Greetings. I’m Jonathan Reed, the person who started this Center. I’d like to start by telling you why I started the Center. Except for two years, I’ve led my own consulting firm or consulted on my own since 1988. During this time, I consulted for a broad range of organizations, both in the US and abroad. They range from corporations like General Electric and government institutions like US Geological Survey’s Science Centers to small nonprofits. During my two-year hiatus from consulting in 2000 to 2002, I helped lead the Conservation Science Division of The Nature Conservancy.
To address the challenges we face
Given the challenges the world and our communities face, I decided some years ago to focus my consulting practice on helping organizations that are making a difference in the world. It seemed at the time, and even more so now, that the challenges we face are increasing faster than our ability to solve them. So I decided to do what I could, given my experience, to help these organizations better succeed at delivering on and supporting their missions.
You might think I’d focus solely on nonprofits and NGOs (non-governmental organizations that operate outside the US). But I’ve learned they haven’t cornered the market on making a difference in the world. That’s why we help what I call “world-changing” companies, governmental institutions, and nonprofits (I include NGOs in this category). They range from small organizations working in local communities to global organizations like the U.S. Agency for International Development, which has helped over 100 countries, and The Nature Conservancy, which works in over 30 countries. They also include companies that are as committed to making a difference as turning a profit.
Having made this commitment, I delved into the literature to see what management authors advise “mission-driven” organizations do to be more successful. What I discovered was …
… a huge disappointment.
Most of the books and articles on this subject reframe profit-making advice for commercial enterprises to nonprofits without addressing the unique challenges of world-changing companies, governmental institutions, and nonprofits. This was a major setback to me. Even though I had consulted for a number of world-changing organizations, I wanted to learn what experts on these organizations recommend as best ways to make them more successful. What I discovered was that almost nothing of substance had been developed to help these organizations. You can read my take on the state of the various management disciplines that should help world-changing organizations in the next submenu entitled “Our take on key management disciplines.”
Compare this dearth of knowledge to what was available when I started consulting in quality improvement in the late 1980s. By then, it was a mature field. Its leaders—Deming, Juran, Ishikawa, Box, Joiner, and others—wrote extraordinarily helpful books and articles on how to help companies produce high-quality products and services efficiently and at low cost. The high-quality and reliable Toyotas and Hondas many of us drive are testaments to their contributions to the field.
Our long research and development journey
So I began what turned into a multi-year journey of research and development on the ideas and tools that world-changing organizations need to be more successful. Three themes quickly emerged from my research: the need for better strategy and marketing as well as organizational development to a make a difference in the world. Though many subjects affect their success, none are as crucial as these three. Perhaps we’ll broaden what we offer in the future, but for now, we currently focus on these three subjects.
On this journey, I adapted “transferable” ideas and tools for profit-driven organizations to world-changing ones. For those I couldn’t adapt or were simply missing, I developed new ones. Having helped many organizations with strategic planning, I knew current planning models rarely produce effective strategic plans—even for companies. So I designed a completely new way for world-changing organizations to plan strategically. I took the opposite approach to strategic marketing. Being a robust and battle-tested discipline, I simply adapted its ideas and tools to world-changing organizations while adding a few unique world-changing features of my own.
Though it’s probably not obvious, I spent years researching and developing the world-changing ideas and material presented on this site and in our guides and workbooks. Only by wandering down many conceptual blind alleys did I stumble on the idea of using what supports, produces, and drives success as the organizing principle for strategic planning. The same goes for incorporating strategic marketing into strategic planning. In hindsight, it seems like an obvious fit. But like many of the ideas and tools present here and in our guides, it wasn’t.
How you can help support the center
The “opportunity costs” I’ve incurred devoting years to research and write about how to make world-changing organizations more successful has been significant. My goal is to help as many world-changing organizations as possible become more successful while still “keeping the lights on.” So how could I recoup my significant R&D costs while still helping as many organizations as I could? Here’s the business model I came up with:
- Give away our online guides and workbooks for free.
- Donations. Rely on the goodwill of those who use our online guides workbooks to reimburse us for our years of R&D by donating to the Center. If this seems reasonable to you, click on “Donate” in the menu to help defray our costs.
- Consulting and training services. Avail yourself of our consulting services that will help you implement our world-changing approaches to strategic planning, strategic marketing, and organizational development. We also provide presentations, workshops, and training courses on a range of world-changing topics.
- Buy printed versions of our guides and workbooks. Purchase them in the submenu Shop under Services.
Why I use the term “we“ instead of “me” on this website and in our guides
Several reasons: Anyone who does research and development, as well as creative work, stands on the shoulders of those who went before them. Though I might have pushed a few boundaries in the fields I’ve written about; earlier authors created those boundaries. I’ve also observed there are “we” and “me” oriented people. Though I strive to be among the former, I know I often fall into the latter. Thus, failing as I might in real life, I can at least pretend to succeed in the printed word. Another reason is readability: “we” just reads better and connotes less ego-investment than “me.” Last, through your support, the Center will grow into a larger organization where “we” represents all of us.