Saturday, February 27, 2010

March 1, 2010

Important and Uplifting Event Coming Up
Be sure to save May 20 on your calendar for the NFTE regional business plan competition banquet. NFTE (Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship), offered through the Lyles Center at Fresno State, is student by student changing the culture of our region. The primary aim—helping young people from low-income communities build life-long skills and unlock their entrepreneurial creativity—is relevant for everyone. Critical thinking, problem solving, a belief in possibilities, the passion that develops discipline—all are essential to thrive in this century. Nearly 600 students have gone through the program this year and only the top 5 will present their plans at the event. The 4th annual banquet will be held at International Catering beginning at 5:30 AM. To register or more information go to If you are interesting in sponsorship, contact If you are curious about the path to becoming an entrepreneur, send an email request and you will receive a PowerPoint slide.

Governing Magazine Showcases Solutions From Other States
As California remains locked in polarized finger pointing and strangled by self and single interests, Indiana and Detroit found solutions—go after transformational change and create a separate, independent and empowered team focused on one thing—instituting big changes. Mayor Bing convened a crisis turnaround team that is recommending a total revamp of city operations. Stay tuned on execution. In 2005, Governor Daniels and the Government Efficiency and Financial Planning Department reordered the 73 agencies and more than 300 boards and commissions that made India unmanageable, unaccountable and inefficient. The state also embraced innovations and spent less money than they took in as revenues. As a result, Indiana has been able to fund infrastructure without raising taxes and has a health fiscal outlook. When the problem is structural, there cannot be enough small fixes to add up to solution. As Sun Tzu taught--the solution is both a comprehensive strategy and the relentless execution of tactics:

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory.
Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

Thursday, February 18, 2010

February 15, 2010

Message From the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
One of the most interesting agenda items at our Board of Directors meetings has been a member report on one of this region’s “Community Values”. Last week Peter Weber made an excellent presentation on “Commitment to Outcomes”. He went to the core of the ongoing civic transformation efforts in our community. He stressed that while concepts are preliminary to progress, they are ineffective unless they are brought into reality. “Commitment to Outcomes” arrives when individuals have traversed the hanging bridge that spans “talking the talk” and “walking the walk”. We are deeply indebted to those who have made the trek.

The Importance of First Principles In Times of Rapid Change
Where you begin your thinking about a problem has everything to do with what you come up with as a solution. As our organization is committed to finding solutions to the critical challenges we face economically, environmentally and socially, the Community Values have provided a useful lens through which to craft strategies and guide behaviors. The verbs associated with a Commitment to Outcomes are: “We are willing to take responsibility for tasks and achieving specified outcomes. We are committed to staying involved until the tasks are completed.” When the values were first written down in 2000 as a proposed new operating system, this value had more to do with getting past the “someone oughta do something”, plans sitting on shelves phenomenon that had replaced the traditional barn raising, all hands on deck culture of our past. In Fresno, we know it is about both being strategic and relentless action. Thus, at the meeting the focus of the discussion was about the difference between results and outcomes and the critical importance of both.

Results and Outcomes—Tactical Actions Aligned Behind A Shared Strategy
Global outcomes like prosperity, an educated and healthy populace and a quality environment are the responsibility of everyone. No sector or organization has enough authority, resources or talent to achieve these goals, but everyone has a piece of the puzzle. Unlike outcomes, results are more easily measurable, often within the control of a specific entity and typically follow a linear pathway. A focus exclusively on results often leads to bureaucracies and competition, while a shared focus on outcomes inspires innovation and collaboration. The big challenges we face as a community, state and nation will require us to think globally and take personal responsibility for our part in the solutions. Both the RJI and HII were designed to be adaptive frameworks and aimed at outcomes. Our community assets are plentiful and when we decide to more fully align them, we will scale and accelerate both results and outcomes.

Find Your Passion and Take Action
The following quotes honor both the importance of inspiration and taking action.

In the realm of ideas everything depends on enthusiasm… in the real world all rests on perseverance.” Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe 1749-1832

“The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.” Thomas Edison 1847-1937

“The kind of commitment I find among the best performers across virtually every field is a single-minded passion for what they do and an unwavering desire for excellence in the way they think and the way they work.” Jim Collins, Good to Great 1958

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

February 8, 2010

Message From the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
One of the qualities that makes this nation great is our ability to come together in times of crisis. Whether it was the Twin Tower destruction in New York City, nature’s rampage in New Orleans and environs or the recent devastation in Haiti, our people set aside their often strident differences and unites in focusing on their inherent compassion for those who were hurting. Have you noticed that we are seeing some of that same concern in the emerging conduct of our national, state and local affairs? As we struggle to extricate ourselves from this nation’s most serious economic depression in seventy years, we are witnessing this same spirit of an ultimate oneness in maximizing the effectiveness of our democratic processes. Solutions do not come from an inflexible polarization of issues. We are beginning to understand that by bringing differing opinions to a common table for a collaborative solution, we enhance the opportunity to hasten the return to national economic normalcy for all among us. That, in brief, is the ongoing mission of the Fresno Business Council.

“Compete”—From the Latin—To Strive Together
In many arenas, we are learning that we must collaborate to be able to compete. Human development—our ability to better ourselves and our culture—has been a central focus for decades. One region, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, has crafted a framework that has gained the attention of major foundations, government and other communities. Their website is Some of you may remember Stan Oken’s efforts to promote Whole Child. Dr. James Comer put an entire system together to be integrated into schools to develop the whole child and many have done so with strong results. How do we scale and accelerate what have been outlier performances in individual cells to permeate and transform the whole system? Strive Together may well have pulled together the intellectual, financial and social capital to make it happen and like Roger Bannister, may have broken through a barrier that releases many others to do so. Collaboration and values are central to their efforts:

Strive Together includes:
• the educators who teach;
• the nonprofits who support teaching and well-being;
• the philanthropies that provide financial support to both;
• the elected officials who create policy change;
• and the corporations who need a local, skilled workforce.

Participants believe that education:
• must be holistic, because what happens outside of school is just important as what happens inside of school;
• providers must be accountable and make decisions based on data;
• is a cradle to career endeavor, and that working together is key to eliminating the “cracks” that children might fall through;
• must be fair so that every child, regardless of circumstance, can find the support they need to achieve their dreams.