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Management Support Organizations

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What’s So Special About this Course?
An Interview with MSO Leaders - May 2010

We confess we love every group that comes through the Institute’s Immersion Class. Whether they are just starting their consulting practice or they are 30+ year veterans, these are people who want their work to change the world. How amazing is that?!

Our special class for consultants affiliated with Management Support Organizations stood out from the rest, though. People who lead nonprofit resource centers, volunteer centers and similar programs wear two hats in their work. Yes, they share the same client issues as any other consultant. But they also run their own organizations, often facing the same board issues, fundraising issues, and measurement issues they are helping their clients navigate!

That dual role led to richly layered discussions and learning. We asked a few of the participants in that MSO class to share their thoughts about the class.

Debra Beck teaches nonprofit management at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, where she has been a driving force for developing a regional Boards Initiative. On behalf of the University, Debra also coordinates the Snowy Range Nonprofit Institute, running an annual conference for nonprofit leaders in the state.

Michael Kumer is the Executive Director and lead consultant / trainer at the soon-to-be-renamed Nonprofit Leadership Institute at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.

Allison Jones works with Michael as the other in-house consultant / trainer at the NLI.

What difference has the class made on the work your MSO is doing with organizations?

Michael: All the difference in the world! We’ve clarified/strengthened our “stand” regarding our highest aspirations for our own work, and we are clearer in our communications with clients about “who we are.”

Allison: One specific area of clarity has been an increase in our emphasis on core values, for ourselves and for our clients.

Debra: The immersion course has expanded exponentially both my vision of what is possible, and my toolbox from which to make it happen. What I particularly appreciate, and what drew me to the CDI’s work from the beginning, is that most of this lived inside of me all along. Participating in this class helped me articulate it, and fill in some pretty critical gaps in understanding how it all fits.

What difference has the class made for your MSO itself?

Debra: Our little MSO is so new, it feels like we are far from actually doing this work right now. But as we are building it, the class is informing everything about how we plan our work, how we engage people in building the initiative, the questions we are asking. It is informing everything about how we are creating it.

Michael: At the NLI we are now modeling what we teach to others (which alone made enrollment in the Immersion Course so vastly rewarding). We enjoy more powerful internal communication. And our decision-making has improved exponentially.

Allison: We can now articulate our philosophy (based on The Pollyanna Principles) into a whole approach to planning. And since both members of our in-house consulting staff have attended the course, we are completely aligned in our approach with clients.

You all attend workshops and conferences and classes as part of your job. What is different about what you learned at the CDI than what you have learned in other classes?

Debra: What I appreciated most was that the content began and ended with vision, mission and values. As a consultant called upon to deal with the practical challenges my clients face, I appreciated the chance to see – and frame – vision, mission and values in very actionable ways. They aren’t fuzzy concepts; they are absolutely real, absolutely tied to practical work, and absolutely inspiring.

Allison: Other classes focus on changing “nonprofits”, or maybe even changing the nonprofit sector, but the CDI class focuses on changing the world! This is the kind of stuff that makes you excited to get up in the morning. It is creative, inspiring and groundbreaking work.

Michael: That’s because we finally learned the “why” of our work (as opposed to merely the “how”).

What would you tell an MSO leader who is considering taking this class?

Debra: There are three reasons I would recommend taking this course:

  • The chance to explore (and take away) world-class content that has the potential to change both the world and the Community Benefit Sector that serves it.
  • The opportunities to practice this work, both as facilitator and as client, which increases your potential for effectiveness when you’re working with an organization in the field.
  • The instant peer group that you join - both your classmates and the broader CDI learning community.

Michael: The MSO Immersion course is a giant step in the thousand mile journey of self-discovery.

Learn about the January 2011 MSO class - and register now. The class is limited to only 10 participants! CLICK here


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