The Ideaction Blog

Marking Fifth Anniversary of the Earthquake In Haiti: Progress and Hope

Posted by Kelly O'Brien on January 12, 2015

"Put your foot - wear it makes a difference"

On my trip through South America, I walked A LOT. I put to rest two pairs of flip flops -- but my favorite pair stood the test of time and miles. My sandals from Rebuild Globally never wavered, still look great and are incredibly comfortable. I remember thinking, I really need to send Julie (CEO of REBUILD) a note telling her how awesome these sandals are.

Well, as serendipity would have it, on the last week of my trip, I received an email from her to me asking if IDEACTION CORPS would help them get the word out about their new for-profit social enterprise and their partnership with Kenneth Cole - which launched today on the 5th anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti.

Deux Mains Designs employs Haitian craftsmen and women to make high-quality sandals from upcycled tires, paying a living wage that has enabled all of Deux Mains employees to move into safe and secure housing, send their children to school without outside aid, and have medical insurance for themselves and their families. Three of the Haitian management staff has ownership in the newly registered Haitian business. The affiliate nonprofit, Rebuild, provides apprenticeship opportunities for vulnerable youth.

Ideaction Corps could not be more proud and more thrilled to work with Julie Colombino and Deux Mains.

On this, the the 5th anniversary of the catastrophic quake that hit ‪#‎Haiti‬, consider purchasing a pair of sandals. You'll get a great pair of shoes. But you will also be directly supporting employment for Haitian artisans, school for their kids, and housing for their families.

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Kelly O'Brien is the President and Founder of Ideaction Corps, a full service social change agency whose clients include companies and causes doing good. She's passionate about helping people and organizations find the path to work with purpose, big ideas and infecting grace. She can be reached at @kellymobrien or @ideactioncorps on Twitter, or via the Ideaction Corps website.

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Do you need a coach?

Posted by Kelly O'Brien on October 2, 2014

Free Coaching Opportunity for Advancing Professionals

I have to admit that I was a "coach skeptic." Being an executive coach or a life coach seems trendy these days, and I succumed to the perspective that coaching was too wishy-washy, and that I was just too stubborn to really change. But I was wrong. Working with coaches - and now I have many- have helped me become a better leader, a better dater, and a better person. I've actually changed a great deal. And Ideaction Corps has been exponentially assisted by experienced people offering to work with me.  

One of these people is Dale Primer. Dale's company, Primer Michaels is a member of Ideaction Corps. They have been helping senior leaders acheive their goals for nearly 30 years, working with leaders at Fortune 500 companies like Kraft and Motorola, UBS and Pfizer, as well as nonprofit leaders and emerging businesses. He’s an entrepreneur, business owner & leader. So when Dale approached me about offering his services free of charge to advancing professionals at the cusp of their career as he enters the last chapter of his, I was moved.  I am honored to share his gifts with others. 

Dale is offering a unique opportunity you do not want to miss: six months of free coaching.  He is offering to work with advancing professionals for six months without fees. Specifically, Dale is accepting applications from individuals 30-49 years old with income above 50,000 at the manager (or imminent) manager level.  

If you are interested, contact Dale directly. If you know someone who may be interested, please share this information.  

Kelly O'Brien is the President and Founder of Ideaction Corps, a full service social change agency whose clients include companies and causes doing good. She's passionate about helping people and organizations find the path to work with purpose, big ideas and infecting grace. She can be reached at @kellymobrien or @ideactioncorps on Twitter, or via the Ideaction Corps website.

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Congrats!  You’re Data-Driven.  Now Ask Yourself,  How Mission-Driven Is My Data?

Posted by by Jim Chesire & Andrew Rice on July 27, 2014

Non-profits that are able to adapt to the new social impact market while staying true to their missions – what we call new market leaders – will be able to reap great benefits in growth and sustainability, while those who aren’t will be on a path to go out of business.

One major currency in this new social impact market is your organization’s ability to manage, use and report on your data – your program performance management infrastructure.

The New Speed of Effectiveness

A fundamental characteristic of the new market is the wider availability of information to make better decisions and take more precise action, for both funders and providers.  In the old-market, monitor-and-evaluate days, a premium was placed on certainty of information over speed of action. The new market, still valuing classic program evaluation, relies more on real-time, data-informed continuous improvement much like businesses operating in the for-profit space.  However, the high complexity and high stakes unique to social service systems require fast, nimble and very high quality decisions. Our current state of technology finally allows program providers and program funders to move at that speed with greater clarity.

Old Challenges Remain

Non-profit organizations incur significant costs in time and funds to manage and braid together incredibly diverse portfolios of grants and gifts in order to stay afloat and effective. These costs leave little room for executives to prioritize operational innovation and strategic change management within an annual, much less quarterly, cycle.  Organized strategic decision-making is still typically done only when pro-bono consulting services can be secured, often on a 3-5 year time cycle.  

We have seen new market leaders find ways to innovate every day. They use their programmatic performance management data as a support to their human capital. Individual staff are enabled and empowered in their daily, weekly and monthly cycles of work to make increasingly innovative and strategic operational decisions that can collectively move the organization forward as a whole in very short cycles.  How do they do this?   

Window of Opportunity

To seize this window of opportunity presented by the changing market while accounting for the pressing realities most non-profit organizations face, we developed the program Performance Management Infrastructure (PMI) Assessment based on research and nearly a decade of working to build the organizational capacity of community based non-profits in Chicago.  Through our work, we’ve come to believe that there are five key elements of an organization’s PMI that must be present in order for programs to be data-informed and that data to be mission-driven:

  1. Research Base:  Organizations draw on research of their own or sufficiently similar program models to optimize program practices and PMI design.
  2. Theory of Change:  Organizations have a framework of accountability to accurately assess the quality of their practices and results.
  3. Management Information System (MIS):  Organizations align their data collection and assessment practices to their mission through technology.
  4. Data Quality:  Organizations have confidence that the goals they set and the actions they take are grounded in the day-to-day realities of their programs.
  5. Continuous Improvement & Data-Informed Culture:  Organizations have staff who are bought in to measure and assess their performance in the context of their daily experiences and using that information to continuously improve the quality of their work.

What’s Next?

Our goal is to create a research-validated, standardized framework for benchmarking how well structured an organization is to transform granted dollars, through its mission, into results achieved. However you do it, we strongly urge you to find a low-cost way to reliably assess your program performance management infrastructure together with assessments of your organization’s financial and administrative capacity.

For more information about implementing a Performance Management Infrastructure, a workshop for your team, or to share your success story, reach out to us.

Bolster Mission Consulting was founded by Jim Chesire and Andrew Rice in May 2013 to help quality not-for-profit organizations solve the most immediate challenges to the precision and scale of their community impact. Jim and Andrew have 25 years experience in local government, not-for-profits and human services, developing, managing, and evaluating large-scale, high impact projects.

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