Life, the Universe, and Everything*

     Musings from Linda and LUE-42 Enterprises   

Upcoming Events   AUGUST

AUGUST is Romance Awareness Month
2 -- Friend's Day
7 -- Intern'l Beer Day
8 -- Intern'l Cat Day
9 -- Intern'l Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples (UN)
12 -- Intern'l Youth Day (UN)
12 -- Vinyl Record Day
19 -- World Humanitarian Day (UN)
22 -- Be an Angel Day
13-23 -- Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival

Shout Out!


A big thanks to some who made my life better in July 


 Bonnie Andriachuk

Andrea Beca

Pat Bragg

Barry Cavanaugh

Julie Dandenault 

Liz Garratt 

Carrie Habinski

Russ Heppell 

Karen MacKenzie

Bev Mahood

Peter Portlock

Kathy Roy   


"No one who achieves success does so without the help of others. The wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude."  

-- Alfred North Whitehead

Websites/Links (Good info on NFP sector)

Click Here  


Chris & Dave Hadfield's Gift to Canada (It's great, eh)  

Click Here 


Listening to Shame (TEDTalk by Brene Brown)

Click Here 


Rearranged (My film debut for the EDMA)

Click Here


Cat Lending Library (Try it in your office)

Click Here 



LUE-42 Enterprises  

a Mentor


Heard in the Board Room

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: #54                                  

August 2015



    July seemed a long month which, when you think of it, is exactly what you want in a summer -- except for the forest fires and wild weather that caused untold heartache for so many Canadians.
     It was good to be back at Commonwealth Stadium
(vs. Fort McMurray) where the seats are wide enough that you can stand up and cheer a good play or let someone get by. I also got to enjoy the cushy seats of the Jubilee Auditorium for a performance of Lion King. I wish I had half the imagination that the creators of that production have!
     In July I got cast in an on-line commercial for an association! No lines, but I had a blast. It's impressive to see how all that film gets cut into a 30 second piece -- so different from stage productions.
     Speaking of different, I'll be rolling out a new website in the next couple of months. Pat MacDonald, my long-suffering web master of ten years, has retired. She gave me a year's notice but I ignored her. Turns out she was serious. She deserves a break from me but I don't know how I can ever thank her for her competence, patience, and many kindnesses. I miss you already, Pat!
     I also miss the preparing for the Fringe this year. True, I am still exhausted from having two of my plays tour earlier this year, but now that so many of my friends are in rehearsals, I'm feeling left out. I really need to write a new play!
     Are you the kind of person who reads obituaries? I am (fascinating, aren't they?). I just saw one for a man I knew in the 1990s. I was working for a professional association and, for a variety of circumstances, he became ineligible to remain a member of the profession and as Registrar it was my job to tell him so. He reacted by making threats pertaining to his gun collection and the damage it could do to me.
     After he hung up on me, bizarrely, my next move was to thumb through the policy manual to find the correct procedure for dealing with death threats from a member. When I didn't find one (!) I called a few EDs to see if they had one. (I know, I know...). No one was around, but eventually my pal John said, " This isn't a policy matter! Get out, tell building security, and call the police!" Until that moment I just couldn't connect the dots to see the danger.
     That weird episode reminded me what belongs in policy (stuff the helps the organization do its work consistently and fairly) and what doesn't (exceptions to address one individual's needs/preferences). It was a lesson I won't forget.
     In 2005 I got a death threat from a member of another profession because our meeting venue served coffee in styrofoam cups instead of china. You just never know what people are going to care about! I wasn't surprised we didn't have a policy on that (see, I learned), and I knew just what to do. Oh, and here's some free advice -- don't ever take deviled eggs off the menu if your group is used to having them! (That one was a threat of violence, not death, but still shocking).
     These examples of horrible behaviour happened before social media. Now, people are much quicker to be threatening and cruel. " Shaming" has emerged as the thing to do, and no matter the situation, there's a posse of people ready to shame you for doing it/thinking it/being it/eating it, etc.
     Shame is defined as "A painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behaviorA loss of respect or esteemUsed to reprove someone for something of which they should be ashamedA regrettable or unfortunate situation or action." 
     Recently a NFP did something that most of us have wanted to do for years -- they changed their volunteer policy so they could match skills and interests with the needs of the organization. Unfortunately, they made mistakes in communicating the changes. An aggrieved volunteer put it on social media and within minutes (literally) it became a public relations nightmare for this NFP.
     The mob mentality escalated, with people seizing the opportunity to remark on things that a) had nothing to do with the new policy and/or b) they know nothing about (e.g., How do they know the best time for the Executive Director's vacation or who really deserves to be fired?). The backlash was based on shame ("you are wrong") instead of pointing out that a thing the organization did may have been wrong. That's an important difference, in my view.
     After parsing out comments that support the volunteer and constructive criticism, they were left with hundreds of uninformed comments, most laced with vitriol, and threats to boycott the organization, its sponsors, and anyone involved. The potential "hurt" surpassed the original problem by a long shot, and the whole episode was heartbreaking to me.
     When an organization/person is being ganged up on in social media, apologies and commitments to do better seem to be lost while the venom just keeps getting recirculated. People didn't seem to understand they could support the volunteer without denouncing the organization. But instead, they bullied, putting someone down so their own status could be elevated ("Gee, aren't I a great citizen because I support this volunteer's grievance?"). NO, you are a great citizen when you can support the volunteer and actively help the organization get back to a point where you can support it again. In my world, smear campaigns are inconsistent with being a great citizen. Fortunately, some legitimate help emerged and they are now rolling out a plan. Eventually a better outcome will occur, but did there need to be so much hurt and drama along the way?
     All of this makes me wonder how much longer our Not-for-Profits will be able to attract quality staff and board members. It's one thing to be protected against liability, but when a social media mob comes calling, I worry that we won't have the stomach to take them on. I picture ominous shadows, wagging one finger to shame us while another finger is perched above the "send" button, ready to tear us all down for the slightest infraction. 
     Shameful acts do go on all the time, but I think we should be able to differentiate what is shameful from what was a mistake or what might have occurred early on someone's learning curve. How about a little more grace (Def'n: c ourteous goodwill), people?
Goodness is about character - integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage, and the like. More than anything else, it is about how we treat other people.

The Answer   






I confess to being a late and reluctant adopter of dashboards, but that's not because they're not great (they are!). It's because I am not a visual person. While most people respond better to pictures and graphics, I am wired for words and narrative. But for you, dear readers, I'm going to suck it up and use words to tell you why you might want to use pictures.  

In "The Non-Profit Dashboard" Lawrence Butler (available through tells us that the purpose of a dashboard is to "engender thought, insight, and...good questions" and that effective dashboards will help each board member to engage in a meaningful way and bring out the wisdom, talent, and experience of the entire board. That sounds good, doesn't it? Butler lists ten benefits of working with a dashboard:

  1. Save time by reviewing highlights. It's a high level overview, not a substitute for all the info a board needs. Use the key indicators as prompts of where to seek more details.
  2. Track progress toward goals. Each initiative from the strategic plan will have a set of measures on the dashboard.
  3. Understand system dynamics. It can reveal how one factor can affect another in producing bottom line results.
  4. Spot potential problems. You can see instantly when certain performance metrics stray outside of acceptable ranges.
  5. Identify patterns and anomalies among similar entities. If multiple programs/operating units are displayed on a single page, you can discern patterns and request request explanations.
  6. Identify patterns and anomalies among diverse factors. If a single entity is displayed on a single page, you can begin to recognize patterns and relationships.
  7. Expand board member comfort zones. Metrics and graphic displays feel more "accessible" and this could result in a board member expanding her/his comfort zone and becoming more fully engaged.
  8. Bring all board members up to speed around a shared knowledge base. With a recurring reminder of what is important, more board members will become conversant with more aspects of the organization, which should lead to better governance and improve the organization.
  9. Maintain a governance perspective. If designed to focus on mission impact and outcomes, strategic effectiveness, and fiduciary oversight it helps the board to perform its essential governance role rather than slip into a surrogate management role.
  10. Reinforce board oversight by linking to structure and process. Use the dashboard as a component of a complete governance structure including committees.

The main models of dashboards are scorecard, graphic, or digital (or a combination of all). I am more familiar with a scorecard and anything using the traffic light colours (red=danger, amber=caution/monitor, green=proceeding on track).  


If you want your mind blown by the many possibilities, just Google "Non Profit Dashboards" and then look at the Images. Here are links to just a few samples.

Indiana Museum of Art

Blue Avocado


Many others...


Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words, and while I prefer the thousand words, most of your board members do not. A dashboard is a great way to show them what's what. There's no need to make it difficult -- just make sure it's meaningful. Good luck and if you feel like sharing your board's dashboard, I'd love to see it. 



Myth Busting


Chatelaine Magazine (Aug 2015) busted a few myths I believed most of my life, and their explanations have the science to back it. Have a look!
  • Gum stays in your stomach 7 years. False -- it's out in 3 days
  • Staring at an eclipse causes blindness. False -- but it can cause damage
  • Cracking your knuckles causes arthritis. False -- no higher rates of osteoarthritis
  • We only use 10% of our brains. False -- all our brain cells are active
  • You lose most of your body heat through your head. False -- You lose heat from any part of your body that is exposed to the cold
  • Eating bananas keeps mosquitos away. False, but rubbing the inner skin on a bite makes it less itchy

Guess I can go back to cracking my knuckles and swallowing my gum!

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