Category Archives: Leadership Among us

Community Contributions Company – Join Me August 25th

I promise, this is not another rant against Canada’s Anti-spam law..but it will start off sounding like one.  I started this blog on Canada day and my plan was to send it out then to not only celebrate our freedoms as Canadians, but also to frown over the new electronic communication rules. And how this new legislation will create transparency. I admit…to a degree, it will make us ethical citizens…to a degree, and it will promote better opt out procedures…to a degree. The biggest problem with the new legislation is that it forces a set of rules upon us that were not voted on, were not agreed to by citizens and constituents, and ultimately will create more unnecessary bureaucracy for small businesses across Canada.  This is where I jump off this train before it crashes.


To continue to use the metaphor of the train, I will jump on another one. The Society act is another set of rules that govern not-for-profit organization. If an organization chooses to become a “charitable” association, then that is a railway with a variety of tracks that some will say lead to brick walls when it comes to developing a strong social service. The Society Act is for BC organizations and outlines rules, bylaws, and methods of governance. I have wrote about the barriers of this system before and will do so briefly now once more. The Society act in my opinion is a little bit like a process of smoke and mirrors. It is something that an organization needs to call themselves an not for profit organization, but it also gives each an opportunity to create a cryptic set of rules called bylaws. There are some basic bylaws scripted in the Act, but it is generally an organizations leadership that adds texture to it. I have personally been involved in crafting bylaws as well as supporting organizations to change them. In each circumstance following the adoption of these rules I find myself scratching my head wondering why did we do that to ourselves. You see, that while the bylaws (or any policy to that effect) seems like a good way to keep law and order, each one is also a binding “gag” order in it’s own peculiar way. You see, bylaws, policies, and rules complicate our work…it guides it…but it complicates it. Can there not be a better way? Can we not find a better system to create adaptive self-governance that exudes transparent, ethical, and charitable behaviour?


Jumping onto a third train in our train yard, there is this phenomena called “free market”. In this environment, the rules of success apply. Yes there are rules, but the rules adapt and shift under a greater pressure: The momentum of free enterprise. Dan Palotta (2010) speaks about the nefarious set of rules that charitable organizations have to weave through on a daily basis that businesses can easily avoid. He believes however that we have created these puritan rules and ultimately have cornered ourselves, creating our own restrictions and disabling our ability to be adaptive. I surely do not see us throwing out the Society Act but I surely do think it is time that we develop new governance models. Perhaps we need to use the new Community Contributions Company opportunity that allows not-for-profits in a way to own businesses. Perhaps this “social enterprise” is the new way to access the open market while maintaining a board of local governors? Perhaps its a way to have the best of both worlds? I think there is a better way. If you have time, I hope you will come to the next Community Inc. workshop preamble at Tim Hortons (Alderbridge Way in Richmond) on Monday August 25th in Richmond at 6pm. Together let’s find ways to uncover your organization’s talents and build a better practice.


Palotta, D. (2010). Uncharitable. University Press of New England, Hanover, MA.



From A to B to Social Innovation

Do you ever wonder about what the value of Positive Risk is if you never take it?

Are you satisfied just watching how the system ticks, tocks, and ticks again?

Do you feel that there must be a better solution to the traditional model?

Are you interested in reconnecting with the roots of community and creating meaningful opportunities for its citizens?

For those who have followed my blog for the past year you will have heard me talk about Peter Block and his role in transforming community, Adam Kahane and his work on the “Power of Love”. I have jumped from seminal visionaries like Kurt Lewin, Paole Freire, and Chris Argyris to noble gentlemen such as C.S. Lewis and Peter Drucker. All of these mini dialogues have brought little to no feedback from my community of followers. Why? Too much social media? Drib drab content or things you already knew…? I think it is because all of this talk had no action. Social media has a number of merits but I still think the digital environment is largely superficial. I do not believe that the “container” of the internet is the best vehicle for dialogue.

Because of this, I am changing my rhetoric to action. The blog will continue to exist but it will act as a magnet. A tool to entice my readers to engage with me in person. Some of you attended my workshop in June! Thank You!  I will be holding another session in November and I hope to see you there ( For those of you however that are looking for something different, I have now formed a group. The goal of this group is to create a social enterprise. No more talk…it’s time to walk the walk.

If you are interested in forming a type of social enterprise venture called a Community Contributions company (CCC) then this group is for you. Join me on Monday August 25th at 6pm in Richmond. Sign up here:


Don’t be left behind, be on the cutting edge of board development


With anti-spamming laws right around the corner it is time for all of us governors to huddle around the fire and figure out how we are going to develop sustainable practices without sending emails. Yes that’s right, according to new legislation coming into force on July 1st you will no longer be able to send an unsolicited message to anyone for any purpose! How will we survive? Well I for one have an answer. It is called Community Inc. And it relies on the power of stakeholder engagement. And yes, that means your neighbors! No longer will we be allowed to send a message to our friend down the street offering to buy them a cup of coffee!  According to Section one, sub-clause #2, a “commercial electronic message” cannot have “as its purpose… to encourage participation in a commercial activity… offer to …barter …a service …advertise, or …promote a person, including the public image of a person”. Now we are actually going to have to get out of our chair and walk down the hall and talk to our friend in person.


Our Board development workshops on June 12,19, and 21 2014 in Richmond BC will remind you what it means to be an effective governor, rekindle and form new relationships, engage with your constituents, and do all of it without relying on a smartphone that you cant use anymore..unless you use it to simply call a friend!

Register now at


The Power of Governance


Today, I write to share with you the culmination of many months of work. I am launching a Board Governance workshop. Having participated in and provided consultation to over a dozen boards of directors, I have identified a key pattern. In every instance, there are board members who wish to contribute to the social fabric of an organization but they do not have the correct tools to do so. The result is often passivity in the ranks with few people providing most of the leadership. This short professional development retreat and workshop will provide individual board members with a collective strategy to engage with each other and their constituents in a meaningful way. Any board that books a retreat and mentions my blog will receive a $200 discount.

Click the link below for the flyer:

Power of Governance










Drive – To what motivates us?

ImageI have just started reading Daniel Pink’s novel Drive. Although the book is focused on motivation, it was the introduction that caught my attention. In it, Pink stated that the value of intrinsic rewards far outweigh those of extrinsic motivators. As many of us are driven by capitalism and the cost of living, we have little choice but to recognize that external motivators are captivating. What we fail to realize however is that internal goals are much different. We want to be appreciated, acknowledged, and valued. Unfortunately both our perception and our attitude is driven by what we own, the titles we adone, and the wealth and power behind these values.  Notwithstanding, these are achievements in their own rigbt after many years of hard work and a result of a focus on personal skill development and business savvy.
I have been doing some research into poverty in communities recently and through dialogue with individuals and their experiences I have recognized a few things. First of all, individuals who live in poverty have every bit of an intrinsic desire to succeed and find achievement. Unfortunately due to many unforeseen and often uncontrollable events in their life, motivation holds little value. Motivation in their life comes from the desire to survive. They live their life with very little hope for external motivation but when it arrives, it comes in the form of natural supports, encouragement, and the value that developing resiliency can bring. 
As we reflect on what motivates us: the desire to be successful, the need to be acknowledged, or the safety of equity, I think that intrinsic and extrinsic rewards are not the motivator. I think the motivator is to navigate barriers in our life that prevent us from achieving a quality of life. Without the life skills of resiliency, passion, and dedication, rewards can be meaningless. What do you think?
Pink, D. H. (2009). Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us. New York, NY: Riverhood Books.

Qualitative Intersubjectivity

As a qualitative researcher I am constantly reflecting on how my experiences influence my subjectivity. Each time an event occurs our world view changes and therefore impacts the way we interact with others. As opposed to positivist approaches to inquiry, an interpretivist method of inquiry promotes a subjectivist value on the importance of what we are research. For example, this past week we have once again experienced the senseless act of terror, this time at a sporting event. IMG_8959Perhaps our past experiences living in war torn countries, growing up in poverty, or memories of racial segregation flare up every time their is an act of terrorism. Or perhaps if none of these have affected you, your experience is still impacted by what you hear in the media. I remember visiting the UK years ago and asked why there were no garbage cans in public places. I was told about the history of terrorism in the UK during the IRA political wars with Britain. Because this was my experience, when I heard about the Boston Marathon being terrorized by a bomb that was in a garbage can it stirred up these experiences for me once again.

Now I wonder, while I move forward in my research working with people, how I will be affected by these events. Will they make me more aware? distrustful? compassionate? Although an unintended consequence – my experience has changed and my thoughts filter new information and I will approach an interview tomorrow differently than the way I did yesterday. Perhaps I will ask a question about how my interviewee has been affected by senseless violence? Perhaps this exploration will uncover an intersubjectivity between two people that will change our worldview? As we move forward in building relationships with others we ask ourselves about our position in the world and hopefully ask ourselves what we can help improve rather than what we can help destroy. How does your experience affect your inquiry?

Organizational Culture

I have disclosed a number of times both my interest and curiosity about the value of an organization’s culture. As I read various articles for a current literature review on shared leadership I came across an easy to follow model that may be of interest to my readers.Patsy 058

Linnenlueke and Griffiths (2010) have adapted a four quadrant framework of organizational culture. In the top left quadrant place “human relations” and in the bottom left “Process Oriented”. Both of these represent internal organizational mechanisms. In the top right quadrant place the word “Open System” and in the lower right “Goal Oriented”. The right side represents external forces. According to Linnenluecke and Griffiths, “each quadrant emphasizes different aspects of the organization: people, adaptation, stability, and task accomplishment” (p. 360). Each of these are described below in the hopes that you can reflect on your organization or Board of Directors and ask which quadrant you usually operate from and whether it is where you want to be.

When an organization is in the “Process Oriented” frame there is a rigidity that promotes stability. Linnenluecke and Griffiths described it as a hierarchical system that works well under stable conditions to produce preset ends (p. 360). The means to reach this level of internal control in the culture puts “greater emphasis on economic performance” of its personnel (p. 360). The impact however is that this type of culture creates a tension that may prevent innovation from occurring (p. 361).

The second -internal- frame of “Human Relations” places a greater “emphasis on social interaction, interpersonal relations, employee development and the creation of a humane work environment” (p. 361). This frame is where I believe most organizations think they want to be, but in my experience quickly draw back down into a process culture. Few organizations have a true coaching and mentoring culture. In the social services sector, one of the reasons could be due to the challenge of balancing productivity alongside ethical approaches to labour relations driven by issues of social justice in our workplaces. Linnenluecke and Griffiths posited that innovation is often in conflict between business and social issues that are confined by internal processes (p. 361). How organizations can be fair and focus on investing in their staff holistically will be the gauge of their success in this frame.

The third organizational culture is driven by “Rational Goals”. This type of organization was found in Linnenluecke and Griffiths’ (2010) research to reinvest their cost savings from developing efficient systems back into human services (p. 361). I would stretch to call this the philanthropic frame as it reinvests dividends back into the services for the community. This model takes strength from “rational planning and organizing” to achieve its goals through “the efficient use of resources, planning and goal setting” (Linnenluecke & Griffiths, 2010, p. 361). This external, inflexible frame however is still driven by corporate vision and direction.

The “Open System” culture, like the goal frame is externally driven but more specifically  by the “external environment in affecting the behavior, structure and life changes of organizations” (Linnenluecke and Griffiths, p. 361). What I find interesting about this frame is that it allows for true influence through collaborative engagement toward a social purpose. It bring in the social justice, human relations with stakeholder driven goals that are flexible. Hopefully it is also meaningful through staff and consumer engagement processes, truly shaping an inclusive culture. The authors promoted this culture as one that “emphasizes moral authority, social integration….plac[ing] greater emphasis on innovation for achieving ecological and social sustainability” (p. 362).

Finally, if none of the above cultures fit your organization then it is possible that you operate within a blend of the four types. Personally I can reflect on my experiences in three of the frames. In my experience working with nonprofit organizations and consulting with many others I have operated in all but the open systems culture. I guess I can aspire to be part of one one day…but that is another story…

If you want some personal coaching or a board development seminar on this topic, please feel free to call me at 604-307-0454 or by email at


 Linnenluecke, M. K., & Griffiths, A. (2010). Corporate sustainability and organizational culture. Journal of World Business, 45, 357-366. doi:10.1016/j.jwb.2009.08.006