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Leadership transitions: They always take longer than you think!

Posted by on Aug 1, 2018 in Osborne Insights Blogs | 0 comments

As the new Ontario government begins to implement their election platform, many in the not-for-profit sector are taking a wait-and-see approach to plans and programs. Certainly, much of this is expected and indeed appropriate during a government transition – new spending and initiatives are on hold once the election writ is dropped and until the new government confirms their priorities for each ministry. This can happen quickly in some sectors and in others be a painfully long wait. Boards of Directors of charities and not-for-profits may not be aware that another set of transitions is being considered by your senior staff leaders. The time is ripe for many senior leaders to evaluate their tenure at the head of their organization. Ages & Stages Has your Executive Director already been through more than one significant government change? Your ED may be well aware that funding opportunities, accountabilities, and program parameters can change drastically during this period. And, she may be thinking that now is an excellent time to change positions. Or, is he at the age where retirement beckons? There are many baby boomers ready to retire and this transition may be the impetus needed for some to choose retirement over the uncertainty of the next few months. The Role of the Board Now is the time for Boards of Directors to engage their senior leaders in a strategic conversation about the prospects of your organization – not-for-profit or charity – over the short term. The key question is, does your organization have contingency plans if program support is postponed or canceled? The Board needs to work with senior leaders to ensure these plans are prepared and appropriately resourced. This is also the ideal time to broach the subject of future plans for paid and voluntary leadership. Is your executive director ready and energized to lead the organization through the government transition?  Regardless of the outcome of that conversation, Boards should be checking whether they have a succession plan for their executive director or if their succession plan has been updated recently. If the answer to any of these questions is no, the Board will need to take actions such as striking a working group or assigning responsibility to your HR Committee for creating or reviewing a succession plan as a priority agenda item. Interim Leadership If your executive director is ready to make a change, consider hiring an interim executive director as part of your succession plan. Typically, Boards of Directors underestimate the length of time it takes to hire a new executive director. Six months is a common time frame and if the initial search does not produce a good candidate, the search period may extend much longer....

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Five Things You Can Do To Protect Against Sexual Misconduct at your Charity

Posted by on Feb 22, 2018 in Osborne Insights Blogs | 0 comments

I was asked by the Toronto Arts Foundation to deliver a short presentation on human resources for directors of small not-for-profit and charitable organizations. In January, I opened my news feed to see that the artistic director of a prominent Canadian theatre company was being sued by four actors for sexual harassment and that the theatre company was named in the suits. Suddenly, my presentation on an important but often ignored subject was urgent as well as important. Directors of not-for-profit organizations and charities need to take immediate action to ensure that their organizations are taking basic but critical steps to prevent misconduct and to provide a safe, professional and welcoming environment for staff and volunteers. Human resources are part of the risk management responsibilities of the board and are no less important than ensuring your financial risks are minimized. Wondering where to start? Here are five things all boards should consider. Be informed Directors of not-for-profit organizations are correctly schooled to be mindful of the division of responsibilities between their governance role and the role of staff to manage. This is particularly true in the area of human resources where there is often an intentional barrier intended to maintain confidentiality. However, a Director’s duty of care requires the Board to be informed about all aspects of the organization. By all means, retain the delegation of HR to staff but Directors must remain engaged. Start by increasing the board’s knowledge about human resources. Ensure board behaviour models desired organizational culture To ensure the desired culture is supported, take a mission, vision, and values approach by rooting your human resources philosophy in your company’s mission, vision, and values. This helps to ensure the HR practices fit with your organizational culture and are understood by staff, volunteers and board alike. Mission phrases such as “engenders a supportive community,” “provide the conditions for new work to thrive,” and “allows the company to build a new, cohesive and inclusive world” are foundations on which you can build your human resources philosophy. Organizational values should be reflected in human resources policies. Are you a learning organization? Are you concerned with social justice issues, diversity, or access? Look to your values when choosing among options for policies and procedures. Include human resources in risk management Many charities and not-for-profit organizations have adopted risk management practices by identifying, mitigating and monitoring risks to protect against foreseeable risks. It has become second nature to take this approach with our financial risks. Directors can protect their organizations from risks related to human resources by including HR when identifying potential risks. Common situations are working with a large number of volunteers or being overly reliant on a single staff person for...

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Interim Leadership – More Gain, Less Pain

Posted by on Sep 28, 2016 in Osborne Insights Blogs | 0 comments

A recent assignment as interim executive director for a mid-sized non-profit confirmed my experience that engaging an interim executive director or CEO during times of transition results in a more successful permanent hire and a more productive organization. Finding the right permanent non-profit leader has never been more difficult. The expansion of responsibilities and the growing complexity of leadership positions continues while the retirement of the current leadership cohort means the number of qualified candidates is shrinking. Boards of Directors can underestimate the time and expense involved in locating and bringing new leaders into their organizations. It is tempting for conscientious Board members to wish to provide stability by stepping into the vacancy or appointing a senior staff member to oversee the ED’s responsibilities. However, these two options may cause further disruption as the day-to-day demands of the ED’s job overtake other duties or cause conflict between the distinct roles of staff members and voluntary leaders. The benefit of experienced stable leadership also outweighs the cost of interim fees. Interim leaders ensure the organization’s work continues unabated allowing Directors to focus on recruitment. This limits the expenses associated with lengthy hiring processes or hasty, unsuccessful recruitment efforts. Osborne Group interim leaders provide experienced day-to-day leadership and allow the Board ample time to search for the best permanent executive director or CEO. We hit the ground running and step out at the right time while ensuring a smooth transition for the new permanent hire. Our clients think we do a pretty good job of it.  In our most recent client survey they rated us 100% on six factors including the quality of our advice, effective implementation and how we meet their needs. So if your organization needs to take some time to find the right permanent ED or CEO, call us at 416.822.7740 or send me a note at lwhite@www.osborne-group.com. Check out our great team of Principals on www.osborne-group.com. Lucy White NFP Governance and Management /p> <div style=”display:inline;”> <img height=”1″ width=”1″ style=”border-style:none;” alt=”” src=”//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/940422155/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0″/> </div>...

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Transform the Future with Scenario Planning

Posted by on Jun 5, 2015 in Osborne Insights Blogs | 0 comments

Transform the Future with Scenario Planning Executives and Directors of non-profit organizations are being squeezed by increasingly complex challenges in the work environment and flat or decreasing resources with which to address those challenges. And there is tremendous pressure, especially on charities, to keep pushing expenditures ever lower. But continuing to do the same activities with fewer resources and then expecting acceptable outcomes is unsustainable even in the short term. In our current environment of accelerating change, smart non-profit leaders are looking for new tools and processes to transform their organizations and move forward with their missions. Scenario planning is an excellent and, in the non-profit sector, underutilized process that can be used to bring profoundly positive organizational change -especially in uncertain environments. Scenarios are, “stories that can help us recognise and adapt to changing aspects of our present environment. They form a method for articulating the different pathways that might exist for you tomorrow, and finding your appropriate movements down each of those possible paths. “[i] Taking scenario planning a step beyond merely understanding and “adapting” to possible futures, “transformative” scenario planning works to influence a situation or organization to bring about a desired future. Transformative scenario planning follows five steps – convening a working group from across the whole organization; observing what is happening in the organization and environment; constructing stories about what could happen in the future; discovering what can and must be done to achieve the desirable future; and acting to transform the situation or organization. [ii] Convening a working group from across the organization ensures a cross-fertilization of knowledge and perspectives is brought to the scenarios. It also allows the individuals to deepen their understanding of each other’s points-of-view, develops the trust and empathy necessary for collaboration and paves the way for shared intention to make change happen. Close observation of the situation, environment, or system is a key step in the process and necessary for the construction of relevant and meaningful scenarios. Typically, participants create multiple stories as they explore the extremes of least and most desirable, and least and most probable, scenarios. A few of the most likely and desirable scenarios are selected for further study until participants agree on what must be done to bring about the desired future. The non-profit and charitable sector is charged with transforming the lives of individuals, communities, and nations. In order to do this, non-profit leaders must also be willing to change their organizations. Transformative scenario planning works by creating positive change in organizations from the inside out to transform the future. And, isn’t that what non-profit missions are about? [i] Peter Schwartz’s “The Art of the Long View” [ii] Adam Kahane “Transformative Scenario Planning”...

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