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Smarter, More Strategic Workforce Development in America

Posted November 30, 2012 3:44 PM by Angie Mareino

The typical American worker is changing across America, but the education systems aren’t keeping up. Too many Americans are stranded without the skills to get jobs in their own communities. This also puts growing employers in a challenging position: wanting to hire but not finding qualified employees. How can we have high unemployment, yet certain employers struggle to fill positions? Workforce Development programs attempt to tackle this important mission head on.

Fred Dedrick, the President of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, has been leveraging national and local funders to support regional funding collaboratives that invest in worker skills and key regional industries. The National Fund makes it their job to help provide career advancement opportunities for low-wage workers using a model of substantial employer engagement. The impact is a better skilled workforce and changes in public policies in 32 regional communities to make businesses more competitive and communities more sustainable. The National Fund understands that different communities have different profiles of the jobs that are in high demand, so there’s not a cookie cutter approach across America to solve the problem.

The Southwest Alabama Workforce Development Council (SAWDC) is one of the regional funding collaboratives with which the National Fund partners. Laura Chandler, its executive director, has made huge strides through partnerships with education organizations and industry groups to align workforce development with workforce needs.  And what has helped make SAWDC so successful? A little thing called the Balanced Scorecard. (We may have mentioned this tool before. wink) We’ll let Ms. Chandler show you how.

During a can’t-miss breakout session at our Mission-Driven Management Summit this March, Chandler and Dedrick will present each of their challenges and successes and lead a discussion about measuring your impact in areas where you rely on partnerships

National Fund has 32 partners like SAWDC and innumerable funders who want to see results. SAWDC has several industry clusters and many community colleges and other training organizations who all have different needs. How can they unite these various partners and interests to make an impact? The breakout session will explore how to apply these challenges to your own organization’s situation. Come to the Summit and return with new ideas to help your organization make a bigger impact. We think that’s pretty smart.


Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter with #MDMS13 and register while our rates are great!

Number 1 Reason to Attend the Mission-Driven Management Summit in March

Posted November 16, 2012 5:21 PM by Angie Mareino


And finally, here's our top reason the 2013 Summit is worth it!

1. Our theme this year, MISSION: POSSIBLE, centers around developing real-world skills to help make your organization's mission possible in the biggest, most impactful way: RESULTS!

Learn more at www.missiondrivensummit.com and register today. 

Reasons 5 through 2 - Why You Should Attend the Mission-Driven Management Summit in March

Posted November 15, 2012 9:31 AM by Angie Mareino

This week, we've been counting down our Top Ten reasons to attend our professional development training and sessions at the Mission-Driven Management Summit on March 5th and 6th in Washington, DC. Early Bird rates end on Friday, so make sure you register now and mark your calendars!

5. Meet us or pick our brains during a round of Speed Consulting! (We think that deserves at least a top 5 spot!)


4. Understand how to maintain alignment even during leadership change, as presented by the Department of Commerce.


3. Keynote speaker Dave Norton, Balanced Scorecard creator, will inspire you to put your strategy to work and understand Best Practices. 


2. Interact with your peers in breakout sessions with leaders from the Los Angeles Unified School District, the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, KIPP, and others. 

When Bad News Is Good News

Posted November 14, 2012 8:30 PM by Mark Cutler

Ted’s blog from Friday reminded me of one of the key moments in Ford’s turnaround as Bryce Hoffman described it in American Icon – and, no, we aren’t that nerdy that we have an Ascendant Book Club – not yet anyway.  When new Ford CEO Alan Mulally began holding his weekly management reviews with the executive leadership team, he was always getting good news – which was a bit suspicious as he had assumed leadership of a company trying to stay out of bankruptcy.

Mulally’s management reviews went on for weeks – maybe even months, I don’t completely remember – while he continued to receive rosy reports from his leadership team.  Until, that is, Ford Americas chief Mark Fields, who wasn’t sure if he was going keep his job at Ford under Mulally’s regime anyway, decided that he would “go out in a blaze of glory” and see if “this guy is for real” and true to his word that all he wanted was honesty.

more »

The Countdown Presses On: Grow as a Professional at our Annual Summit!

Posted November 14, 2012 11:25 AM by Angie Mareino

Let's do a double-header today! May the countdown of our top 10 reasons to attend our annual event to build your skills and increase your impact march on….

7. Earn bragging rights because you learned strategy tips from the FBI!

(Enough said. cool)

6. The Nation's Capital is your playground for two days - take a ten minute walk to the White House from the Press Club, view the monuments after dark (Lincoln is amazing!), or eat like a local at the end of the day.  

Ah, DC in March. *Typically* not a bad time of the year to visit our nation’s capital. The weather begins to perk up from its winter slumber, as the famous cherry blossoms slowly bud, preparing for a showy spring debut. Early March is the calm before the storm, before the tourists arrive in hordes, Metroing their way to the blooming waterfront. Take advantage!

*We regret our inability to predict sunny skies in advance!*

STAY TUNED FOR REASON #5  … and learn more at www.missiondrivensummit.com

Reason #8 to Attend the 2013 Mission-Driven Management Summit

Posted November 13, 2012 9:06 AM by Angie Mareino

Our Top 10 reasons to attend the 2013 Mission-Driven Management Summit continue! May I present reason number eight:

8. Participate in a clinic (offerings for beginners and advanced strategists) and take away tools that you can put to use immediately.

On Day 1 of the Summit (March 5th), we’ll kick off with dueling clinics: A) a beginner’s guide to implementing a strategic performance system into your organization and B) an advanced clinic that delves into the details. Whether you’re in Clinic A or Clinic B, we promise you’ll wrap up the session with knowledge you can put to work immediately! (But we hope you’ll delay for 48 hours and stay for the Summit first!)

CLINIC A: From Vision to Strategy - Make the Balanced Scorecard Method Work for You

This introductory workshop for the Balanced Scorecard methodology will show you how to build and use the BSC in your organization to drive results.

CLINIC B: Countdown to Results - Manage Your Strategy 

This advanced clinic will help organizations instill alignment, reporting, and management processes to become a strategy focused organization.


STAY TUNED FOR REASON #7  … and learn more at www.missiondrivensummit.com


Do you need a checklist for your Balanced Scorecard?

Posted November 9, 2012 1:23 PM by Ted Jackson

If you have met me or spoken to me about the Balanced Scorecard, I’m sure you have heard me say “the Balanced Scorecard is just a framework for managing your strategy.  It should make managing and achieving your strategy easier.  If you are spending more time on the framework than on your strategy, you are not doing something right.”  So, this week, I was finishing the book “American Icon” by Bryce Hoffman, and I came across a passage that reminded me of another book called “The Checklist Manifesto” by Atul Gawande.  So, what do these books and the Balanced Scorecard have in common?  To me, they are both a reminder that you can’t just have a Balanced Scorecard or just have a strategy.  You actually must do something with it in order to achieve your strategic goals.

Let me clarify a little bit.  The Checklist Manifesto is a book about how creating a simple checklist can help you perform really well.  The two primary examples in the book are about flying a plane and performing surgery in a hospital.  If you have a simple checklist, then you will know the other people in the surgery room, be on the same page for the actual operation, and know many of the primary risks that can go wrong.  The American Icon is about how Alan Mulally came into Ford and saved it from the financial crisis when the other two major auto manufacturers in the US had to be bailed out by the government.  Mr. Mulally instituted weekly management reviews with data driven decision making.  So the paragraph from American Icon that brought it all together for me was one where Hoffman was quoting Mulally.

“You’ve got to trust the process.  You need to trust and nurture your emotional resilience,” he said. “Do you have a point of view about the future? Check. Is it still the right vision today? Check.  Do you have a comprehensive plan to deliver that? Check.  If you get skilled and motivated people working together through this process, you’re going to figure it out.  But you’ve got to trust it.”

So when I read that passage, I thought to myself, do you have a strategy map?  Does the map still reflect the strategy of the organization?  Are your measures and initiatives supporting this map?  Have you aligned divisions and departments around the strategy?  Are you having regular strategy review meetings?  Yes, then you have a much better than average chance of achieving your strategy.

It sounds easy, but this quote from Mulally is from when he is 4-5 years into this process.  It takes work to ingrain a process and get people to trust that it will work.  It took the <a href=http://www.ascendantsmg.com/blog/index.cfm/2012/9/24/What-do-Alabama-Football-and-the-Balanced-Scorecard-have-in-Common>Alabama Football</a> team 3 years and now it is executing like clockwork.

As for the checklist, imagine you went into every strategy review meeting with a checklist.  I’m sure you are doing strategy review meetings either monthly or quarterly.  Before the meeting, have you sent out information in advance? Check.  Have you identified the issue? Check. Do you have the right people in the room to make a decision about the issue?  Check. Do you have a process for following up from the decision with both actions and communications? Check.  OK, you are well on your way to executing your strategy.

The Heart of the Matter is Your Mission: Catholic Charities of Boston

Posted November 8, 2012 1:02 PM by Angie Mareino

In baseball’s first modern World Series in 1903, the Boston Americans rallied from a three game deficit to beat out the Pittsburgh Pirates. America was bustling: Henry Ford incorporated his automobile manufacturing company in a Detroit suburb, revolutionizing large-scale assembly, and the Wright brothers piloted their first flight.

Yet as immigrants continued to stream into the United States, the Catholic Archbishop of Boston, John J. Williams, was troubled. All around him he witnessed Boston’s immigrant population—which consisted of mostly Catholics—face horrific social and economic struggles. 

That same year, determined to affect change, Archbishop Williams formed the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston (CCAB) with a simple yet profound goal: provide hope by assisting those in need.

Over 100 years later, CCAB faced modern-day challenges: the organization had become too complex, mired by issues that didn't connect with its core mission. Staff was apathetic; the public, unimpressed, unsure of CCAB's true purpose. In short, CCAB had lost its way.

With fresh leadership in place as the Great Recession dug in its heels, resources were scarce. Catholic Charities’ future success depended on the alignment of the board, the leadership team, and employees in pursuit of its mission to serve Boston's neediest citizens. To guide them, CCAB developed a strategic plan of action to anticipate the road ahead with a big-picture understanding of how to return to greatness. The Balanced Scorecard served as a compass to allow management to holistically evaluate and measure impact. 

In September 2008, the first Balanced Scorecard report was provided to the board of directors. The report included a strategy map with red, yellow, and green indicators that revealed performance versus plan. Further information was provided through quantitative performance data and qualitative performance assessment and recommendations. Board members were so impressed by the initial comprehensive review that they gave management a standing ovation!

During the holiday season of 2009, CCAB was able to increase its food program recipients by 20 percent as over 90 percent of food requests were met. Press mentions, tracked monthly by the Archdiocese, increased, and Catholic Charities was increasingly called upon to serve as a voice and advocate of the neediest in a positive light. By focusing on the “critical few” measures and projects, Catholic Charities positioned itself to do more with less as it embodied its core mission. We think Archbishop Williams would be proud.


  1. The Board aligned with leadership, which strengthened the agency
  2. Successes and challenges were communicated and monitored
  3. Middle management had a framework to align their activities with the strategy
  4. Because resources were better allocated, programs were set up for success
  5. Charities established a protocol for interfacing with the press to highlight the plight of Massachusetts’ poor
  6. A clear strategy and measures of effectiveness in achieving that strategy became the cornerstone of large donor acquisition
  7. Hard benefits became apparent about 18 months after the Balanced Scorecard implementation (sales and ROI increased significantly)

Catholic Charities for the Archdiocese of Boston was inducted into the 2012 Balanced Scorecard Hall of Fame for Executing Strategy on Tuesday, October 16th, during Palladium’s Global Summit for Executing Strategy in Boston. Read our press release for more information. 

Counting Down to the Summit: Reason #9 to Attend

Posted November 8, 2012 10:44 AM by Angie Mareino

Without further ado, our countdown continues… 


Stroll the halls of the prestigious National Press Club during breaks.

The Mission-Driven Management Summit is held at The National Press Club, known as “the place where news happens.” You never know who you’ll bump into in the elevator, and you can “name that face” as you wander the hallways lined with photos of the Club’s famous and influential guests. We think that’s a lot more fun than studying the exposed ductwork of yet another look-alike, cavernous convention center.

Eventbrite - Mission-Driven Management Summit

STAY TUNED FOR REASON #8  … and learn more at www.missiondrivensummit.com

New Talking Points: Birds, Worms, Strategy

Posted November 7, 2012 10:46 AM by Angie Mareino

The election is (finally!) over, and we have just the thing to fill the void. (What’s that you say? You’re perfectly content with the sound of silence for the next month, at least?)


Each year, we host a conference* for strategy and performance managers across the social and public sector. We host a slew of presenters and keynote speakers that you’ll be pleased to meet, listen to, and learn from. Not to mention, ASMG will moderate and host workshops that serve to build your skills in alignment, visioning, goal setting and milestones, and more. It’s the kind of focused event that you’ll walk away from with news you can actually USE.

We’re pretty proud of our Summit, because we make sure our speakers know their stuff, practice what they preach, and present ideas that relate toward your mission-driven organization. In other words, at the Mission-Driven Management Summit, it's here’s to you.

That’s why I URGE YOU to check out our website with the full agenda and details, and sign up before November 16th–THAT’S 10 DAYS—to take advantage of can’t-beat, early bird pricing. And, with that in mind, over the next ten days I will count down with you, listing our top ten reasons the strategy Summit is the kind of event you’ll want to talk about (to your coworkers, your boss, your network….).


Meet fellow strategists and performance managers across the Mission-Driven sector (school districts, municipalities, nonprofits, federal government, and NGOs) and expand your network while learning how others manage strategy and performance.


Eventbrite - Mission-Driven Management Summit STAY TUNED FOR REASON #9 TOMORROW… and learn more at www.missiondrivensummit.com

* (and no, not one of those giant, tradeshow-style conferences, but a small, focused, two-day event that’s centered on content, not vendors)