Things work better when you’re clear—really clear—about what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and how you’re doing it together.

That means defining your position, respecting your most important relationships, and working in ways that fully leverage the right parts of your organization.

Find “concord” through an integrated approach to organizational positioning, relationship management and operational alignment.

Why “concord?”

It’s how great work gets done.

con·cord (ˈkäNGˌkôrd/) noun 1. formal agreement or harmony between people and actions.  synonyms: agreement, harmony, accord, concordance, consensus, concurrence, unity.

Strategic Positioning

  • message and strategy development
  • writing
  • creative direction
  • integrated communications planning

Your mission and brand are solid, but your positioning might not be as clear as it should be. A thoughtful approach ensures integrity, maximizes a crucial moment and mitigates risk. A well-considered plan, including targeted messages for each of your key stakeholder groups, advances your mission, builds goodwill and can reveal hidden opportunities and unforeseen challenges.

Relationship Engagement

  • 360° stakeholder review
  • engagement strategies and tactics
  • constituent data practices

Being prepared to engage stakeholders at pivotal moments depends upon understanding the true nature of your relationships and managing the information you maintain on them. Data managed in systems by type of relationship needs to be put to work as a powerful, integrated resource. Gain deeper insights into how to strengthen connections and make a bigger impact through a structured approach to identifying key relationships, articulating mutual interest and mapping an engagement strategy.

Operational Alignment

  • project management
  • business process audit and development
  • role clarification and functional alignment
  • collaborative execution plans
  • technology and human practice integration

How you operate on the inside shows up in what you do outside. If policies and processes aren’t clear, or roles and responsibilities aren’t defined, it’s hard to get the best work done. Effectiveness and morale can plummet. By building agreements across functions and aligning clear processes, organizations become more focused and nimble at delivering on the promise at the heart of their missions.

Examples of Past Work

Annual report reimagined.

message development | writing | creative direction | project management

Minnesota’s largest social service nonprofit had a hefty annual report that covered the incredible, life-spanning work of its twenty-plus lines of service, and told stories of profound impact. In a time when people were looking for more digital content and less paper mail, it was expensive to produce and distribute.

The pitch was to create a spare, accordion-fold piece using high impact photographs with a long-held core message emblazoned across both sides. Readers were directed to a dedicated web page providing information about services and stories about how those served changed their lives with through the support they received.

Combining a powerful core message with strong photography on a relatively small piece made a big impact. It was broadly displayed in churches, homes and the offices of elected officials and others. Equally important, employees were proud to see their work presented so powerfully. By rethinking the form and function, the organization spent less and got more.

Capital campaign meets leadership transition.

communications strategy | writing | creative direction | collaborative execution plan

A nationally-recognized Federally Qualified Health Clinic serving the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis, was embarking on a capital campaign to raise funds to support their innovative model of integrated care.  They needed help positioning the campaign and writing the case for support. After connecting them to a strategic fundraising partner, we went to work on building the story and producing the pieces that would help tell it.

Then a crucial pivot occurred, the CEO announced her resignation. Focus turned toward supporting the board chair in positioning the announcement and formulating the plan for undertaking the search for a new leader in the midst of a campaign, including vetting firms to serve as their executive search partner.  With a clear, positive message and a map for engaging key stakeholders in the transition, the search began.  The case for support was completed and the new leader will take the helm of an organization with a strong, shared vision for the future of the clinic, and the community it serves.

When a hard decision turns into good news.

communications strategy | stakeholder engagement | collaborative execution plan

A service for older adults inside a large, multi-service nonprofit needed to do some restructuring that included ending service at 25 sites statewide. It was a hard decision to have to make. The team had a strong rationale and a solid operational plan, ensuring that viable options continued to be available for those most affected. What hadn’t been fully considered was the potential impact the changes would have on other services or the organization as a whole. It risked leaving communities with the impression that the organization was pulling out altogether and created the possibility that some key stakeholders would be left surprised or confused by the news.

The solution? Convening a cross-functional team, including leaders from development, government relations, partner relations and communications. Opportunities and risks were considered, a comprehensive stakeholder list compiled, the message to each developed and a roll-out plan put in place. The service team handled the operational dimensions smoothly while the teams from the other units engaged the wider community. The result? The service made its structural changes, some additional gap funding was provided by the state to minimize impact, and a small number of community organizations took over services in select communities. The collaborative process led to more goodwill towards the organization and strengthened its strategic, cross-functional muscle.

Creating a production management system to serve better.

business process audit and development | role clarification and functional alignment | collaborative execution plans | technology and human practice integration

Taking on the leadership of a small, nimble marketing and communications team serving as the internal agency for an organization with 21-plus lines of service committed to innovation and growth, it became quickly clear the shop needed a disciplined system for tracking work in the pipeline.

We started first by improving weekly traffic meetings to figure out what was coming in and going out. That led to the decision to develop a formal system to manage production. Assigning the right project manager and engaging our IT colleagues were the next steps. The effort required that each member of the team consider and modify individual ways of working to create agreements and standard practices that were then aligned with client processes.

Using Microsoft Sharepoint, we designed and built a way to see and manage the flow of projects from initiation to completion. It meant better reporting and sounder planning. Over two years, big strides were made in both human practice and the integration of technology, laying the groundwork for continuous improvements in planning, execution and reporting. By managing the work in progress better, greater focus could be given to delivering the right marketing and communications solutions for our clients.

“Can't we figure out better ways to work together?”

strategy development | stakeholder engagement | collaborative execution plan

The leadership of Minnesota’s largest county was interested in building a stronger working relationship with the state’s flagship research university. Coordinating whatever that meant turned into an opportunity to shape a new position that would serve as a liaison between the two enterprises.

It started as a fact-finding, expectation-shaping conversation, which led to the next and then to the next. Each explored opportunities for students, county leaders and faculty researchers to achieve better outcomes for people living and working in the county.  From there, it turned to making connections between the most pressing issues the county was facing and faculty doing research that could lead to service delivery improvements. While teams followed the research pathways, the organizations turned attention to creating a position that would continue to make connections and fosters collaborations to solve real-world problems.

Positioned to change the world.

strategy positioning | writing

A young leader reached out for help with shaping a positioning statement for a fellowship she is pursuing. Curious, I agreed to meet about serving as her editor. During our first conversation, I became captivated by her passion, focus and disciplined approach to the vision she has for the change she will create in the world. What started as an editing project for an application submission turned into the start of a clarifying process for the enterprise she is building and for her long-term leadership pathway. We finished up her submission and, and it will be a great honor and advantage if she is selected. If she isn’t, she’ll keep pushing her vision forward. She’s totally got this.

I’m a creative problem solver and
a cross-functional translator.

As opportunities and challenges emerge, I can help assess the upsides and the risks, define your position and the story that will explain it best, consider the needs of diverse stakeholders and build operational agreements so you can get done what you need to do.