Sunday, November 12, 2006

7 Paths #89

During the November 2005 Evergreen Leaders board meeting Tutuk Horning held up a flower. “This flower has a form and a function. My English is not very good,” she said, "I do not know how to describe the form and function of Evergreen Leaders."

Other board members chimed in. "It's not your English, Tutuk. We don't know how to describe it either."

I recruited Tutuk, an Indonesian immigrant, to be on the board because I have this crazy idea that EGL will grow and teach organizations to thrive all over the world.

Now, two and half years into the venture, Tutuk and the board were telling me that they didn’t understand what Evergreen Leaders was about.

As I listened I felt an odd combination of gratitude and chagrin. Gratitude because Tutuk, our quietest board member, had simply and eloquently described the key issue. Like a flower, EGL needs a simple and beautiful way of describing its form and function.

Chagrin because after two and half years, I, who love putting concepts into words, still couldn't describe EGL with the simple beauty of a flower.

EGL started out with a mission to give ordinary people the skills to help their groups thrive. Soon we had three seven-hour workshops focusing on listening, envisioning and encouraging. But it was all too vague. It didn’t have the simple elegance of a flower.

The memory of Tutuk holding up that flower at the board meeting sent me on a quest, a search for treasure that EGL could offer to folks who long to help the organizations they are part of to thrive.

Twenty years ago Stephen R. Covey wrote is The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. That book has sold 20 million copies and continues to help individuals to be more effective. On my quest to identify the treasure that EGL has to offer, a question gradually began to take shape in my mind: What are the habits of highly effective organizations?

Eventually I synthesized thirty years of leading organizations and reading about thriving organizations into seven characteristics I call the 7 Paths of Thriving Organizations.

The treasure path is the first of the seven paths.

Every nonprofit organization thrives on discovering a treasure that a group of people is longing for, a treasure so powerful that service recipients seek it out and funders and donors willingly support it.

The 7 Paths is the golden egg, the treasure that EGL has to offer to organizations.

Nonprofits who use the 7 Paths can become great workplaces and transform the lives of the people who use their services.

What's your organization's treasure and who's seraching for it?

In the next issue of 7 Paths we'll focus on how to put into words your organization's or work group's treasure.

Wisdom for the week: You and your organization have a treasure someone's seeking.

Fair theee well, Rich

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