "But Linda," he said, "Sometimes you just godda step out of those brown leather governance shoes and just pick a good old fight!" Thanks, Keith. You made me take a deep breath and remember to not take it all quite so seriously. That's such a gift.
Crisis Management  

     In the  The NonProfit Times (Oct 8, 2015) I read the article 7 Tips for Handling a Crisis. (Who couldn't use that?) They state that a t a recent seminar, Nonprofit Risk Management Center Executive Director Melanie L. Herman offered these seven steps for crisis handling:
  1. Decide upon leadership roles within your organization regarding their roles in a crisis.
  2. Identify key audiences in the event of a crisis. This could include board members, employees, volunteers, service recipients, funders, donors, business partners, vendors, media, regulatory agencies, and the general public.
  3. Prepare key communication pieces before a crisis. Have answers to questions such as what your organization does, the population it serves, and how it is funded.
  4. Pick your response platform and stick to it. Key platform messages include "we value safety," "we value our employees and volunteers," "we are fiscally responsible," "our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this tragedy," and "we are doing all we can to ensure that this never happens again."
  5. Own up to mistakes. Provide updates and remember that saying sorry doesn't cost anything, can diffuse anger, and is capable of reducing the risk of litigation.
  6. Keep a crisis activities log. Track when a member of the organization takes a crisis-response-related action.
  7. Debrief with a self-assessment. What were the major causes of the crisis? Were there warning signs? Was the existing crisis plan useful? What changes should be made to the plan?
There's not much more to the article than what I've captured here, but if you want to see it Click Here

Reputation Management  

     In (Oct 14, 2015) I read William Comcowich's blog "Who Should be In Charge of Corporate Reputation Management?" It seemed timely as in recent months I've seen several organizations (NFP and corporate) getting smeared in the public and media. The attacks always make me question: Why aren't they responding? Shouldn't someone say something on behalf of the company? It makes it all seem fishy (yes, I know there could be good reasons to be silent).
     Anyway, Comcowich says the biggest problem with reputation management is that no one person is responsible for managing a company's reputational risk. Specifically, he says, "Many different corporate departments including public relations, marketing, brand management, and risk management share some level of responsibility for reputation management." The view that everyone is responsible may in reality mean no one is. This is dangerous as "a reputation developed carefully over the years may crumble overnight under the onslaught of social media attacks."
     Comcowich's solution (admittedly, for larger organizations) is to install a Chief Reputation Officer. He argues that reputation management is proactive, whereas crisis management is reactive. He also says it's not marketing/PR or risk management either - that it reaches into every corner of the organization. He adds that the position must have broad powers and must have the "the ear and full respect of the CEO and the authority to identify reputation risks and compel fixes...empowered to speak truth to the king who has no clothes." In short, whether it's a separate position or tacked onto an existing role, there must be access, trust, responsibility, or authority.
     He adds that while holding ultimate responsibility, most CEOs and Boards don't have the time or inclination for the day-to-day operational responsibilities of corporate reputation management.
     In his view, the Senior Corporate Reputation Manager would:
  • Assess the company's reputation,
  • Evaluate the reality of the company's reputation,
  • Identify and close gaps between reputation and reality,
  • Monitor stakeholder beliefs and expectations,
  • Monitor and benchmark peer performance in the industry,
  • Continually measure and monitor the company's reputation.
     Comcowich's bottom line is that assigning reputational risk management to a single person creates accountability and a single point to ascertain, protect, and improve a corporation's reputation.
      I think this is an excellent idea; however, I don't know many organizations that can pull this off. In my experience if there was money for just one more position, I'd probably invest in competent HR capacity. I find, in general, that many associations really lack that. My $.02.

Here's the article Click Here

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