Leading within Organizational Change with Nancy Murphy

Over the next two weeks at the Nonprofit Build Up, Nic is talking with Nancy Murphy, Founder and President of CSR Communications on “ Leading within Organizational Change”. Nancy has designed and implemented sustainability, community engagement, and philanthropic strategies for companies such as UPS and Johnson Controls, and nonprofit organizations, including W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Nancy will be sharing insights on leading, supporting, strategizing, and re-energizing big change initiatives, especially given the current climate. You won’t want to miss it.


Listen to Part 1:

Listen to Part 2:


About Nancy Murphy:

Nancy’s spent her career saying what others are afraid to – and learning to say it in ways that others will listen. She’s the founder and president of CSR Communications and creator of Intrapreneurs Influence Lab. Her passion is teaching leaders how to make organizational change stick.

From challenging stereotypes of girls in her Catholic school more than 40 years ago, to her first job after college convincing nonprofits to engage youth volunteers, or her role as board chair of a global nonprofit transforming the way we do international development…

…She’s experienced the challenges of leading big change within established organizations.

And she’s willing to share all the mistakes she made – and all the solutions she discovered – so that you don’t have to learn them the hard way.

Nancy’s worked in philanthropy for Steve and Jean Case’s family foundation, as a federal government program officer with the Corporation for National & Community Service, and as a global consultant for APCO Worldwide, where she designed and implemented sustainability, community engagement and philanthropic strategies for companies such as UPS and Johnson Controls, and nonprofit organizations including W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Annie E. Casey Foundation. Nancy mentors and advises executives from local governments, federal agencies, global nonprofits, foundations and Fortune 100 companies.

As a trainer and speaker, Nancy has shared her expertise from Kuala Lumpur to Kansas City and London to Las
Vegas. She holds a master’s degree in public affairs from University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School, a
master’s in health communication from Boston University, and a bachelor’s degree in American Studies from
University of Dayton.

Read the podcast transcription below:

Part One

-Upbeat Intro Music-

Nic Campbell: You’re listening to the Nonprofit Build Up podcast, and I’m your host, Nic Campbell. I want to support movements that can interrupt cycles of injustice and inequity, and shift power towards vulnerable and marginalized communities. I’ve spent years working in and with nonprofits and philanthropies, and I know how important infrastructure is to outcomes. On this show, we’ll talk about how to build capacity to transform the way you and your organization work.

Stef Wong: Hi, everyone. It’s Stef, Build Up’s Executive Portfolio Liaison. This week on the Nonprofit Build Up is part one of a two-part discussion between Build Up’s Founder and CEO, Nic, and Founder and President of CSR Communications, Nancy Murphy. Nancy’s experience designing and implementing sustainability, community engagement, and philanthropic strategies has made her well-versed in navigating the challenges of leading big change within established organizations. In this episode, Nancy will be sharing insights on leading, supporting, strategizing, and reenergizing big change initiatives, especially given the current climate. You won’t want to miss it. And with that, here’s part one of leading with an organizational change with Nancy Murphy.

Nic Campbell: Hi, Nancy. Welcome to the Nonprofit Build Up. 

Nancy Murphy: Hi, Nicole. Great to be here. 

Nic Campbell: So I’m really looking forward to our conversation. To get us started, can you tell us about CSR Communications, your role there, and CSR Communications’ immediate priority, particularly given where we find ourselves today? 

Nancy Murphy: Yeah. Well, thank you for that invitation. So I am the Founder and CEO of CSR Communications and creator of the Intrapreneurs Influence Lab. So that’s really designed to support those folks who are driving change from within organizations, and we specialize in the human psychology that makes organizational change possible because we know that organizational change is often necessary for social purpose organizations to realize, achieve their next big initiative to rapidly expand their impact. So we really specialize in getting change leaders the skills they need to lead that change effectively, and that’s our immediate priority right now, given what’s going on in the world, right? How much change we’re all reacting to because it’s being thrust upon us, and how much change we’re proactively driving because of the sense of urgency of things that need to change in the world. So our immediate priority is how do we get more intrapreneurs, more change leaders the skills they need to deal with the change coming at them and that they’re driving right now.

Nic Campbell: I really love the term intrapreneurs, and I’d love to hear more about how you are working with organizations and, in particular, intrapreneurs to manage the change that they’re encountering, as they do their work. I mean, the environment that we’re in, there’s so much happening, and a lot of organizations have had to change strategy, adapted. So I’d love to just hear a little bit more about how you’re showing up to work with these organizations. 

Nancy Murphy: Yeah. Well, you just mentioned strategy. So that’s one way is we support leaders and teams, as they’re designing and implementing those strategic leaps inside their organization. So what is the strategy that’s going to drive the next big initiative or that’s going to enable them to shift and adapt in this shifting and changing environment? 

Nancy Murphy: We also do a lot around change leadership. So I personally do not like the term change management because it assumes that change is a logical, linear predictable thing. If we just have the right Gantt charts and checklists that it’s all going to go just as planned, right? Organizations are made up of people, and humans are messy beings. They’re emotional beings. That’s why we talk about specializing in the human psychology that makes organizational change possible. 

Nancy Murphy: We do a lot around re-energizing change journeys, how to lead change effectively. That’s a big part of what our Intrapreneurs Influence Lab is all about, equipping leaders with the skills, tools, and techniques to deal with the human psychology that makes organizational change hard, overcome resistance to change, and have a reenergizing change journey versus a de-energizing one that sort of leads to that change revolt, eventually, from fatigue, to exhaustion, to revolt. 

Nancy Murphy: We also do a lot with communication, message development, communication strategy internally and externally, and then, of course, board development because boards are a big part of whether change is even imagined inside organizations and whether change succeeds or fails inside our organizations. 

Nic Campbell: I like how you have described change as being nonlinear and a journey, which really resonates because it is not linear at all. You can’t plan for it in many ways, and you do have to make sure that you are supporting leaders, as they move through changes in their strategy, changes in their operations, and how that sort of works throughout the organization. 

Nic Campbell: When you talk about reenergizing a change journey, I love that phrasing. Can you speak a little bit more about how you go about reenergizing a change journey and what that looks like? 

Nancy Murphy: Yeah. So this will probably sound familiar to many people. If you are the leader of change inside an organization, if this is kind of your vision, and maybe you’ve been thinking about it for a long time before you’ve shared it externally, and it’s kind of all mapped out in your head, and you totally understand it, and you’ve been sitting with it for a while, or whether there’s some change coming at you that you have to implement. So COVID protocols or whatever it might be. That when we put something out there for the first time, that moment we describe as changed curiosity for the folks who are hearing this for the first time.

Nancy Murphy: A big part of being able to move forward, to change the behavior, or do things differently that our leaders are asking of us is to be able to make meaning of it for ourselves, right? So how do we do that? We ask questions. We try to learn more. We’re trying to understand. What does it mean for me? Well, did you think about this? Did you consider the implication here? So that moment of changed curiosity is really important. 

Nancy Murphy: But what we do as leaders most of the time is we get kind of frustrated. Well, just get on board. Why are you asking this question? Don’t you understand? It’s all super clear in my head, right? Or it’s our baby, and we get defensive when people start asking questions. So at that moment, the way we respond or typically react to the changed curiosity is to shut it down. We dismiss it. We suppress it. We misunderstand it. We think people are not capable of making the change, or they’re against change, or they’re naysayers, or we think it’ll just go away. When we do that, that’s where people start to get the change fatigue, the change exhaustion, and eventually change revolt because leaders don’t react appropriately. 

Nancy Murphy: What we do is help people understand that resistance is a gift. What is this teaching us? What blind spots is it illuminating? How are people using these questions to make meaning and understand it? Then when we give people the tools and techniques to embrace that resistance and to use it to make the ideas stronger and better, then we can move instead into changed readiness, changed resourcefulness, and changed harmony, instead of devolving into that revolt. 

Nancy Murphy: In addition to understanding the psychological triggers that make change hard, what are the common types of resistance, and what’s really underneath them, and how do we overcome them? A big part of the work we do with change leaders is teaching them to operate a little bit more like Indiana Jones. What do I mean by that? I mean, go on an archeological dig to find what we at CSR Communications call artifacts. 

Nancy Murphy: So all the little things we leave behind when we move forward with change, that tell us who and what we value, what matters, and how things really get done around here. Oftentimes, those conflict with the change we want. Again, what leads to a de energizing change journey, well, little things that we’ve left behind that send signals that maybe we’re not serious about the change. Maybe the change isn’t real, so it erodes trust inside our organizations. Well, you’re saying one thing, but all these little signals I’m getting over here are telling me something different. Or what else leads to fatigue, exhaustion, and revolt, making it harder to do the things you’re asking me to do. 

Nancy Murphy: There’s too much friction, right? Well, why? Because we have systems and processes, artifacts that were left behind, that are aligned with the old ways of thinking and working and doing. So you’re making it really, really hard for me to do the thing you’ve now asked me to do. Again, that leads to fatigue, exhaustion, and revolt. So we’ve got to unearth those artifacts. We’ve got to identify them, first of all. Unearth them. Replace them with ones that are aligned with the change so that we don’t get that de-energizing change journey. 

Nic Campbell: That all makes really good sense. I think one of the things that you said really resonated with me and stuck out, which was leadership’s response and reaction to that change curiosity. So when I think about that, I think about different stakeholders within the process, and I wonder if there is a group of stakeholders that you focus on more than others. 

Nic Campbell: For example, we started this conversation talking about intrapreneurs because you’re saying that you do a lot of work with intrapreneurs. They’re driving the change from within. But I think about other stakeholders within the organization that may not be intrapreneurs. But they’re still part of making sure that the organization advances its mission. 

Nic Campbell: When you think about this change journey and leadership’s response and reaction to change curiosity, how do you decide? Or do you decide on focusing on a group of stakeholders? Is it the intrapreneurs? Is it the folks who are not intrapreneurs, and there’s really skeptical about what’s happening? Where do you spend your energy, and how do you make that determination? 

Nancy Murphy: Yeah. Let me go to a short answer first, and then I’ll go to a little bit longer answer about the process. So one of the mistakes I think most intrapreneurs, most change leaders make is – This kind of goes back to it being, “Oh, but this is my baby. I’m so excited about it. This is my brilliant idea.” We don’t like for anyone not to be on board, right? 

Nancy Murphy: If we think about the diffusion of innovation curve that some of your listeners might be familiar with, it’s used in technology a lot where we have the innovators, the early adopters, right? The early majority, the late majority, and the laggards. It’s sort of that curve of who is most open to or embracing of change. You’ve got those innovators, the disruptors who are driving it. Then you’ve got all the way down to the laggards. 

Nancy Murphy: I see so many leaders focus on the laggards first or the late majorities. Like they’ve just got to get everybody. As soon as that one person in a town hall meeting is really dragging their feet and really – It’s almost like, well, now we’ve got to convince that person, and we’re spending all of our energy on the person or the group of people who are the least likely to embrace the change first. We miss all the energy earlier on in the curve, right? Where those folks would help carry the water of the persuasion and influence. 

Nancy Murphy: I don’t think it’s helpful to try to convince people. We can almost never convince people, right? So how do we just create an environment of excitement and energy around the change, and eventually those laggards will get on board? Or there will be consequences for them not, or they’ll just self-select out, right? That’s a huge mistake people make is like going straight to that hardest group to get on board and starting with them. 

Nancy Murphy: What I would say in terms of a little bit longer answer is we have several different kind of layers of stakeholder mapping that we do with leaders inside organizations to think about where’s informal power inside the organization, right? There’s formal authority, but there’s also informal power and authority. We want to understand the psychographics behind different stakeholders, either inside our organization or partners and external stakeholders as well. 

Nancy Murphy: So not just are you a funder? Are you a staff member? Are you a board member? Kind of the demographics, if you will, or the roles, but also understanding how open are different folks to change? Where are the power centers inside our organizations? What’s going to drive different groups of people? Then where do we start, right? Who needs to be on board first? Who are our champions who can help carry the water? 

Nancy Murphy: There’s a fairly sophisticated stakeholder mapping process with lots of different layers that we go through, and that helps us decide what makes sense as a starting point for you inside your organization with this change at this moment in time. But I would say, generally, let’s not make the mistake of going to the hardest people to get on board first and spending all of our time and energy there while missing out on the enthusiasm and energy that’s probably present and we’re missing out on. 

Nic Campbell: Right. Because you want to make sure that you can continue to build on that and have those folks also be ambassadors of the change that’s been introduced. So I’m thinking about, and you mentioned them earlier, board members are very key stakeholder in this process. How do you work with boards to make sure that they are involved enough, but they’re not getting into the day to day of the organization’s operations? But they’re maintaining their oversight and accountability of the organization, and they’re helping to carry forward change in a good way. Do you approach that group differently than you’re approaching staff within the organization? Or are there just common principles that you follow? 

Nic Campbell: I guess there are certainly common principles in terms of understanding the drivers for folks and how they will perceive and respond to change. So the specific dreams, desires, fears, anxieties, motivations might be different for board members or individual board members than for staff or individual staff or staff at different levels of leadership and authority within the organization. But understanding those drivers is a core principle, understanding the psychological triggers that make change hard and how they’re playing out at the board. They may play out differently at a board level than they would at a staff level, but the triggers are still the same. 

Nic Campbell: The one thing that’s kind of fascinating me recently when it comes to boards and change, particularly in this environment we’re in right now, where I’m getting very excited about moonshot opportunities, right? Like just given how much is shaking up in the world right now, there’s a huge opportunity to solve problems that impact millions of people for good, if we’re willing to dream and to take the risk. 

Nic Campbell: I was just listening to some of your earlier episodes where folks were talking a lot about risk, and it reminded me of this challenge I think we have around are we actually going to leap and make a radical solution to solve the problem for good to end the problem for good? Because what happens when we do? Does that mean our organization goes away? I think this is a real tension we don’t have enough conversations about in the nonprofit sector. 

Nic Campbell: As a previous board chair and a current board member, I’ve served on lots of nonprofit boards. We have a fiduciary duty to protect and preserve the organization. As a result, I think sometimes boards are afraid to solve the problem for good because what does that mean for the organization? Or is pursuing that radical solution putting the organization at too much risk because it’s disruptive by nature, right? Most of our social sector is kind of designed to tweak around the edges and make some incremental changes. 

Nic Campbell: Last year, we fed 3,000 hungry kids. This year, we hope to feed 3,500 hungry kids. Is that the conversation we should be having? But I think that, again, that’s the tension for boards, right? Like we believe in the vision and the mission, but our fiduciary duty is to protect and preserve the organization, which is kind of a status quo mindset. So I’m really excited about like having more conversations about what is the role of boards in some of these moonshot leaps, these really next big initiatives that could end some of these problems for good.

Nic Campbell: I agree with that. I think that having that initial conversation as an organization about risk, defining it, what do we mean when we say things are radical, things are risky, and just teasing that out because if you look within boards at each board member’s definition of risk, it might vary, right? It might even differ from the organization’s approach to risk and its own risk appetite. 

Nic Campbell: So I completely agree. Just starting that conversation around where are we trying to go, what do we mean when we say risk, and what does it means something is risky, and how do we move forward? Because at the end of the day, we’re talking about moonshots, we’re talking about nonprofits, and we’re in that space of risk, so it’s inherent. So how do you go along that change journey of exploring like how do you get from point A to B? That’s all really good points around engaging with boards. 

Stef Wong: That concludes part one of the series. Next week, Nic and Nancy will go in more depth regarding leading with an organizational change. Additionally, if you want to build a stronger board structure, make your grant process more responsive, and transform your organization to work more efficiently, then schedule a discovery call with a Build Up Advisory Group. The Build Up Advisory Group strives to be brave enough to truly be risk takers, be creative in ways others are afraid to be, and approach philanthropy with a unique and fresh perspective. We would love to hear more about your brave mission to change the world.

-Upbeat Outro Music-

Nic Campbell: Thank you for listening to this episode of Nonprofit Build Up. To access the show notes, additional resources, and information on how you can work with us, please visit our website at buildupadvisory.com. We invite you to listen again next week, as we share another episode about scaling impact by building infrastructure and capacity in the nonprofit sector. Keep building bravely.

Part Two

-Upbeat Intro Music-

Nic Campbell: You’re listening to the nonprofit buildup podcast. And I’m your host, Nic Campbell. I want to support movements that can interrupt cycles of injustice and inequity and shift power towards vulnerable and marginalized communities. I’ve spent years working in and with nonprofits and philanthropies, and I know how important infrastructure is to outcomes. On this show, we’ll talk about how to build capacity to transform the way you and your organization work.

Stef Wong: Hi, everyone, it’s Stef, Buildup’s Executive Portfolio Liaison. This week on the Nonprofit Build Up is part two of a two-part discussion between Buildup’s founder and CEO, Nic Campbell; and founder and President of CSR communications, Nancy Murphy. You can jump back to part one of this conversation to learn more about leading within organizational change. But with that, let’s dive into the second part of Nic and Nancy’s discussion, where Nancy continues sharing insights on leading, supporting, strategizing and reenergizing big change initiatives, especially given the current climate.

Nancy Murphy: We talked a lot about the change journey, how leadership can respond to that initial change curiosity, the roles of different stakeholders within the organizations. When you think about the nonprofit sector and all that you know about change and strategy, what do you think that we should be doing more of as a sector? And what do you think we should be doing less of?

Nic Campbell: I definitely think we should be doing more dreaming. I think as a sector, we’ve forgotten how to dream, right? Either because we’re all so overwhelmed with the crises of the hour, and trying to serve more and more people and meet bigger and bigger needs with ever tightening budgets. Now facing staff shortages, just like every other organization, but feeling like, “Well, we can’t pay the compensation.” And we think that a truss.

Nic Campbell: We get super locked into this what’s immediately in front of me that is urgent, and thinking of incremental progress and tweaking around the edges. But I think we miss the moment to imagine a world where the problem that we’re solving, the issue we’re addressing, no longer exists. And so, I wish we would do more dreaming. 

Nic Campbell: What do I wish we would do less of? Probably staying in our bubbles. Right? I, a couple of months ago, spent a few days in New York at the Wall Street Journal’s Future of Everything Festival. And that was definitely out of my bubble and out of my comfort zone. And I will tell you, it blew my mind in so many good ways. And it really got me thinking about what is possible in the world that I thought before the middle of May was impossible and what will be possible in the very near future. 

Nic Campbell: And I think when we spend all of our time having conversations with folks who are in our industry, or in our sector, or who already agree with the way we framed the problem, or their challenge, or who are so absorbed in whatever our cause or issue is that we can speak in shorthand and acronyms and all of that. And I really wish we would do less of that, because we all need our minds blown a little bit more frequently.

Nancy Murphy: I like that a lot. Because we talk a lot about an ecosystem approach for nonprofits. And when we think about how organizations operate, it’s less of a singular vehicle. And it’s more of how do different types of organizations and leaders work together towards a common goal. This idea of stepping out of bubbles, stepping out of your silos, I think really just plays really nicely into that, which makes a lot of sense. 

Nancy Murphy: I want to talk a little bit more about dreaming. I think that word is intriguing. Talk to me about how you would position folks who are working with historically marginalized and vulnerable communities who are really in a place where all of us actually are facing systems that are just inherently inequitable. We feel like there is a very uphill sort of journey that has to happen. And at every turn, there’s something else that’s coming up that’s really proving how inequitable the system is. 

Nancy Murphy: To go to organizations that are working with communities that are really just trying to, at this point, keep their heads above water, just within the system itself, how do you frame that to say let’s do more dreaming at this point in a way that then resonates with that organization and resonates in the work that they’re doing with those communities?

Nic Campbell: Well, I think first of all, let’s not pretend that that work is easy. And that it’s the environment and the context that most leaders operate in and most communities live in is not very dream friendly. I don’t want to pretend that this is easy, and that this work isn’t frustrating, and demotivating, and all of that. Because, of course, it is. 

Nic Campbell: At the same time, what I’ve kept coming back to the last few years is a quote from one of my favorite, guided meditations. And I’m forgetting exactly who the person in the guided meditation is quoting right now. But it’s about when we’re committed to change, that we commit not to fighting the old, but to building the new. And that’s what speaks to me. Because we can spend tons of energy fighting the old. But I am a firm believer that the old – There are so many cracks in the foundation, the oldest crumbling away. And if we don’t build the new, if we’re not dreaming about what could be possible, then someone else is going to build the new that’s not going to be the new we want, right? Or the old will crumble, and there will be nothing in its place. 

Nic Campbell: I think the frustration comes when we’re fighting the old and we feel like, again, we’re sort of convincing those laggards that are holding on to the status quo for dear life. And it’s very freeing, I think, to just say, “You’re going away.” What I’m going to do instead is dream and build the new so that if we together can create a vision of what’s possible, if we can actually imagine a future that’s better than what we have now, then we can start to paint that picture and others are going to want to come along. 

Nic Campbell: I sort of feel like it’s a freeing experience to just say whatever the crap is that’s kind of coming at me every day, I accept that it’s here and that it’s hard. But I want to build the new. So, how do I carve out the space to dream and to have those imagination conversations with people who share my values and will help me create the new?

Nancy Murphy: Yeah, it’s like a both an, right? Where you are dealing with the inequities, the issues that are coming up today and knowing that you have to address them and you have to fight back, so to speak. 

Nancy Murphy: And then also, stepping into leadership, really, and saying, “I am designing this new world, the new possibility, the new vision, the new system, in which we will all operate.” And its leadership in the way I’m seeing it from what you describe, because you’re telling your own story. And you’re recreating it in a way that’s outside of the current system and you’re stepping into that in a very unique way. I like that approach. And I like the word dream, because I think it’s just not a word that we use a lot in the sector. And I think it’s very inspirational to say you get to step into a new type of leadership, actually.

Nic Campbell: well. And let’s think about the people who really have the lived experience of inequity, and marginalization, and discrimination, and structural racism, and ableism, and ageism, and all the things. Most people don’t get through the day without dreaming, right? I think we can learn – Those of us who have more privilege can learn dreaming from people who the only space that they could create that was a positive life many times was in their dreams. 

Nic Campbell: And so, by dreaming that something better was possible, not everyone, unfortunately, is sable to manifest that in their lifetimes. But I think that how did we come out of slavery? When you talk to women in some countries around the world who are still considered property, and they have to dream that there is something better that’s possible. And I think we can learn to dream by having more conversations and learning more from people who spend more of their lives in marginalized, inequitable, discriminatory situations.

Nancy Murphy: Right, and seeing that dreaming is actually a critical part of change.

Nic Campbell: It’s where we reclaim power and agency, right? In our dreams. If we can imagine a future where I have power and you don’t, or whatever, that’s a way to reclaim agency and to reclaim our power. I think there’s a lot of power in dreaming and an imagination.

Nancy Murphy: Right. And if we think about funders and nonprofit organizations that are seeking funding, so they’re their grantees of other funders, other organizations. When we think about how do we support this dreaming, right? Because we are talking about dreaming as a critical part of change. And so, we’re there. But then the additional work steps in where it’s like, “Okay, now we’re going to take this dream and make it a reality, right? And we’re going to talk about implementation and how we take this forward. What role can funders play? What role can nonprofits play in all of this?

Nic Campbell: Well, let’s start with funders. What creates the imagination deficit in nonprofits? Well, oftentimes, it’s the funding practices, requirements, restrictions that lead to an imagination deficit in our nonprofits. 

Nic Campbell: So how can funders help? Well, I mentioned to you earlier, I used to work for grant makers for effective organizations, a big part of what GO is about is encouraging funders to give general operating support. How do we have resources that we trust – This goes back to the power dynamic. We trust the leadership of the nonprofit organization to decide how best to use resources at their disposal to meet their mission? To meet the needs of the people or the communities they serve? 

Nic Campbell: If there’s less chasing and trying to fit things in, and well, we can only do programmatic. Well, that just creates an environment where dreaming and imagination is less possible. How do we have the type of trust-based funding that enables leaders to operate in a way that opens up space for dreaming? I think that’s a big one. 

Nic Campbell: When I was at Cayce Foundation, we used to talk a lot about proposals that – And I think this is what the funding community creates. This dynamic of, we would get a proposal, and the first 10 pages would be all about how bad the problem is, all of the data, all the stories. It’s such a horrible thing. And we’ve been doing this work for 75 years, and we want you to give us more money to do that. 

Nic Campbell: And we would look at this and be like, “Well, you’ve been doing this for 75 years. And the problem seems worse than it was when you started.” And maybe that’s actually not the case exactly, right? But it’s like, as funders, we sort of want to fund the greatest need. We encourage nonprofits to focus on how bad the problem is, and how big the problem is, and how persistent the problem is. Versus here’s what the world could look like and will look like if you invest in us. Because this is what we’re building, as opposed to highlighting. Because that sort of creates this weird mindset. It kind of triggers things in our brains have this deficit and scarcity. 

Nic Campbell: And so, I think that gets in the way of dreaming. How do we help create abundance mindset from a funder perspective? What can nonprofits do? Well, I think part of it is how do we get out of the Groundhog Day mentality of it’s like crisis of the hour over and over and over again? And we never carve out time for strategic thinking. 

Nic Campbell: We continue to add more and more programs and initiatives. And we never do the Marie Kondo of our strategy where we sort of look at things we’ve been doing and thank them for their service and how they contributed to our mission, but then we let them go. Right? When are we calling programs and initiatives so that we’re not just piling things on top, but we’re creating that space? 

Nic Campbell: And then how do we invite people to get creative? To get innovative? To really dream? We need to sort of break the pattern. Right? So how do we do the pattern interrupt? How do we convene meetings differently? How do we trick our brains into opening up new areas and seeing beyond the thing that’s right in front of us? There are lots of tools and techniques for that. But as nonprofits, we not only have to create the time, we also have to be open to trying some of those and really having that experimenter’s mindset.

Nancy Murphy: Right. And seeing innovation from the existing programs strategy that you might have, because you’re calling those things and looking for opportunities as well. So, I really liked that. And with the funders, you had me at general operating support. I say this all the time. I completely agree with you about the imagination deficit. That’s really what it creates. And this idea of giving very limited non-flexible funding. Compared to just saying, “Here, I believe in your mission. I want to invest in it. Show us what you plan to do.” Right? I think that’s a very different approach. And it does encourage dreaming, and imagination, and innovation. I think that’s a great advice for both. 

Nancy Murphy: Nancy, I could literally talk to you for hours about this topic, because your responses have been so thoughtful and insightful, and really helping us think about change in a different way. And I want to ask you a question that I ask all of our guests to help us continue to build knowledge through books and people we should learn from or about to close this out. What book do you think we should read next? Or what artist do you think we should be paying attention to?

Nic Campbell: Well, I’m going to suggest a book and an organization. I’m in the middle of about six books right now. This is one of my bad habits. It’s always really hard for me to just recommend one. But given what we’ve been talking about today, I’m going to recommend Imagination Gap by Brian Reich. Because when I, about six months ago, started like really digging into this imagination deficit, I started Googling around and I found this book. And I was like, “How did I not know about this book?” I think it’s a great tool for anyone who’s intrigued by this imagination idea. Imagination Gap is the book. 

Nic Campbell: Two, build on this idea of getting out of our own bubbles and having our minds blown, I’m going to recommend an organization called Grow Your Own Cloud. Just because the idea is so wild. Apparently, we can now store our data on the DNA of a plant. Think about that for a moment. And if that is possible, let’s imagine what else might be possible. Check out Grow Your Own Cloud. I learned about them at the Future of Everything Festival. And I love what they’re doing, because it blows my mind. 

Nancy Murphy: Well, thank you so much for both of these suggestions. We’ll put them in the show notes so that listeners have access to them as well. 

Nancy Murphy: Nancy, you have shared such tremendous knowledge and insights that I think that leaders will be able to use to build out their own organizations, embrace change, think about change a little bit differently, even how they approach different stakeholders within their organization. I also liked just this idea of dreaming. I really like the word itself. Again, I just don’t think we use it enough in the sector. And really seeing dreaming as a critical component of change and an ability for leaders to really step into the work that they’re doing. I just want to thank you for your time today and for helping leaders be able to use that information to help them build bravely. Thank you again so much for joining us.

Nic Campbell: Thank you, Nicole. This was a really fun conversation.

Stef Wong: And that completes this two part series on leading within organizational change with Nic Campbell and Nancy Murphy. Additionally, if you want to build a stronger board structure, make your grant process more responsive and transform your organization to work more efficiently, then schedule discovery call with the Buildup Advisory Group. The Buildup Advisory Group strives to be brave enough to truly be risk takers, be creative in ways others are afraid to be, and approach philanthropy with a unique and fresh perspective. We would love to hear more about your brave mission to change the world.

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Nic Campbell: Thank you for listening to this episode of Nonprofit Buildup. To access the show notes, additional resources and information on how you can work with us, please visit our website at buildupadvisory.com We invite you to listen again next week as we share another episode about scaling impact by building infrastructure and capacity in the nonprofit sector. Keep building bravely.