Consulting and Training Service Directory

Below — organized by topic area — is a list of services we provide. Most are available either on a consulting basis (at an hourly rate) or in the form of a training workshop or seminar for a flat fee. To learn more about a particular service, click on its title (where a link is available), or contact us by phone at 612-874-0535 or by email. (At present we do not offer consulting and training in the areas of fund raising or marketing.) Ask also about our "Train the Trainer" curriculum. More on our Consulting and Training Program.

Governance, Policy, and Planning

The Center offers consulting and training seminars which help board members better understand their roles, the optimal relationship between board and staff, and how to effectively constitute and develop the board itself as a policy-making body with oversight of organization mission and direction.

The Center believes a mission statement has much more than symbolic importance, and that, indeed, it is the ultimate standard against which program outcomes are defined and evaluated. To this end, the Center has developed tools which help to determine whether a mission statement has outlived its usefulness or whether it remains a living part of an organization.

The policies which form an organization culture and guide its programs are crafted from the soil of mission, stakeholders, and core values. Only in this way can they have staying power, relevance, measurability, accountability, and compliance. At the same time, while all policies address a goal or problem, not all goals or problems are most effectively addressed by a policy. The Center can help the board navigate this question based on organization values and on projections of policy consequences.

Policies worth taking care to develop are later worth taking care to analyze and assess. To this end the Center employs outcomes and performance measures which are custom-designed specifically for the evaluation of policy efficacy. The Center examines the achievement of intended results as well as disparities of access or outcomes and then makes objective recommendations for improvement in a thorough process and comprehensive report.

The Center uses a contextual, results-based assessment process to help an organization stay relevant and "on mission." With data survey tools and outcome-based methodologies we verify that your programs are truly on course. We also assess the characteristics of a positive culture and the climate or readiness for change within the organization.

Strategic planning puts everything on the table for reflection, revision, and re-evaluation. It integrates the plans of individual departments and programs into a cohesive organizational plan which reflects and honors the mission. The Center assists in the composition of the strategic plan and seeks to ensure that it truly serves your organization.

Periodic time for reflection, revisioning, refocusing, and team building is an essential element of leadership and effectiveness. The Center works with an organization or group to design an agenda that addresses key issues, meets the learning needs of participants, and allows for informed decisions regarding personal renewal and organizational direction. The Center also can provide content and facilitate the sessions as desired.

Administration and Operations

In training and consulting with managers, the Center uses indicators which come directly from the client, (i.e. from its mission, board policies, grant obligations, and stakeholder satisfaction). Ultimately the test of effective management consists of sustainable outcomes for the whole organization. Against this backdrop of accountability we also provide individualized coaching in the areas of recruitment, interviewing, supervision, getting the most out of your staff, retention of culturally diverse work force, and more.

Right to Supervision

This workshop examines the obligation and skill of supervisors to provide constructive and honest performance feedback and invest in the successful development of their employees.

The genesis of any new program is a need unserved or underserved. This we all know. But it behooves us not only to identify and establish such needs but also to assess why they exist to begin with, for the answer will help shape the new program which the need inspires. We at the Center can help with custom tools designed to ferret out this information and we have expertise and experience in developing new programs and jump-starting old ones.

For the Center, teamwork is not a slogan but rather a serious undertaking. We have developed a proven approach which evaluates and measures the extent to which staff persons, departments, and even programs complement each other in order to facilitate a holistic service to the mission.

We believe facilitation is a critical skill for all managers and leaders. Whether it is running a meeting, facilitating a collaborative project, engaging stakeholders in a planning process, or helping teams be more effective, good facilitation makes the difference between success and failure. A key skill is to handle the conflict of divergent viewpoints and range of personalities to ensure each is valued as a part of the whole and gets integrated into a decision and action plan that has support. Our training and coaching in the area of facilitation spans from a multi-week intensive master-level program to skills and processes for working with committees, and quick tips for running effective meetings.

The Center offers methods and tools designed to measure the effectiveness of processes (at both the governance and operations levels) against the benchmarks established by defined outcomes and by the mission statement. We start with a systems approach informed by the discipline of a quality framework (Baldrige or TQM) to assess whether a process serves the organization well. We identify and remove superfluous steps, we help determine which stages can operate in parallel and which are true dependencies for each other, and we evaluate what improvements can be made directly by the people involved to gain both efficiency and effectiveness.

Project Management

At this time the Center does not provide training in this topic area, but we do provide project management services directly via our Program Management and Administration. This is ideal for organizations which lack the personnel to manage a specific project and yet which want a management structure brought to bear. The Center can manage timelines, critical path, resource allocation, budget and financial structure, etc., for the project of a client.

Performance is where the rubber meets the road. It's what validates (or invalidates) an organization's internal policies, plans, and processes. It is both the means whereby a program delivers its product as well as the product itself. The Center works directly with your organization and staff on the development of performance measures and evaluation criteria; and we provide tools which define and measure performance and which uncover and diagnose any breakdown (at the policy, planning, or process level) so a correction can be made quickly and cost-effectively.

Relationships: Board, Staff, Partners, Stakeholders, Community

One of our core beliefs is that nothing can long exist in isolation and that our relationships sustain us. Indeed, from board to staff to stakeholders, organizations are built upon and consist in relationships. Moreover, as our name suggests, there is a fundamental relationship between policy, planning, (including the process of engagement), and performance, (or the implementation, outcome, and accountability of our actions). It is through the synergy of our relationships that we sustain our success and our sense of purpose and mission, and this is why the relationship itself is a focus of our work.

The Center has produced a curriculum of workbooks and exercises which it makes available to trainers, human resource professionals, and others who seek to create and sustain a safe workplace environment free of discord, harassment, and violence. The training includes cross-cultural communication, problem solving, creative responses to conflict, and the development of policies which promote a respectful workplace.

The Center trains people to better understand their own values and approaches to conflict as well as some of the differences others bring to conflict situations. We provide training in basic mediation, victim-offender mediation, and alternative conflict resolution used in the school, workplace, family, and community.
The principles of Restorative Justice guide our work in mediation. They include a commitment to do no harm, to facilitate a process of story telling and honoring of experiences, to prepare people for direct dialogue when possible, and to support resolution of conflict that addresses the harm experienced, builds the capacity of those involved to better meet their future needs, and keeps people in relationships that respect human dignity.

No matter how rich in skill or experience, no organization or government agency can do it all. The good news, though, is that none has to do so. Between the extremes of overreaching and scaling back there is a third alternative. We can work jointly with each other. In short, we can collaborate. Some nonprofit boards and executives work under the assumption that the need to collaborate indicates a failing of some kind; but there is good reason to collaborate even when resources are abundant; and in recognition of this reality, the Center can help.

The bedrock of any organization or government is the community within which it works. As such, citizen engagement is both a means to an end and an end itself. It's a means insofar as it gives greater legitimacy to policies and programs, and it's an end insofar as each client, member, constituent, and stakeholder is also a citizen in a community, and serving them is part and parcel of an organization's mission or government's mandate.

Human Resources: Developing the Individual

Peter Drucker has said that the most important task of leaders today is to know what they do well and to place themselves where they can be effective. The Center offers a variety of self-assessment tools to help people better understand how they work, how others perceive them, and how to be effective as a leader using their strengths and attending to their weaknesses. We also provide coaching and a support group on an ongoing basis.

This two-part training helps internal change agents better understand the dynamics and requirements of successful long-term change and to use their own skills and power to sustain a change process within their organizations. It also helps organizations to better recognize, nurture, and harness the power of its change agents.

Leadership can vary in style and approach, but a common denominator among all leaders is that they are willing to take risks for a vision. The Center cultivates and builds on this quality by performing an assessment in order to understand the values and approaches of individuals. We then help leaders understand the relationships between risk, courage, and ethics.

Cultural Competence

Understanding the cultural context of any situation is key to finding a successful solution. Valuing diversity is essential to building teams, engaging stakeholders, and using the strengths and assets of people with wide ranging skills, personalities, and heritage. The Center provides training materials which build competence in assessing, understanding, appreciating, and integrating culture and cultural differences on inter-personal, organizational, and social levels.

This program seeks to ensure that the value of diversity goes beyond a mere head count and that minorities (such as the African immigrant worker) can succeed in this (American) culture and have good working relationships with their employers.

Increasing Resilience: Bouncing Back During Times of Change

Introduction to Systems Thinking