CompassPoints of View

Strategic Plans That Go Bump In The Night

With humor as one of our guiding principles, CompassPoint has a long history of poking fun at ourselves and the nonprofit sector to skewer some “sacred cows” and celebrate the experiences that bring our field together. Our cartoon series, Planet 501c3, was created by Miriam Engleberg, ran from 1999-2005 and made fun of everything from fundraising to never-ending meetings and beyond. This Halloween, we’re having a chuckle with a topic that’s usually too hallowed to joke about—strategic plans!

Shared Leadership in Teams: Part 3 in a 3-Part Series on Effective Teams

In the third blog in this three-part series, Project Director Lupe Poblano discusses the role of leaders in teams, and how shared leadership can help teams thrive. In Part 2 he explored team decision making, specifically, when and how teams should be used for decision making. In Part 1, he explored common definitions for teams and outlined the circumstances that help them function at their highest level.

Why Problems Matter

In this thought piece, strategy and sustainability consultant and trainer Shannon Ellis writes about the power of a well-crafted problem statement in helping an organization strategically respond to the question “How are we currently thinking about the problem we are working to address?” It’s a useful filter and often a first step in CompassPoint’s work with organizations to develop a decision-making framework to strategically guide their actions going forward. 

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Mastering Team Decision Making: Part 2 in a 3-Part Series on Effective Teams

In Part 2 of this three-part series on effective teams, Project Director Lupe Poblano explores team decision making, specifically, when and how teams should be used for decision making. In Part 1, he explored common definitions for teams and outlined the circumstances that help them function at their highest level.

“Democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.” - Winston Churchill

What Are Teams and When Do They Work? Part 1 in a 3-Part Series on Teams

At CompassPoint, we know that understanding how to work in a team is an indispensable part of leading with others. Working collaboratively helps organizations learn together, unearths new ideas, and can bring unheard voices to the table. Project Director Lupe Poblano explores teams in this new blog series. In Part 1, he explores common definitions for teams and outlines the circumstances that help them function at their highest level.

Team Agreements: A Path to Peace

We believe that operating with clarity, consistency, and intention is key to sound organizational communication. In this guest blog, organizational consultant Alicia Santamaria shares her thoughts on the value of team agreements as a means toward building an organizational approach that is intentional and that sets clear expectations of how people can work together constructively when conflicts arise. Alicia will be leading the class Constructive Conflict Resolution for CompassPoint on November 5. 

Do You Have “Right Revenue”?


Jeanne Bell and Steve Zimmerman

In this excerpt from our forthcoming book, The Sustainability Mindset by Jeanne Bell and Steve Zimmerman (coming fall 2014 from Jossey-Bass), we explore the concept of “right” revenue as a way of analyzing and deepening your understanding of the connection between financial resources and mission impact. While revenue diversity has long been held up as a cure-all for financial challenges, the truth is that all money is not equal when it comes to resourcing social change. Research demonstrates that successful nonprofits often invest deeply in a primary type of income and build a strong secondary stream that helps to mitigate some of the risk inherent in the primary stream. Given that, a much more relevant – and strategic – question is to explore how well your dominant revenue streams are aligned with your intended impact. That’s the question driving this chapter from The Sustainability Mindset.

At CompassPoint we often talk about “right revenue” as the state of your revenue working in concert with your intended impact and values. Rather than focusing solely on the question of income diversification, the fundamental question is this: Do you have the right revenue to pursue your intended impact in a financially viable manner that is aligned with your organizational values? To determine the qualities of right revenue, we suggest that your group look comprehensively at your particular set of revenue strategies and explore five questions.

CompassPoint's Summer Reading Guide

CompassPoint is a lab for new ideas, and we're always looking to feed our own thinking. We're a team of avid learners, so it's no surprise that in our search for the best leadership approaches to move us all closer to social equity, many of us have also become bookworms.

Ah, summer time. A chance to get outdoors, unwind, and catch up on some non-required reading. Diving into a few guilty pleasures is most definitely in order, but summer reading can also be a chance to fuel thinking, spark your curiosity about new ideas, and maybe even shift your approach to work. That's why we've collected a handy list of staff picks to help you curate your own summer reading list, featuring thoughts on the power of introverts, what we can learn from the motivations of zombies, strategies for working in teams, and more.

Here's a peek at what's occupying the bookshelves of CompassPoint staff this summer: 

Am I Asking the Right Questions?

We’re excited to welcome our newest practice member Lupe Poblano to the CompassPoint fold – and we’re equally excited to share his first blog for us on the topic of inquiry and its importance as a leadership tool. Lupe joined our practice in early July, though the guidance in this post align with CompassPoint's leadership approach like he’s been on staff for years. He’s clearly at the right place. 

“Human systems grow in the direction of what they persistently ask questions about.” – David L. Cooperrider

Are We Addicted to Urgency?

These days, we’ve been spending a lot of time with exhausted leaders. Our experience usually goes something like this:

A highly talented and productive CEO (or Program Director or Associate Director) of a nonprofit shows up to our meeting feeling defeated, exhausted, and burned out. She has too much to do and not enough time to do it. She feels guilty taking time off of work because things are just “too crazy” right now. She is still running on fumes from preparing for and pulling off a presentation at the very last minute. Her voicemail is full, her email is full, and she complains about spending her days putting out fires. She isn’t sure there is an end in sight, yet after venting for a bit, she pauses and says, “But, at least I’m getting stuff done!”

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