The Six Secrets of Change, by Michael Fullan

All of you have visions of results to strive for: in assessment practices; in Board policies and practices of all kinds; in strategic planning and financial management; in the relationship between Board Chair and Executive Director; in fund-raising.  What Fullan’s phrase does is put those results where they belong – not as vague hopes but as specific goals, not as things to talk and think about when we pause from our work but as the concepts that should animate our daily work.  

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Leadership and the New Science, by Margaret Wheatley

Wheatley notes that 20th-century science teaches us that the world is not as orderly and bound by physical laws as we once thought.   If you think that Newton got it right and the universe unfolds logically, think again.  Citing chaos theory, fractals, and the like, Wheatley observes that while a larger system finds an order, things are quite unpredictable at the local level.  Suddenly we begin to understand why our best-laid plans often go awry.

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Nonprofit Lifecycles, by Susan Stevens

The first book I would propose for your shelf would be Nonprofit Lifecycles by Susan Stevens.  At the Dodge Foundation, we used to buy this book by the carton to hand out to our grantees.  Stevens presents a stage-based approach to understanding organizational development, identifying and explaining the following stages: Idea; Start-Up; Growth; Maturity; Decline; Turnaround; Terminal.

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Change by Design, by Tim Brown

Brown argues persuasively that design thinking is not reserved for architects and landscape gardeners, or those working on product teams at Apple or Gucci.  My favorite notion in his book can be represented by a Venn diagram with three intersecting circles.  Design thinkers are searching for the sweet spot in the middle of the drawing where three elements/conditions overlap: Desirability; Viability; and Feasibility. Viability means can we afford it?  Feasibility means is it possible?  Let’s note that in the social profit world, feasibility has technical, political, and cultural dimensions; it can get complicated.

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