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Design Teams: Tapping into Client Wisdom and Planning for the Change

Design Teams

What are they?

Design teams is a phrase that we use a lot at S&G, but how many people really understand what we mean by using that terminology? The term “design team’ means different things to different organizations. For example: in advertising, firms might have a design team that has more of a creative purpose. Usually set with several well-known designers and artists as well as a creative director and copyright editors to make sure they are creating a great advertising campaign to reach their customers and create successful advertising campaigns. (“What is a Creative Team in Advertising” by Rick Suttle).

architecture design team

Another type of design team could be an architectural design team, which typically consists of an architect, urban designers, environmental architect just to name a few. Their position or task might be to ”design a sustainable building, with as little impact on environment as possible all while blending into local architecture, while tying the interior and exterior designs together.” That organization or group will have to assemble a design team that has the technical know how to achieve that goal. In short, they are a group of experts in their field brought together for the success of that project.

(graphic from Srujan Foundation)

How does S&G work with the Design Team

At S&G however, we are a little different, we don’t have a room full of experts. We look at the organization or company with the leadership and create a team that represents all positions or departments in order to ensure that as many voices get in the room early to help plan the change effort. We value all ideas and use the design team to help facilitate the design of the overall action planning and the accelerator event activities. Doing this helps the organization have people involved in the process and continuing the conversation of taking action. Engaged design team members, who are excited about the process and believe in the direction of the organization naturally helps to create buy in for the planning process and greater commitment to the success of that plan.

Using the S&G Endeavors “Engaged Change” Process Roadmap, we use design teams to help:

  • Collecting System-wide data to wholistically inform the team
  • Build common ground for the initiative
  • Plan the accelerator change activities

design team picHaving an well connected design team that represents the organization as a whole is key to going into the planning process on the right foot. Looking a little further into the “Engaged Change” process, here are some of the activities that design teams can accomplish during the planning work:

  • Engage in conversations that build a common framework for aspirations and opportunities for the org./company.
  • Create a common picture of what is working and what needs to change.
  • Collect stakeholder perspectives and analyze relevant data
  • Design the larger engagement experience (planning, logistics, and activities)

Companies are filled with projects, plans, and initiatives. Many use teams and/or groups to divide up the workload, align tasks, and manage the work. Our design team process engages people early and often into the planning process ensuring increased support for future planning and implementing actions. The wisdom of the organization is turned into organizational learning and development when the right people are tapped to lead the change process. The better the organization can assemble this team, the likely they increase the success of their change/action planning process.

To hear some stories from leaders who have used design teams, Check out our upcoming broadcast:

S&G Connections
Design Teams: Tapping into Client Wisdom and Planning for the Change

w/Elliot Caldwell – Georgia Bikes, Dan Favre – Bike Easy, Jacob Vansickle – Bike Cleveland
Wednesday June 27th
2:00pm EST

LIVE TBD – on Either the S&G Endeavors Facebook Page S&G You Tube Page, or John’s DLive Account. You decide! Let us know.

Here is our promo video we did for our upcoming session. The social media platform with the most engagement get to host the broadcast!

S&G Meeting design Creates Dialog that Helps Chapters Implement New Initiative

Collaboration That Drove change and Increased Ownership

S&G believes that giving back to the community through in-kind donation of our services is
important to changing the landscape, increasing dialog, and creating opportunities for all people,
no matter their situation. It is always a win win situation when we help such organizations create
the dialog and action they need to transform their work. This blog highlights a couple of these
interactions and shows how S&G could be working more directly with your organization to create
similar, actionable, dialog.

The National Federation of the blind (NFB) has always carried an importance for us as a company, as this organization at local, state, and national levels, is helping blind people live the lives they want, specifically, addressing opportunities to overcome some of the challenges faced as a blind person.

Recently, Jeremy had the opportunity to help facilitate a session for the NFB of Virginia Project
Rise program, giving students the ability to tap into their own wisdom, collaborate with each
other, and learn from leaders in the community in a way that inspired them and put them on a
course for success. Read more about what we did and how they were successful in the April
Issue of their newsletter.

Jeremy also recently worked with Brian Miller, the President of the NFBV Greater Alexandria
Chapter, to help him design and facilitate a dialog for chapter members around the new Code of
Conduct. The Code of Conduct, recently approved and rolled out by the National Federation of
the Blind, (NFB), aims to help carry out the Federation’s vital mission by implementing this Code of Conduct which sets forth policies and standards that all members, especially Federation leaders, are expected to adopt and follow.

S&G worked with Mr. Miller to help him think about his design of the conversation, specifically
helping him identify how he would present the new policy to the group, and how he might design
a collaborative dialog that gave people the opportunity to process the new code and think about how they would choose to realize or implement the code within their chapter.

After presenting the Code of Conduct to the group and walking through the document, Mr. Miller
then broke people into small groups to discuss the following questions:
1. What does this code of conduct mean to each of us in this small group?
2. What are two things we can do as a chapter to ensure we are living this code of conduct?

Following the small group dialog, Mr. Miller then encouraged each small group to share out the
highlights of their discussion, giving all participants the ability to tap into the wisdom and
feedback in the room.

The Chapter is still deciding specific actions they plan to take and plan to have the board address
as part of their strategic planning this summer. However, just a couple of the ideas shared around
how to best implement the new code in the chapter included:
A. Ensuring that the code of conduct is prominently posted as part of chapter and affiliate
documents, that it isn’t being tucked in a corner where no one would see it. It should be
honored like a checklist that reminds doctors and nurses to rigorously wash their hands;
and,
B. Establishing clear lines of informal and formal reporting of violations of the code and
processes for redress. Chapter members and guests should know to whom to take their
concerns or report problems, and know that action will be taken in a context of respect,
support, and fairness.

“I was keen to try this collaborative approach as a way to introduce and achieved buy-in by our
chapter to this new, important Code of Conduct. With S&G’s guidance, I not only developed and facilitated a collaborative agenda, but it was an approach that left our members feeling energized and more connected to the new initiative. Now, we have some clear direction from our members on things they want to do to ensure that the new Code of Conduct isn’t just a document that sits on a shelf but instead, is something that our chapter is living in our work.”

The approach to a meeting is so critical to the success of what any organization is trying to
accomplish. It is what results in someone feeling like a meeting was worth their time to attend. By
working with Mr. Miller to include a collaborative dialog, his chapter members increased their
ownership and buy-in to the new initiative, positioning them for the most success and the best
thinking on how they can ensure that the new Code of Conduct is lived in their everyday work.

Why not tap into the expertise of S&G to design your next meeting to be one that transforms your
work? Contact us for a consult.

2018-2019 Topics for S&G Connections

S&G is excited to announce the upcoming topics for our SGE Connections live broadcasts.  If you’re curious about the what “Design Teams” are or what “Open Space” is, I encourage you to checkout our monthly broadcasting on these very topics.  We always welcome an audience during our live events, and would answering any probing questions about the topic of discussion in real time.  To get notification of when we plan to go live you can Subscribe to Our You Tube Channel,  We will share the broadcast link on our networks social media pages and will update this link frequently with show dates and information.

  • June – S & G Design Teams: Tapping into Client Wisdom and Planning for the Change July –  Using Engaged Change to Create Customized, Community-driven Change and Action
    • Just Announced – This will be on Wednesday June 27th at 2pm EST.
  • August – SGE Services – Outlining our services that help organization leaders to collaborate, facilitate discussions, and move people toward taking
    S&G Connections

    Check Out one of our previous episodes.

    action together

  • September – Organization Wide Accelerator Summits – Still the Best Road for Impactful Buy-in.
  • October – Method Spotlight: Open Space in Action
  • November/December – A Vision of What is Possible: Planning Your Best Future
  • Jan 2019 Action Plans/Strategic Plans:  What types of plans do our clients create with our process?
  • Feb 2019 – From Summit to Transition:  Creating the Implementation Plans Early
  • March 2019 – Creating The Implementation Team and Helping Make the Changes Stick
  • April 2019 – Method Spotlight: Whole Scale Change ™ is the Best Action Maker
  • May 2019 – Blending Methods for Better Conversations: Customizing the Design Team and Summit Meetings

For those not able to join us live, you can always go back and watch a recorded version of the event. Visit SGEConnections.tv and click the subscribe button to stay connected with S&G and our  webcast’s. You can also  Follow Us on LinkedIn, and/or Stay Up To Date on Facebook.

Nebraska Walkable Communities Initiative Steering Committee Got It Right From the First Step

Guest Blogger Manuella Hancock (www.mwhcopy.com)

In 2014, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services set out to make increasing physical activity a statewide initiative, with a focus on helping communities prioritize walking, biking, and overall health. With the help of a CDC grant, the Nebraska Walkable Communities Initiative (WalkNE) built on existing in-state expertise to create or enhance existing walking and biking projects in local communities across the state. WalkNE, led by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, partnered with S & G Endeavors (S&G) to launch a steering committee. Four years later, WalkNE has doubled its partnerships with local communities and helped DHHS fulfill its goal to make walkability a state-wide health priority.

Getting the right people to start the journey

The Steering Committee moved towards success from its very first steps. S&G, together with Brian Coyle, the DHHS Physical Activity Coordinator, designed a committee to engage key stakeholders from the bottom-up. Coyle and Jeremy Grandstaff of S&G brainstormed a list of potential Steering Committee members and invited them to participate in a launch meeting. Invited guests included representatives from some initial key partner organizations as well as six local health departments, across the state, who were each simultaneously identifying a local community to target with the initiative.

While walkability, and increased safe access to walking, was the essential theme, the targeted communities themselves were incredibly diverse. They ranged from urban centers to rural, varying in size, demographics and multiple other factors that would make a cookie cutter approach impossible. As an additional challenge, some of the targeted communities had implemented programs to increase walking, biking, and even transit, so the steering committee would need to successfully engage with communities in vastly different phases of their work.

“We knew we would not be effective if we didn’t have the voices of the target communities at the table and, moreover, meaningfully engaged in creating our overall initiative strategy,” said Coyle. “Otherwise, the Steering Committee interactions with local communities would no doubt have met resistance to the cultural change we were trying to create in our state, which would reduce its effectiveness.” Making sure the constituent voices, as well as the wisdom that each brings to such an initiative were heard, became a hallmark of the Steering Committee’s efforts.

The initial guiding team wanted to tap into expertise that existed outside of the DHHS sphere. According to Coyle, “increasing walking is about more than health. We wanted those voices to meaningfully contribute to the success of the Initiative.” In addition to the local health departments and communities,  the launch meeting invited representatives from the Nebraska Safe Kids Initiative, local hospitals, Nebraska Bicycling Alliance (“NeBA”), Omaha and Lincoln City Planning Departments, and an expert in real estate development who could speak to the impact of increased walkability on the real estate values in a community.

In deciding who else to invite to the meeting, Coyle and Grandstaff had several priorities. “We wanted to make sure that we had Nebraska-based expertise,” recalls Coyle. In-state resources would be more appealing to local communities – reducing the “us versus them” problem. Also, in-state resources were likely to have established relationships in local communities that would add value to the expertise and technical assistance they brought to the table.

“Trust the people; trust the process.”

Among the very first questions put to the participants: “What do we need to accomplish with this initiative to make it worth your time to contribute and lead?” Grandstaff recalls, “We knew from experience that participants who own the process and the project will bring about success. So, we went into the first meeting with a very high level mandate, and turned it over to the participants. We told them, ‘This is our best thinking, but help us take it to the next level and make it yours.’”

“We challenged the invited participants, and the results were so much more than we could have hoped for,” says Coyle. “Engaging in a collaborative driven process has allowed the Steering Committee members to own it and bring some truly innovative ideas to the process.” For example, the initial members challenged themselves to add to the diversity of the committee and suggest additional members. As a result, input has been obtained from other unexpected and useful stakeholders like the AARP Nebraska, the Nebraska Department of Tourism, the Nebraska Department of Transportation,  Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, who all now serve as members on the committee.

walkNESCmtg1

In addition to bringing in new members, the launch meeting of the Steering Committee took advantage of the 

collaborative planning dialog to create measurable and specific action plans for WalkNE and the committee itself, a key to the success of the S&G process. “One of the hardest things to do with multiple stakeholders is get the dialog to turn into planning for action unless it is a specific commitment in the process,” says Grandstaff. “From the outset, we wanted to empower the Steering Committee to collaborate and create both its own vision, and accompanying action plans, at its first and subsequent meetings.”

WalkNE is moving forward successfully

The Steering Committee has been an overall success. “We really benefited from having the Steering Committee support as we launched our local initiative,” said Amy Roberts, the previous Health Educator for the Central District Health Department. The community of Grand Island, Nebraska had no walkability initiatives in place at the time that WalkNE began. With the support of the Steering Committee, Grand Island planned and hosted a local summit to engage the community in the initiative.

WalkNE was instrumental in Grand Island bringing in policies and new master plans that prioritize biking and walking in decision-making. Grand Island will also pass a Complete Streets policy in the near future that supports this new prioritization of walking and biking. The Complete Streets approach to urban planning integrates cars, pedestrians and bicyclists to make the streets safer and usable by all. It is a nation-wide movement. Having Nebraska voices advocate for Complete Streets, or increased safety and access for walking and biking in general, proved better than having a national organization come in to try to achieve the same results.

Grand Island has replicated the Steering Committee collaborative-driven process by inviting other stakeholders to participate. The Grand Island advocates, supported by leadership from the local Health Department and other partners, actively engages with the new Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), city planning, public works and parks and recreation departments. These are new partnerships that Houser expects will be useful in other projects going forward as well.

The Steering Committee has been an important place for the local community representatives, from Grand Island and the other 12 communities, to meet and share stories about the successes and challenges in their respective communities. “Hearing about best practices in other communities and talking about ways to replicate that in our community has been invaluable,” says Roberts. The Steering Committee meets 3 to 4 times a year, and local community progress and impediments has been an integral part of every agenda.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services has made walkable communities a part of both its strategic and business plans. With walkability as an agency priority, the WalkNE Steering Committee has been a substantive report-back on implementation. The structure of the Steering Committee has been able to increase walkability in Nebraska in a way that boasts a successful intra-governmental cooperative effort, accomplishing both the health priority and the goal of efficient government.

walknejulie

 

Since the  launch of the community-driven engagement process in 2015, participation has gone from 6 to 13 communities by expanding within the participating health departments and adding a new local health department to the membership. “Without the Steering Committee support, we could never have expanded our efforts using just local resources,” says Jennifer Hanson of Public Health Solutions  who has worked with Hebron, Fairbury, and Beatrice over the past 3 years under the WalkNE agenda.

Partnering walkability with cycling has proven particularly fruitful. “Having NeBA involved on the Steering Committee from the outset really opened up some great conversations in our communities,” says Coyle. In 2017, NeBA and WalkNE collaborated on a bike-walk summit attended by a large, enthusiastic group of interested Nebraskans.

As the Steering Committee reaches its final year of its grant funding, the journey is far from over. “We have so much progress to build on,” says Grandstaff. The Steering Committee is seeking additional funding and looking for ways to continue the transfer of its expertise and perspectives to local initiatives. By careful planning with concrete stakeholder input, the Steering Committee has been able to successfully improve walkability in Nebraska.

Punks of the New Age: Embracing Values

Every client is a bit different, with their own set of values and culture. Oh, how that brings S & G Endeavors joy. Our consultant, Rob Sadowsky, has been working with small to mid-size nonprofits to examine their organizational values and culture and craft written values statements that embrace both who they are and who they aspire to be. We do this so that current and future staff, board members and volunteers can learn what the values are quickly and intentionally, rather than attempt to figure it out on their own. Creating and adhering to a collaboratively set of values can help hold each other accountable, inspire the team to build core competencies, and help provide a filter for decision making.

Rob has been working with members of the Working Class Acupuncture Clinic in Portland, Oregon for the past seven months on a variety of strategic planning and leadership development activities. The work started around the goal of succession planning for the two founders, Lisa and Skip. They were a bit worried that their tenacious group of acupuncturists, referred to as “punks”, would not be able to continue without them if they were to retire someday. As part of strategic planning, Rob likes to start out with setting values or guiding principles. All organizations, public or private, for profit or nonprofit, should have a mission statement and a vision. The mission tells us the organization’s purpose. The vision tells us what it looks like when we are successful. And it is the core values that establishes the behavior rules. The ends do not justify the means, the means are very important. And these guiding values or principles clarify to everyone, internal and external, how you work, how you collaborate and partner, and why you do what you do in that special way.

The Clinic operates in a very special way. It is a community-based acupuncture clinic, more like a community health clinic than the sterile spa-like acupuncture office most of us conjure up when we think of acupuncturists. They are the “punks” of the acupuncture movement, seeing themselves as breaking old molds and using a core set of tools to treat patients where they are, for their needs, without pushing supplements or teas. People pay on a sliding scale and essentially, they won’t turn someone away for lack of resources. But this takes a certain “punk” to work there. Lisa and Skip and the rest of their Oversight Circle were struggling with some of their “punks” not getting it, not feeling the vibe. Rob asked them: “Have you ever written down what this vibe is? What it means to be successful?”. The answer was no, so we set about doing that.

The core values they selected is below as a downloadable pdf. The clinic now

uses these values to orient new employees and volunteers and have integrated them into their performance reviews.

We’d love to help your organization develop your core set of values. We have a three-hour hands-on workshop we offer that will leave you with your core values and a road map to integrate them into your work. We are also available to work with your team on developing them further and integrating them into performance appraisals. Contact rob@sgendeavors.com for more information.

 

Clinic Core Values:  WCA Core Values — draft 9 13 17b – Google Docs

With Structure Comes Freedom

I have recently been working with a couple of different groups that believe strongly in horizontal leadership – they believe that no one should have power over another in a group setting. Traditional leadership is very top down, can be patronizing and rarely encourages the active participation of all the team members. I also had the opportunity to interview Sue Schneider, a former HR Director for Nike Global Apparel as part of my work to get an Executive Master’s in Public Administration. The interview was about Human Resources Management, in general. But in that interview, she recommended that I look into Liberating Structures. Liberating Structures is both a book and a website promoted by Keith McCandless and Henri Lipmanowicz. The duo shares how formal, intentional structured conversation can lead to breakthrough opportunities for problem solving, innovation, and creative thinking. I highly recommend the website and book to anyone working with teams.

I’m so happy that Sue asked me to look into the work of McCandless and Lipmanowicz. Essentially, I had been asking for advice on how best to engage millennials at my office. I’ve tried a number of tactics and she stated clearly: “involve them! Millennials want to be engaged, they want to be asked to step up. Do that, and you can unlock a lot of opportunities”. Too many supervisors see recent generations as foreign, as focused on their phones. But they fail to really look at the persons. Simply ask folks what they want, and you’ll get a good answer. Offer them real, intentional opportunities to step in and get involved, and you get results.

The Liberating Structures book and website both have suggestions for activities. Our staff team at Bark tried out the activity the 9 Why’s and it helped us explore the real essence behind our work in a fun, structured way. The activity “1-2-4-All” is an easy way to ask any question to a larger group to process using smaller subgroups that keep on getting bigger until you’ve reached a consensus. We even worked on an activity that taught participants how to effectively ask for What you Want! Wow.

Menu of Liberating Structures

Activities even include drawing and roleplaying.

Give the Liberating Structures a try or ask our team at S & G Endeavors to join your team for a fun half-day or full-day retreat to build teamwork, collaboration and up staff engagement.

Bike Austin – Making Strides to Bicycle Safety/Advocacy

 

A few years ago we facilitated the strategic planning for Bike Austin, and now they are starting to see the fruits of their labor, to learn more about their summit, read our blog post by clicking here.

Over the past two year’s Bike Austin has had two major accomplishments with the City of Austin, Prop 1, and the recent Travis County Bond, Prop A.

 

According to Bike Austin’s mid-December update ” This is the most money ever allocated to bicycling in one year.”

They are not only focused on Austin alone but all of Central Texas, they have become “community advocates, not just bike advocates!”

Other accomplishments highlighted in the mid-December update include:

  • Won nearly $220,000,000 for protected bike lanes and safety improvements throughout Central Texas
  • Helped elect bike-friendly City Leaders
  • Worked to ensure all city departments collaborate to build a complete network
  • Grew our Neighborhood Bike Advocacy program to run Complete Street campaigns in four City Council Districts
  • Collaborated with partner organizations to ensure CAMPO (our six county metropolitan planning organization) included an effective Active Transportation Plan.
  • Along with the Austin Police Department, educated 280 motorists on the 3’ / 6’ Passing Law, through the purchase of the BSMART technology

Be sure to check out Bike Austin for more accomplishments and updates.

 

Ready for strategic planning? Contact us and let one of our facilitators guide you through the process.

 

S&G’s own Jeremy Grandstaff joins discussion panel with Nonprofit Ally

Our own Jeremy Grandstaff sat on a recent webcast panel with Nonprofit Ally, discussing how emerging nonprofits can gain grant funding and other sources to grow into an established organization.  The panel also discussed building the capacity of your nonprofit, the importance of having a defined purpose, and the need for a strategic plan to guide you through the growth of your team.  To learn more about the discussion and listen to the webcast click the play button below.

Jeremy Guests on Podcast – Building your Organizations Capacity

Recently Jeremy was asked to be a guest on a podcast, with Steve Vic of Nonprofit Ally,  to discuss ways that non-profit leaders can build their organizational capacity, resulting in an “emerging” and strong organization.

Jeremy spoke of the importance of having a strong/effective team, running effective/meaningful meetings, and engagement of the entire staff and stakeholders.

Click the link below to listen to the entire podcast, and a special thanks to Steve Vic for having us on the program.

NPA 077 – How to be an Emerging Nonprofit

CoffeeWithJeremy.TV transforms to better serve you (Check Out SGEConnections.TV)

The power of dialog, when coupled with the use of small group approaches, can help an organization create buy-in and increase ownership to the actions produced from discussions.

Thursday December 21st we launched SGE Connections, a live monthly discussion designed to connect S & G Endeavors clients with tools, techniques, and knowledge to transform th Read more ›