Coalescing a Community of Leaders

High performance—by organizations, networks, and communities—must be the norm if we are to make meaningful progress in addressing society’s most challenging problems

Vision and Purpose

The Leap of Reason Ambassadors Community is a private community of nonprofit thought leaders, leader practitioners, forward-looking funders, policy makers, and instigators who believe that mission and performance are inextricably linked. The community’s audacious vision is to trigger a vital core of the social sector to embrace the importance of high performance.

Coalescing a Community of Leaders

Watch Mario Morino explain the Leap Ambassadors Community model to individuals who have been nominated and vetted by ambassadors. You can download the presentation slides here.

Social and public sector leaders—practitioners, funders, policymakers, and instigators—have come together as a community bringing depth of knowledge and experience; passion for inspiring others; and a commitment to increasing adoption of high performance in the field—to pursue our shared purpose and tap our collective IQ

Community forms the nucleus of what we hope will be expanding concentric circles of nonprofit and civic leaders, funders, and public servants who share this core commitment to high performance.

Rally Around A Shared Purpose – Inspire, support, and convince nonprofit and public sector leaders (and their stakeholders) to build great organizations for greater societal impact and to increase the expectation and adoption of high performance as the path to this end

Core Values and Guiding Principles

Our credibility defines who we are as a community. We come together out of a mutual respect for one another, and build trust by communicating honestly and working toward our shared goal. With this foundation, every member protects the credibility of the community as a whole.

Mission and performance are inextricably linked. High performance is an essential prerequisite to deliver meaningful and lasting results for the people and causes we serve, and ensure a more just and sustainable world.

High performance is a long, obstacle-filled journey. Direction and continuous improvement are more important than distance.

Changing minds and attitudes toward high performance starts with the doers and believers—and expands to those who are pre-disposed or open.

Trusted relationships are the essential connective tissue of community.

How we engage is as important as what we produce—we intentionally seek diverse perspectives and expertise and value an open and transparent environment, in which we share successes, challenges, and obstacles with candor.

We respect present and past leaders who have worked tirelessly to advance high performance within their organizations and throughout the social and public sectors; we seek collaboration, not competition.

Our Strategy for Change

Imagine the power of 300 respected leaders regularly speaking out in their communities and networks with a unified message to funders, policymakers, and nonprofit leaders: Building high-performance organizations is a vital pathway to achieve meaningful, measurable, and financially sustainable results for the people and causes served.

Imagine that these 300 leaders are linked together in, and supported by, a community of peers—a network greater than the sum of its parts.

Imagine this community of peers tapping its collective knowledge and experience to help each other:

  • perform better in their own work, communities, and networks
  • continuously hone the “performance matters” message
  • learn ways to deliver this message more effectively
  • collaboratively develop products that benefit thousands of other nonprofits and funders eager to be more effective in meeting their critically important missions.

Imagine yet further these 300 leaders scaling to three, four, or even five times their numbers through a thoughtful, systematic process of engaging and energizing other leaders with a strong affinity for the community’s purpose, desire to be involved, and knowledge of what it takes to build high-performance organizations.

Imagine doing this steadily over many years and how mindsets in our sector could shift.

This is the Leap Ambassadors Community’s strategy for change—what we are meant to do and become.

What Success Looks Like

As more nonprofits become high-performing organizations and more funders and partners support their efforts, the social sector sees better results for people and causes served. That’s the ultimate win for our community. We know that high performance is the quintessential “slow idea”—that is, it won’t proliferate on its own. It will take thousands of leaders spreading the gospel of high performance within their circles of trust. And it will take leaders within those circles of trust coming to believe in the value of high performance for their organizations and their missions—not just as a “collective good” or another top-down mandate from funders.

Interim success metrics by the end of 2020 include:

  • 300 ambassadors share a commitment to the community’s purpose, are actively engaged, are advocating in their communities and networks, and have jelled as a community of peers.
  • A core group of 10 to 12 ambassadors serves as executive advisory leaders to help guide community direction and evolution.
  • Community’s products (e.g., Performance Imperative, Performance Practice, the “Small, But Mighty” kickstarter) are broadly adopted:
    • At least three foundations/funders use them with their grantees and internally for grantmaking decisions, support, and development. *
    • At least 25 nonprofits use them to shift mindset and culture for their organization and its stakeholders. They use them to understand, accept, and implement high-performance disciplines and practices. *
    • One partnership with meaningful organization to help scale our impact
    • Twelve or more consultants use in their services and engagements. *
    • Two or more prominent nonprofit management and leadership programs in colleges, universities, and other educational providers incorporate them in their offerings. *
    • An institution creates a high-profile award or adapts an existing one recognizing high performance. *
    • A metro region uses them to successfully implement a community-wide learning initiative to improve nonprofit performance. *
    • Distribution channels reach an audience of more than 75,000 leaders and staff across the public, nonprofit, and private sectors with interest in improving the performance and impact of the social sector.
    • An article in a mainstream publication (e.g., Atlantic, WSJ) features the Leap Ambassadors Community’s purpose to shift mindsets around the importance of high-performance organizations.

*These objectives will be deemed met when a user story (Performance in Practice or Funder story) is published to recognize and capture the achievement.

Achieving these objectives depends on ambassadors’ availability and, most important, willingness to leverage their knowledge, networks, and relationships.

Act on Our Strategy for Change

To achieve our shared vision and purpose, the community:

  • Encourages each ambassador to demonstrate high performance
  • Spreads the message that mission and performance are inextricably linked
  • Provides multiple paths for learning from and supporting each other
  • Taps our collective knowledge
  • Advances the work of others aligned to our vision and purpose
  • Grows gradually to a critical mass … to exert meaningful influence

Start With “Early Adopters”

The community forms around a small cadre of leaders—doers and believers who passionately believe that mission and performance are inextricably linked.

Although focused on nonprofits in the U.S. with budgets of greater than $3 million (and theirstakeholders), elements of our work can apply to nonprofits and public agencies, big and small.

Grow to Critical Mass

Aligned to the first stage of the innovation curve, early adopters coalesce and learn from the diverse and collective knowledge of the community.  Through their influence and promotion of the community’s work, they reach other doers and believers.  As this core group grows, it invites leaders who are predisposed to the community’s vision and purpose to join, and eventually advocates the merits of the approach to convince those who are open to this cause. The expansion concept assumes no benefit from attempts to convince non-believers, skeptics, and those satisfied with the status quo. The benefit of collective knowledge and collaboration increase exponentially as the community grows, maximizing at the point of critical mass.

Assume “Slow Idea” Adoption

Triggering the mindset shift within a vital core of the social and public sectors to embrace the importance of high performance will follow the adoption model of a “slow idea.” After the initial formative years, the community is moving forward with strategies and campaigns to begin driving this slow, meaningful, sustainable movement.  Surgeon, writer, and public health researcher Atul Gawande explains this trajectory in “SLOW IDEAS: Some innovations spread fast. How do you speed the ones that don’t?” We don’t expect to hit inflection or tipping points, but, instead, “make progress, steady as it goes.”

A Long-Term Journey to Progress

This journey is an Ironman competition—long and difficult with multiple disciplines and stages. It’s not a sprint and could take 10, 15, or even 20 years. It requires a growing base of voices advancing the constant and consistent message that mission and performance are inextricably linked.

Answering the “To What End?”

Ultimately the community made high performance the norm to make meaningful progress in addressing society’s most challenging problems … it grows to a movement … and converts to a force for positive change.

“Converting a movement into a force for change” ─ Peter Drucker


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