December 3, 2016
By: Traci Picard
SEG’s Lunch and Learn series presented an interactive workshop with Daniel Doucette, organizational dynamics advisor and founder of BraveShift. He brought a down-to-earth perspective and an engaging approach to the subject of creating a framework for leadership and governance, based on his experiences in the world of non-profit and NGOs. The theme that emerged was the importance of building a strong foundation. In the end, we had the opportunity to evaluate our current governance and leadership status, either personally or organizationally.
- In this class Daniel Doucette challenged us to ask “What does leadership mean to you?” Asking this question of ourselves can help us to assess our own and our organization’s leadership. We learned about the importance of taking a look at how things are really going, checking in with each other and having intentional conversations. If we are not clear on what leadership means to us, it may be more difficult to make these assessments.
- Show, don’t tell, your organization’s values. There is nothing wrong with making a values statement. It can be a great idea! But Doucette cautions us against letting this statement gather dust. “Figure out ways to actually use the values in concrete and specific ways.” Values work better when they have a direct connection to our daily work. No need to shelve the aspirational values of course, as long as we are transparent about their purpose. “Don’t make yourself accountable to a value that you don’t actually intend to live.”
- Manage expectations. Doucette points to differing expectations as a common trigger for conflict. “Wrong expectations lead to resentment”, he says. Whether we are looking at communications, responsibilities or structural issues, setting realistic expectations within the organization may be preventive care for the future.
- Think about risk. Without optimism, few entrepreneurs would get anywhere at all. We need it! But we also need to examine risk for the purpose of making plans. “Try to scare yourself. What could possibly go wrong?” He suggest we think these things through, write them down, identify probabilities and mitigations. And there is a reason for this–outside parties such as funders will actually ask about it. It helps to be ready.
- Diversity in ideation matters. The echo chamber effect is very real. When we live in an information bubble, surrounded by people who think just like us and avoiding challenging conversations, the lack of constructive conflict can lull us and an echo chamber emerges. We might unconsciously set up these echo chambers, because they feel comfortable. “You have to step back and do some creative thinking about what you are doing. Who can I get in the room with me to help ideate?” It’s about going beyond a statement on inclusive idea generation. “It’s not useful”, says Doucette, “if you have a great process on ideation but you don’t do it.”
More information on Daniel Doucette and his work can be found at BraveShift.
Venture Development Assistant
Traci Picard is a VISTA serving as Venture Development assistant here at SEG. She comes from the world of alternative health, running a small herbal business and teaching classes like Critical Thinking for Herbalists and Asking Better Questions. Traci is also a writer pursuing a Journalism degree, a mother of 3 and a passionate fan of books and the Public Library. Born in Providence, she has lived all over but continues to return home.