Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Collaboration of the Willing - Leading from Behind

I've used this graphic dozens of times to illustrate a vision of engaging workplace volunteers in long-term strategies that help inner-city youth move from first grade to first jobs. I've created a library of graphics like this on Pinterest and posted a library of illustrated essays on

I started doing this almost 20 years ago when I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection, at the same time as I and six other volunteers were creating the Cabrini Connections tutor/mentor program in Chicago. Every year since then, I've invested time, talent, and a fragmented flow of dollars to build the Tutor/Mentor Connection. Doing this as part of a single tutor/mentor program provided many benefits, but it also made it difficult for leaders throughout the region to clearly understand the T/MC strategy.

This is another graphic I've used often. We all want the outcomes shown at the top of this graphic, but without the work at the bottom, too few people are connected to each other, and too few are working strategically to support age-appropriate tutoring, mentoring, learning, jobs programs, etc. in every high poverty neighborhood of the city and suburbs.

Recently a friend send me a document from the World Economic Forum, titled "Multistakeholder Collaboration for Healthy - Living Toolkit for Joint Action". On the web site where this PDF is shared, is a message saying "To assist stakeholders in initiating and managing multistakeholder actions for Healthy Living, the Forum and the Pan American Health Organization, in collaboration with Bain & Company, have developed the “Toolkit for Multistakeholder Action”. The Toolkit is based on a simple six-block framework to help collaborations structure and progress with their joint work.

It provides step-by-step guidelines, hands-on templates, practical resources and case studies to illustrate solutions to the core challenges of multistakeholder actions at the local, national or global level.

On page 8 of this pdf this graphic illustrates the six steps of multi-stakeholder collaboration. In this concept map, I point to several dozen intermediary organizations working in the Chicago region and focused on the well-being of youth. If you know leaders in these organizations, I encourage you to share the PDF with them.

Many have asked me for the strategic plan of the Tutor/Mentor Connection. While I've created written versions of this countless times since 1993, I feel that "my web sites" are the plan, and are the plan in action! Anyone who is willing to spend the time, can browse through the web sites and learn the strategies I've developed over the past 20 years, and apply them to their own work. I've created a variety of PDF essays to summarize what I'm trying to do, such as this one. I've also created a series of concept maps, that show the vision of helping youth in poverty move to jobs, and this one showing the 4-part strategy that supports what leaders can do to help make this happen.

In 2011 after the Cabrini Connections board of directors voted to no longer support the Tutor/Mentor Connection, I created the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC as a business structure to keep the T/MC available in Chicago and to help similar intermediaries grow in other cities. I created this WIKI to show my goals, and this PDF to show value of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC to others.

After reviewing the WEB graphic, I created a new version, showing actions I have been taking related to each of the six steps in the tool kit. That graphic is below.

I created this concept map, showing the 4-part strategy, and work that needs to be done to support each step of the strategy more fully. I don't have the organizational strength, funds, or talent to do all of this myself. Others need to share ownership, if they also share the vision of helping kids in every poverty neighborhood overcome the violence, poverty, negative aspirations, etc. that face them.

In this Harvard Business Review blog article by Linda Hill, she talks about leaders like Nelson Mandella, who “stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”

This is the type of leadership I provide, and the goal of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC. I believe the ideas and resources I've aggregated, and the tools I continue to develop, can be used by any organization in Chicago that works to help youth and families.

In this ROLE OF LEADERS pdf, I invite leaders from business and many other sectors to take the lead in strategies that help kids move from first grade to first jobs. In this RESOURCES pdf, I show tools I've developed to support such leaders in Chicago. With help, these can be developed and used to support leaders sharing similar goals, in any city in the world.

It has taken me more than 35 years to develop these ideas, and I'm constantly learning and updating my own thinking. Thus, I hope you and others will take a little time each month over the next few years to understand and apply these ideas in your own thinking. As you do, share what you do on blogs and web sites and I and others will learn from you.

If you'd like to connect, why not attend the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference in Chicago on Monday, Nov. 4, or introduce yourself to me on Twitter, Facebook, Linked in or this blog.

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