Wednesday, February 15, 2017

What Change Should You Lead?

If you could change one thing in your organization that would make a REAL difference in the IMPACT you make, what would it be?

What do you have to lose by giving it a try???

Start by sharing your thoughts with a few people you trust to test your idea.  If others agree then get more people on board.  And then – when the timing is right – broaden your movement to more people.

The timing is not always right and sometimes it takes years of persistence to make a big change.  That is the story of Carmen Medina as told in the book she co-authored with Lois Kelly, Rebels at Work.  

Carmen had big ideas of changes she wanted to make at the CIA regarding the way information was shared.  But, especially as a Puerto Rican woman, her ideas were rebuffed.  She persevered over years, though, and made it happen.  She was a leader in creating Intellipedia – an “internal Wikipedia for intelligence agencies to share knowledge.”

How can you be sure your idea is a change you “should” lead?  It is hard to know.  This is why many years ago, renowned theologian Reinhold Neibuhr wrote this famous prayer:

God grant me the Serenity to accept the things that I cannot change
Courage to change things that I can
And Wisdom to know the difference

May you have Serenity, Courage, and Wisdom as you lead change for enhanced Mission Impact.


For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site at www.SheehanNonprofitConsulting.com   You will find free resources you can download, including a Breakthrough Strategy Workbook that you can download at no cost.  You can also check out my book, Mission Impact:  Breakthrough Strategies for Nonprofits, and buy it if you are interested.  And you can follow Sheehan Nonprofit Consulting on Facebook.

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Right Amount of Stress

What!?!  I want NO stress!

And there are a lot of good reasons that you don’t want stress.  Too much stress has been shown to cause a myriad of health problems including hypertension, heart issues, depression, and more.  And at work, too much stress can lead to bad decision making, low quality of work, burn out, strained relations with colleagues, lack of focus, and more.

Yerkes - Dodson Law
But you also don’t want NO stress.  That is, you don’t want “no stress” as long as you’re working.  More than one hundred years ago, Yerkes & Dodson identified the relationship between stress and performance.  With too little stress, we are not challenged to do our best.  With too much stress, the quality of our performance suffers.

The trick is to get yourself into a situation where you have just the right amount of stress – which is called “eustress.”

If you are feeling too much stress then address it as best you can – you are not being as productive as you think you are, even if you are very busy (BUSY does not equal HIGH PERFORMANCE).

Say no to additional assignments as best you can and/or negotiate different deadlines.  Manage expectations of yourself and others.  Don’t fall victim to the tyranny of everything being urgent.  Dial back the stress until you get to that sweet spot.

Too much stress leads to distress.  The right amount leads to high performance and enhanced Mission Impact.

*Also check out "The Mayo Clinic Guide for Stress-Free Living" by Dr. Amit Sood here.


For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site at www.SheehanNonprofitConsulting.com   You will find free resources you can download, including a Breakthrough Strategy Workbook that you can download at no cost.  You can also check out my book, Mission Impact:  Breakthrough Strategies for Nonprofits, and buy it if you are interested.  And you can follow Sheehan Nonprofit Consulting on Facebook.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Pete's Persistence

Most days I go to the campus gym first thing in the morning.  Pete is usually never far behind me.

Pete looks to be in his 80s.  He walks with a very pronounced limp.  It’s not easy for him to get around.  Yet, there he is most every day.  He lifts weights.  He does walking laps in the shallow end of the pool.  None of this is easy for him.

One very cold morning last week it was a dark day with freezing rain.  It was one of those days when anyone who had a choice might just decide to stay in bed, eat popcorn, and watch reruns of NCIS in a warm house.  But not Pete – he was at the gym.

Anytime I think about being a slug and not starting the day at the gym, I think of Pete.  In fact, recently, every time I hit some kind of a roadblock and think about quitting, I think of Pete.  Because Pete knows that persistence is one of the things that separates the good from the great.

Former President Calvin Coolidge said it well:

“Nothing in the world will take the place of Persistence.  Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.  Genius will not: unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.  The slogan “Press On” has solved and will always solve the problems of the human race.”  

“Press On” with your 2017 Goals for more of a Mission Impact!


For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site at www.SheehanNonprofitConsulting.com   You will find free resources you can download, including a Breakthrough Strategy Workbook that you can download at no cost.  You can also check out my book, Mission Impact:  Breakthrough Strategies for Nonprofits, and buy it if you are interested.  And you can follow Sheehan Nonprofit Consulting on Facebook.


Monday, January 2, 2017

Set Your 2017 Goals Now!

Happy 2017!

As is my annual tradition, I will start the new year out with a reminder of my advice from an article I wrote in The Washington Post a few years back: “Set Goals, Not Resolutions.”  And also see my full article on The Power of Goals at this link.

If it’s time for you to set those once-a-year resolutions that you know will fade by March, then this article is not for you.

But if you are ready to make a long-term commitment to achieving higher levels of performance and having more satisfaction in life, then consider getting serious about goal-setting:

*Set goals as outcomes – on what you really want, not the activities that may lead toward them.

*Make sure that all your goals are SMRT:  Specific, Measurable, Relevant, Time-Bound

*Use the right “A” in your SMART goal formula.  All goals need to be SMRT.  But to be SMART you need to pick the “A” that is right for your situation. Here are your options:

1.  Attainable Goals, which you have an 80+% chance of accomplishing, are good if failing will have many negative consequences.  Attainable goals are good to build some momentum with easy wins, or to learn more about new environments, or if you are concerned about getting discouraged.

2.  Aggressive Goals, which you have a 35% chance of accomplishing, will improve your performance.  Research shows that the more difficult the goal, the higher the level of performance.*  If you feel like you have a good system and you want to maximize performance of it, then this method will help you do it.

3.  Almost Impossible Stretch Goals, which you have a 1% chance of accomplishing, will require you to design innovative ways of going about accomplishing your goal.  “Working harder” on the same process won’t do it.  You have an opportunity for breakthrough performance with Almost Impossible Stretch Goals.

*Celebrate Noble Failure.  If you are inspired to pursue a goal and you go for it, but you don’t make it all the way, then appreciate the progress you have made and appreciate that you worked hard at something you really cared about.  This mind-set will bring you more long-term success than letting the fear of failure keep you from doing what truly inspires you.

I provide more extensive detail on goal setting in this article, The Power of Goals.  If you use these principles and apply them to your personal and work life then I promise you much higher levels of performance, fulfillment, and satisfaction.   But it only works if you take it on as a true, committed discipline – not a once a year fad.  Good luck with all of your goals!


*A Theory of Goal Setting & Task Performance, by Edwin Locke and Gary Latham



For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site at www.SheehanNonprofitConsulting.com   You will find free resources you can download, including a Breakthrough Strategy Workbook that you can download at no cost.  You can also check out my book, Mission Impact:  Breakthrough Strategies for Nonprofits, and buy it if you are interested.  And you can follow Sheehan Nonprofit Consulting on Facebook.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Process & Impact Milestones

Once you set a goal and you make a plan, then you should set two types of milestones – Process Milestones and Impact Milestones.  I notice that most people do not set milestones and when they do they only set Process Milestones.

Process Milestones are periodic check-in dates in which you look at your Action Plan to see if all of the action steps are being followed.  You can track these in various ways and even use a tool like Microsoft Project if you have a complicated Action Plan with lots of moving parts.

Impact Milestones are periodic check-ins in which you look at the results that your Action Plan is producing to see if you are on track with what you are expecting the plan to produce.  So, it is important to ask yourself – once you set a plan – “what kinds of results should we be seeing x, y, and z weeks/months out if the plan is working as we want it to?”

When you do a Process Milestone check-in and discover that someone has not completed their tasks properly then you need to investigate and put in a fix.  Maybe it was a simple oversight and can be corrected or maybe someone is overwhelmed and you need to reassign duties.  Regardless, you may need to alter your plan slightly to get back on track.  FYI – it is important to schedule these check-ins regularly so your plan does go way off track without realizing it.

However, if you are following your plan just as you had scheduled and you are missing your Impact Milestones – not producing the results you want – THEN you have a problem of a different kind.  When people do not set Impact Measures they are often surprised that everyone followed the plan but – in the end – the results they wanted were not produced.  You should know this much sooner!

What do you do when you miss an Impact Milestone?  You need to investigate carefully.  You made certain assumptions about your plan when you set these milestones.   Are, perhaps, some of your assumptions incorrect?  If so, then maybe you need to call a “timeout” and make a totally new plan.

So often, leaders live in denial after crafting a wonderful plan (mostly their ideas) and it is not working.  Without Impact Milestones, you will not know until it is too late.  If you want to make a Mission Impact then you need Process and Impact Milestones to stay on track.  



For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site.  You will find free resources you can download, including a Breakthrough Strategy Workbook that you can download at no cost.  You can also check out my book, Mission Impact:  Breakthrough Strategies for Nonprofits, and buy it if you are interested.  And you can follow Sheehan Nonprofit Consulting on Facebook.