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Sunday, 15 April 2018

My Latest Article on Planned Organisational Change Management

My latest article entitled "Planned organisational change management: Forward to the Past? An exploratory literature review" was recently published in the Journal of Organizational Change Management.

The article can be viewed by going to my website at the following URL -

Would be interested to hear your views on the material contained in this article.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Risk Management Frameworks for Nonprofit Organisations - Maximising the success of their implementation

Standards Australia has been quite active in its delivery of resources to the nonprofit sector, regarding the management and communication of risk. 2010 saw the release of HB 266:2010 entitled “Guide for managing risk in not-for-profit organizations”. This was supported by HB 327:2010 entitled “Communicating and consulting about risk”. Both publications came off the back of AS/NZS ISO 3100:2009 entitled “Risk management - Principles and guidelines”.

Together, these publications focused on the core application areas of risk management, namely the principles for managing risks, the framework within which these operated, and the process that underpinned them. Communication was recognised as the key to successfully implementing a risk aware culture within the organisation, as part of the delivery of an effective risk management framework.

The message in these pronouncements is quite clear. There are a broad range of risk principles that your organisation needs to consider in order for risk to be understood in the broadest possible way. These principles need to be contextualised within a consolidated framework that must be well considered, well developed, and well understood. In order for such a framework to be effective, it must be supported by a process that caters for the identification, assessment, and treatment of risk. Additionally, this process must be supported by an effective and consistent communication methodology. Finally, and a very important point to consider when deciding on how to approach the design and implementation of a Risk Management Framework, is its workability. In other words, failure will be determined, in part, by the way staff within your organisation view the Framework and how they work with it and within it. Three key rules that I always say are a prerequisite for success in this area are: 
  1.  SEAMLESNESS - The processes surrounding the Framework must be seamless. Staff must see it as merely another part of their day-to-day activities, rather than seen as yet ‘something else that needs to be done’; 
  2.  TRANSPARENCY - The Framework must support transparency. Information captured within it must be largely available to all staff. The only caveat here may relate to a range of strategic risks, and 
  3.  COMMUNICATION – Internal communications supporting the workings of the Framework must be effective and timely, ensuring confidence in the processes is maximised

This integrated approach to risk management should be the focus for your nonprofit when considering and assessing risk. In the context of nonprofit organisations, a wide range of risk categories combine to form an overall picture of the risk environment within which nonprofits operate. These can best be summarised in the following manner: 
  • Asset risk – which relates to the ongoing management and maintenance of the organisation’s physical assets including buildings and equipment used by employees, volunteers, contractors, and clients; 
  • Compliance risk – which relates to the external regulatory framework that the organisation operates within as well as the internal policies and procedures that are in place to govern behaviours of its internal stakeholders; 
  • Environment risk – which relates to the management and sustainability of the built and natural environment that the organisation works within, and, from which services are delivered; 
  • Financial risk – which relates to the operation, management and development of the financial frameworks within which the organisation operates in, and supported by its internal financial policies and procedures; 
  • Liability risk – which relates to the organisation’s services, products, information or behaviours that results in legal action against the organisation or its officers; 
  • Personnel risk – which relates to the safety, occupational health or well being of the organisation’s staff; 
  • Service delivery risk – which relates to failures in the provision of its services and how these may impact the organisation, and finally 
  • Technology risk – which relates to the security, safety, function and management of the organisation’s technology systems and processes.

A further aspect to consider is the extent to which the implementation of a Risk Management Framework represents challenges to your organisation in terms of implementation. This may require an effective change management strategy in order to maximse successful implementation.

OPTIMUM NFP has worked with many nonprofits in designing and implementing Risk Management Frameworks which respond directly to the unique organisational requirements whilst maintaining the important elements of the Australian Standards.

Further information regarding the work of OPTIMUM NFP in this area can be found by following this URL -

Contact David Rosenbaum of OPTIMUM NFP at or 0411-744-911 to further discuss your requirements and how your nonprofit may benefit from the work we do in this very important area.

In response to the change management challenges that may be connected to successful implementation, keep an eye out for the forthcoming NFP Change Management Masterclass being held in Sydney on Wednesday 12th September 2018, where participants will be introduced to NFP specific change management approaches which have directly resulted from this ground-breaking research. You can register your interest by following this URL -

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Change Management Masterclass for Nonprofit Sector

Can your nonprofit achieve its long-term goals in the absence of an effective change management strategy?

Organisational sustainability and change go hand-in-hand. Many organisations introduce change, or initiate and plan for change, in response to a wide range of internal and external triggers. For some it could be the result of key staff departures providing the opportunity to review and potentially refresh the organisational structure. For others it could be the result of difficulties with the external environment necessitating changes to long standing business models that have not been previously challenged.

Such changes can be viewed in many different ways by the staff within the organisation. Some will view these potential changes as opportunities by virtue of embracing the unknown, whilst improving whatever the shortcomings of the existing position may have been.  Others will view them as threats by virtue of being uncomfortable with the unknown, and the sense of possible loss of position, control, influence or power.

Recent ground-breaking research undertaken by Dr. David Rosenbaum of OPTIMUM NFP sought to understand what characterised planned organisational change in a nonprofit organisation and, in doing so, to identify any specific enhancements to recognised change management models that could therefore be beneficial to this sector. The fundamental premise of this research was that existing change management models have largely developed from research conducted in for-profit organisations. This suggests an historic underlying assumption that differences between the for-profit and the nonprofit sectors are potentially not relevant when considering such organisational challenges as change management.

The evidence however points to substantial differences that warrant serious consideration as to how the management of change should be considered within the nonprofit environment.

Dr. Rosenbaum’s research and its findings, which are supported by his change management practices within his consulting activities, are important to the Australian nonprofit sector for a number of reasons: 
  • Australian nonprofit organisations are currently facing many challenges that question their very existence, in the provision of disability services, aged care services, employment services, community services, health, education, etc.
  • Organisational survival will be dependent on the ability to change service delivery models, structures, and/or business models 
  • Change failure will cost your organisation at a time when you can least afford it, and

His research identified a number of processes that support successful change management in this sector.
  • It recognised the uniqueness of the nonprofit sector and its people;
  • It identified the impact that such uniqueness had on sustainable change management, and 
  • It researched change from the perspective of people experiencing and managing it.

The application of the findings of this research will ensure that people within your nonprofit can cope with change.

Dr. Rosenbaum has presented his analysis and findings at numerous international and domestic conferences in Rome, Boston, Liverpool (UK), San Francisco, Amsterdam, Darwin and most recently, Germany, as well as publishing in a number of academic journals, and he now brings the outcomes of his research into a Masterclass format.

The full-day Masterclass limits numbers to 16 participants and is structured to achieve the following objectives:
  1. Ensure a practical understanding of the triggers of organisational change and how these triggers can be harnessed to improve organisational change success
  2. Understanding recognised approaches to planned organisational change and deal with the practical implementation challenges to improve successful outcomes
  3. Recognising the findings of the research and how these should be embedded in your nonprofits change management program

This Masterclass is practiced orientated where the full-day session will introduce the theory and then focus largely on specific nonprofit change management case studies where participants will be challenged to utilise both existing change models together with the research outcomes to focus their attention on how to implement successful change.

Participants attending the session will achieve a better level of understanding of the drivers of effective and efficient organisational change in their nonprofit organisation. They will leave the session with new tools and techniques that can support such change and in the process, understand the full range of unique nonprofit attributes of change management that are supported by recent ground-breaking research.

The Masterclass is being held in Sydney on Wednesday 12th September 2018 and early registration is suggested given the limited number of seats available. You can register your interest online at or by contacting David Rosenbaum at or 0411-744-911 to obtain further information.

These Masterclasses will also be scheduled in Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra for 2019.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Revisiting Leadership Development in the Context of McKinseys’ 2014 Expose - and doing so from the Perspective of Nonprofit Organisations

In January 2014, an article appeared in the McKinsey Quarterly entitled “Why leadership-development programs fail.” They identified a number of shortcomings in current programs, including:
  • the fact that many of these programs overlook context by working on the invalid assumption that one size fits all;
  • the fact that reflection is decoupled from real work, underpinning the absence of real-life application of acquired theoretical knowledge
  • the fact that the need to change mind-sets which requires an associated change in behaviours is often overlooked, and finally
  • the fact that such programs tend to overlook the Return-on-Investment aspect associated with the cost of such programs.
Alternatives do exist utilising an Action Learning framework. Action Learning as an approach for driving performance was originally proposed by Professor Reg Revans in the 1940s and over the years has led to significant international successes, especially in the NFP sector where the central focus on mission and values enables participants to develop relevant work-based solutions in their own organisations, whilst furthering their own personal and professional development. By doing so, the Action Learning process successfully addresses the shortcomings that McKinsey and Co has identified in existing leadership development programs.
In 2014, OPTIMUM NFP participated in the development of the Not-for-Profit Leadership Survey which identified that 52% of respondent NFP CEO’s believed that whilst their management teams had strong technical capabilities, they lacked the leadership skills needed for the future. The survey suggested that traditionally, managers were promoted or appointed into their roles for their technical or professional skills and they learnt to manage a team through trial and error. As suggested in the report, the high costs of staff turnover and the need to develop staff to achieve organisational goals meant that managers needed to have highly developed leadership skills more so than technical skills.
Emotional Intelligence, or EI as it is usually referred to, is very often seen as a necessity in leadership roles, especially when leaders are focusing on the implementation of change programs, where appropriate engagement with all staff is not only necessary, but also fundamental to the success of the change program. EI has many facets including emotional self-awareness, emotional awareness of others, emotional self-management and control, emotional management of others, emotional reasoning, and expression.
Some authors suggest EI cannot be taught. Managers either have this skill or they don’t. Others suggest that whilst an innate leaning towards effective EI traits is prevalent amongst successful leaders, exposure to appropriate leadership and personnel development can either improve existing EI capabilities or at least expose potential leaders to a wide range of EI related attributes where, in the right environment, and with the right mentoring, can, over time, refine EI type skills.
In a potentially correlated issue, the Survey also found that 52% of respondents believed that their NFP’s inability to adapt to change was a risk to the sustainability of their organisation. A broader issue appeared to be the extent to which these organisations were change ready from a cultural perspective as well as from a technical preparedness level. In this regard the challenge for leaders is to understand what stage their organisation is at with regards its readiness to react to, and absorb change, identify the gaps, and then look to address them with a myriad of suitable approaches before change is implemented. Of course when we talk organisational culture, be it for change readiness purposes or for general performance purposes, a leader’s EI becomes of paramount importance, given the role that the leader plays in both these issues.
Seeing the above issues in context, it becomes clear that leadership development training may become critical in addressing the challenging issues that face this sector into the future. Whilst historical issues and challenges do exist with leadership development programs, approaches that incorporate Action Learning, are providing worthwhile benefits, and evidence does point to these addressing the shortcomings identified in the McKinsey article.
Additionally, Australian non-profits are experiencing a huge amount of change, brought about by a combination of internal organisational issues as well as a disproportionate amount of external environmental challenges. The former resulting directly from employees wanting more from their organisations in a climate of uncertainty around both employment and service delivery, whilst the latter resulting directly from a changing political landscape that is failing to underpin service delivery stability, let alone expansion, and a financial imperative that sees government policy more mindful of perceived budgetary imperatives than community well-being. The political focus on predominant economy-wide cost-reduction, without a corresponding increased focus on economy-wide revenue-generation, will continue to challenge activities within the non-profit sector.
So in this challenging context, what skills and expertise is required by managers of non-profit organisations into the future and to what extent does a skills gap currently exists?
A timeline of management developments over the last 50 years or so reflects a dual focus on organisational strategy as well as organisational leadership. This was evident in the works of Kanter, Porter, Peters & Waterman, Greenleaf, Covey, Hammer, Kaplan & Norton and many more. As the understanding of managing change came more and more to the fore, a focus on the individual in organisations as distinct to the organisational processes themselves became more prevalent. Management research and the associated academic research journals have become increasingly awash with such an emphasis, although the success of change management continues to elude many organisations.
The non-profit sector is not immune to these environmental events. Experiences in the commercial sector tends to mirror, or at least influence, events in the management of non-profit organisations, or at the very least there is a strong association which NFP leaders need to be cognisant of in their own deliberations.
So what are the attributes that are needed of leaders in the non-profit sector into the future? Based on my own Doctoral research and further informed through my consulting work with over 50 nonprofit organisations, I suggest that the sought-after attributes fall into two broad categories which I have labelled as ‘Thinking’ on the one hand and ‘Relationships’ on the other. Seems overly simplistic, but let me explain further.
Thinking involves lateral and medial thinking. The former is closely aligned to strategic thinking and is characterised by how well the leader can see the broader picture and incorporate ideas from a wide range of sources, not just what is in front of them at a particular point in time. In order to be effective at this type of thinking, leaders need very broad experience, not just in their own organisation or their own industry, but be able to incorporate broader experience to add value to the current challenge. 
Medial thinking focuses attention on the detailed issues necessary to bring scope and context to lateral thinking. Effectively it becomes the ‘How to?” of the “What if?” Here the leaders are focused on detail and the ability to actually deliver ideas and concepts to a point where their organisation can in fact function and respond to organisational and environmental challenges.
Related to ‘Thinking’ is the attribute of ‘Relationships’. I stress that this is related and not stand-alone. Without the ability to relate to a wide range of organisational stakeholders, whose complexities are well documented in the non-profit sector, ‘Thinking’ becomes redundant, at both levels. The key characteristics of ‘Relationships’ involve:
  • the ability to effectively communicate at all levels of the organisation as well as to all stakeholders, 
  • the ability to transcend limiting organisational structures where necessary and build effective in-house teams to resolve problems and challenges
  • the ability to harness individual and collective organisational skills to achieve strategic and operational outcomes
  • the ability to strengthen organisational capacity and individual capability
Consider your own organisation in the context of the above and where your leaders sit in this paradigm of Thinking and Relationships. What happens within your organisation to ensure these attributes exist and are being reinforced for both current and future leaders? How is learning accommodated for in this environmental context?
In the above context, there is a clear linkage between the attributes of Action Learning and the need to fill nonprofit organisational skills gaps, including the development of current and future leaders. As an experiential process of engagement Action Learning is premised on the following key characteristics:
  1. Being evidence based and grounded in a proven theoretical practice based discipline;
  2. A way of thinking about how one learns
  3. Driven by organisational and business needs
  4. Meeting the needs of the individual and the organisation
  5. Designed for tackling current problems
  6. Being action focused, and
  7. Having a learning focus at individual, team and organisational levels.
OPTIMUM NFP runs numerous programs that support organisational learning and skills development across all levels of leadership and management, as well as programs that support organisational change. Further details can be obtained at the OPTIMUM NFP web site at Alternatively, bespoke programs that respond directly to the unique requirements of your own organisation have also been developed and further information on these can be obtained by contacting David Rosenbaum at or by ringing 0411-744-911
Developing leaders, expanding skills and coping with organisational change. These are interrelated activities and all fundamental to your organisation's future sustainability. Act now.