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How are you fueling new ideas in your organization?

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Last Monday night was a special occasion for me. October 1 is my friend Dorothy’s birthday, and every year on our birthdays, we take the other out for dinner.

This year, Dorothy turned 93. While she walks a little slower than she used to, she’s as sharp, receptive, and feisty as ever.

At our dinner, she had two new experiences—a delicious meal at one of the best vegan restaurants in the U.S. and a glass of orange rosé, a wine trend that’s been fermenting (sorry, couldn’t help it!) the last couple years.

Being open to new ideas, to learning, experimenting, and evolving is a competency each of us needs to have in our careers as the external landscape and new information comes at us faster than ever. By the way, it’s also a core characteristic of entrepreneurial nonprofit leadership. 

I also believe constantly learning is one of the ways my friend Dorothy has remained so vital throughout her life.

The Value of New Ideas

When leaders and their teams are open to new ideas, expanding how they imagine their value, they innovate and see possibilities they hadn’t before.

Here’s a glimpse at a before and after. Last week I spent time with two clients, both of which are looking for ways to monetize value to a new market. 

I’ve been working with Client A for a couple months, and we’ve done the heavy lifting on strategizing around their business model and the particulars for this expanded service. When I suggested their proposed fee structure by a factor of 10, the director giggled and quickly agreed. Because she had rapidly integrated all that she’d been learning, she immediately recognized two reasons this approach made sense:

  1. what she has to offer is worth that and 
  2. a more aggressive fee structure was aligned with her objectives—and not just because it would generate more revenue.

Client B is in a different phase of our work together. We just got started. One staff member was talking about fees as a way of recovering costs. And when he told me he wanted to learn more, I smiled inside. That’s my entrée. His openness is how I know that with my strategies and ideas as his catalyst, he’ll be talking about value much differently when we get things rolling. Very soon, he’ll approach his work more like Client A is.


Here's a Challenge for You.

What about your organization? Are you fanning the flames of learning and experimentation? Are you fostering an abundance mentality and openness to new ideas?

Successful and entrepreneurial leaders and organizations regularly engage outside expertise to challenge thinking and uncover new potential. My business advisor (yes, I walk my own talk) taught me long ago that without this expertise, we are just breathing our own exhaust.

Here’s an experiment for you. With your team, select an area of your organization— a system, an approach, a source of revenue—even an innocuous one, and imagine how you could do it better. Use one or more of these stimulus to inspire.

  • Have your team read a new book or enroll in a webinar on this area.
  • Invite a guest speaker into your organization to shake up your thinking.
  • Brainstorm 25 ideas that could dramatically improve it.
  • Commit to adopting a new approach for this issue.
  • Reward the behavior of trying something new and taking calculated risk.

Let me know what you decide to do differently and what you notice about your staff’s energy before and after. Cheers!


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