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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 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 (

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.


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.



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 [email protected] 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 ›

Recap of ISODC Roundtable 4 – An Exploratory Conversation of how you use Power in your Work.

On December 5th we, along with our partners at ISODC, continued our ISODC Roundtable series titled Power and Power Dynamics.  The purpose of this roundtable was “To bring practitioners and scholars to the table to explore power and power dynamics, effects on our workings with others, and how we can use them to empower others positively”

Joined by our partners at NEXUS4change and the center for Appreciative Inquiry, S & G Endeavors facilitated two virtual conversations for ISODC, so that we could attract all cultures and all time zones.

Check out some of the highlights and watch the calls below.


Roundtable Call 1 Key Learning’s


  • Power is a concept that is pervasive in organizations. Empowerment can talk about giving more people options. The ability to control an organization and the people in it to influence that organization.
  • A realm of influence—comes at all levels of the organization—the realm of influence that they have is the key. It is interesting how power can build a web of influence.
  • Project confidence and assertiveness—at the same time, you have to know how to temper it
  • Organizations aren’t all the same—change initiatives and change designs are not all the same. Be careful making assumption that the values of the change agent match the values of the organization. This directly impacts the success of the change initiative.

To view the raw notes from the call click here .

View a recording of the morning conversation by clicking the play button below:

Roundtable Call 2 Key Learning’s


  • The person who is perceived as bullying wouldn’t see themselves as a bully. Find the place that the people have in common. Where is the point of agreement to find the place of agreement beforehand? Look at that undesired behavior in terms of the common vision.
  • Identify how to direct that energy in the most impacting and productive way—what will allow me to use my power in the most effective way
  • Is possible that a manager is micromanaging too much—then the employees can let the manager know they can take care of it
  • Sometimes the person expected to be in power—has to learn how to get out of their own way

To view the raw notes from the call click here.

View a recording of the afternoon conversation by clicking the play button below:

Five Tips—A Cheat Sheet to Make Sure Your Meetings are Effective

How many times do you walk into a meeting with high hopes, thinking “we are finally going to get something done?” You try to fully engage in the meeting, only to walk out feeling defeating, saying, “that was a waste of my time; I have no idea what I’m supposed to do after that.”


At S&G, we provide one-on-one coaching or even group training for our clients that helps ensure all meetings are effective, empowering, and the best use of time for all participants.


But, as we come to a close for the year, we wanted to get you thinking about your upcoming meetings. And, to help you, we’ve put together a sort-of cheat sheet below, to help you make sure your meetings in 2018 are effective, more meaningful, and worthy of all those involved.

1. Remember first that a  good meeting is planned well. To help you, engage a design team that is representative of all of the stakeholder groups of attendees to help you answer important questions that become, what we call, the complete design for the meeting. The size of your design team is relative to the size of the attendees of your meeting.

  • Ensure your meeting design identifies a well-defined purpose for the meeting, for if you don’t know where you want to end up, you will never know if your meeting will get you there. Sometimes we ask: What is the overall difference this meeting will make for participants?
  • A good design also identifies the conversations and activities that are critical for us to include, so that we can ensure we achieve the meeting purpose.
  • Identify Who needs to be invited to participate in the conversations at the meeting.
  • As part of your meeting design, identify meeting logistics, I.E., who is taking notes? Who is running the meeting? Do you need a facilitator? What materials are needed?
  • Finally, a good design also create a plan for promoting the meeting and getting people to attend.


2. The power of a strong agenda – Many of the questions identified in your meeting design (see above) will help you create a strong meeting agenda to guide your meeting to success. Share the agenda with participants (ideally three to five days in advance), including any other preparation needed to make the best use of their time. Things to make sure you include in your agenda are:

  • Meeting Date/Time
  • Meeting’s physical Location or instructions to join the meeting virtually (depending on what is appropriate)
  • Purpose of the meeting
  • Any specific instructions or references to attachments to help participants prepare for the meeting
  • An agenda of activities (for each activity, include a space on the agenda for timing; Topic; Purpose; and, Inputs/Notes/Outputs). This last section of each activity is where you can take notes or record action items.


3. The power of effective reports that are sent in advance—Getting people to send in reports ahead of time allows the meeting leader to combine reports together, send them out in advance, and to spend more time, at our meeting, discussing or asking questions over reports. Just remember that:

  • Yes, we are creating an expectation that people read the reports in advance; or, we will give them a chance to read them at the beginning of the meeting.
  • Attendees can ask questions of clarification, giving people an opportunity to better understand the information they are receiving.
  • We now have more time to discuss or deliberate on those identified conversations from our reports—a much more productive and better use of our time together.


4. The power of small group dialogue can transform our conversation—Reworking our agenda to allow us to break a group of more than eight into smaller groups. During these small group break-out conversations, we move thoughts from an individual to the smaller group, and then group thoughts from the smaller group to the larger group. By using such a process, we:

  • Allow everyone to engage in meaningful conversation;
  • Keep the meeting moving along;
  • Create an opportunity to share individual thoughts, more formed thoughts, within our small group;
  • Share out our priorities with the larger group; and,
  • Let’s us, as a whole group, truly build consensus.


5. The power of a great closing—A great closing to a meeting leaves participants more excited and knowing what they need to do next. Things to keep in mind:

  • Identify the action items as a result of discussions at the meeting and make sure you have assigned each action to someone with a due date.
  • Identify other next steps, especially when we will meet next and other details.
  • Create an opportunity for people to evaluate or provide feedback on the meeting, as a whole. This can be done with a paper evaluation; or, you could simply ask for people to quickly and verbally check out with a couple questions: (1) What are you taking from today’s conversation; and, (2) What feedback do you have to help us make sure our next meeting is more successful.


At S&G, we understand it can be difficult to keep meetings both effective and engaging for all participants, but we are here to help, both with the cheat sheet tips above and by working with you directly.  


Contact us for a consult and let’s see if our executive coaching or training can help your organization create engaging and effective meetings that transform your work in 2018.