I was honored to engage with Australia’s social sector as a keynote speaker for the 2014 Think Outcomes conference. My cornerstone argument: To achieve outcomes, we need to breathe outcomes. We need the mindset and culture to shift action and for that, we need to re-program ourselves toward a theory of contribution. Read more on my blog. The content remains relevant - try it at your next conference!
In an inspiring series of discussions with both the director and lead educational consultant for my son’s pre-school, I started to hone in on a new approach to my work with nonprofits. It focuses on the balance among continual learning, iterative feedback loops, reflective time, innovation and a rigorous use of evidence.
With my renewed energy, I am collaborating with a brilliant group of associates and colleagues across the globe based on my personal networks and through my involvement in the Leap Ambassadors, a brain trust of leaders working to define and implement high performance for social programs.
Meaning of my new Logo
Several people have inquired about my new logo design, so here is insight on the meaning…
My bridge logo harkens back to many years ago, when I was invited to speak at Harvard for a group of performing art centers executives. I remember feeling quite intimidated after a full morning of listening to leading business school professors explain the intricacies of complex performance management theories. I sat there, knowing that I would need to present my rather simple tools afterward, feeling out of my league! How could I possibly share anything of value after the sheer brain-power we had all just experienced? I was horrified. The room felt numb, drained of all interaction. I thought we were all shocked by the brilliance.
Then, everything shifted. The professors left, presumably back to their classrooms, and I started to hear disquieted mumbles from the sharp executives in the room. Their lead consultant summarized: “We’re pretty sure that we just experienced some truly important information and teachings. Unfortunately, we have no idea how to move them into practice!” At that point, the facilitator invited me to the front of the room. Yikes!
After I started to speak, I was pleased to see and feel the energy rise in the room. As I unveiled my approach, color returned to participant’s faces and body language showed clear engagement. I realized then, over 10 years ago and I am actualizing now, my calling: to serve as a bridge from research – often academic – to practice, translating “scientific evidence” to the potential for implementing innovation to achieve life changes for the target populations we care most about.
After a decade running The Center for What Works, a national nonprofit providing research, training, and consulting around outcome management, I chose to start DBN & Associates, L3C as it provides the best opportunity to continue my impact on the social sector.
With time and space to reflect on both my prior accomplishments and future interests, I gained clarity toward three goals:
1. To continue on my current trajectory, partnering with ready nonprofit leaders and social entrepreneurs to implement outcome management toward becoming high performing;
2. To forge toward a vision for the sector more broadly – partnering with research efforts and practical approaches to make shared measurement and collective impact possible;
3. To be more available and more present for my family.
Through DBN & Associates, a social purpose consultancy, I am actualizing all three of my goals. I am working with several inspiring new clients, including several in Chicago and a few distant ones that I can manage mostly via the web. I am consulting with a top-notch think tank in DC. And I’ve been able to be home with my boys to help with homework, teach the younger ones to ride bikes, and re-calibrate my work-life balance.
I am excited to co-create innovative work in partnership with respected clients, colleagues, mentors and associates.
What you can Expect from me and DBN & Associates, L3C
As a consultant and professional advisor, I pride myself on being well versed in the trends and research regarding social sector management and results and then having the emotional intelligence to translate that research into client success. I use a systems design approach to connect vision, mission and outcomes for clients and then guide them on the best route to implementation. DBN & Associates balances clients' desired outcomes with realistic operations, facilitating social programs and collective initiatives to achieve the best results possible with and for their target populations.
Vision: Social change is defined in terms of client outcomes, rather than well-intentioned programs and activities.
Mission: DBN partners with mission-driven leaders to effectively manage for client results. DBN leads social sector organizations toward high performance by sharing extensive expertise and tools to reflect, learn, change and continually improve.
I look forward to sharing my learning, contributing to effectiveness and moving the needle on social issues!
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Debra B. Natenshon
National Outcome Management expert, interested in sharing, learning and collaborating for better social outcomes.
I've known and worked with Debra for over 15 years and this blog series is worth reading and bookmarking. #NPStrong