Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Brainstorming. Sharing ideas. Influencing Others.

Last week I spent three hours talking with Mark Carter, who leads a small consulting firm in Chicago. We've been meeting about once every two months with a goal of me helping Mark understanding my goals and strategies, so that Mark becomes a leader who shares them with others. After a previous meeting Mark posted this blog article.

In last week's meeting we were focusing on how the Tutor/Mentor Connection could be a project that engages business mentors and high school/college students in ways that help non school volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs grow, and help youth move more successfully from college to jobs. As we talked I began to scratch out my ideas on a piece of paper. You can see this below.

The ideas this is conveying is that an intermediary could recruit volunteers from marketing, advertising, communications companies who would coach teams of youth who would do pro bono consulting to help non profits gain strategies they could apply to help programs grow. Instead of helping a single tutor/mentor program grow, I suggested these teams could help all tutor/mentor programs in a defined geography. Furthermore, the student/volunteer teams would apply the strategies they develop, on an on-going basis, rather than give them over to the non profit hoping they could find the resources to implement the idea. The four circles in the lower right of the graphic were indicating quarterly events that youth intermediary could organize. New students joining the project in future years would be building upon the work started by previous students, thus the impact on the non profits would grow, as would the impact on the youth doing the capacity building.

I do a lot of idea generating on scratch paper like this. In many cases I then convert the idea to a power point visualization. Here's the same idea, with a new graphic.

I admit that most of my visualizations are a bit simplistic. That's why I've been pleased to have interns from IIT and other universities create their own versions of my graphics. Visit this page to see a collection of visualizations done by interns, and showing the original source of their work.

All of the work I've done since 1993 is intended to influence the actions of others. In fact, if you lead a tutor/mentor program, which I did from 1974 to 2011, you spend every day trying to influence what volunteers, donors, board members, staff, youth and community partners do. I was pleased to find this article on the Stanford Social Innovation Review this past week, which describes "Influence as an underutilized tool for organizations that want to achieve bold social goals."

In the graphic above I described a goal of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC of helping T/MC-type intermediary groups grow on college campuses and in high schools throughout the Chicago region and in other cities. Such groups would duplicate my own efforts, and over time, innovate even better ways to communicate ideas and influence actions that help youth born in high poverty have the support system they need to move through school and into work.

If you'd like to take on this role
, let's connect on Twitter, or in the Tutor/Mentor Connection forum where I coach interns to do this work.

See more of these ideas on past blog articles, as well as in the Mapping for Justice blog.

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