Three concepts shape the projects McKenzie Consulting Group accepts, the people and groups I partner with, and the way I carry out our work together:
1. Increasing the coherence among all of an organization’s parts is good for everybody.
A healthy, productive organization develops missions, policies, communications, and relationships that are mutually coherent.
Mission is an organization’s why, its reason for being and for providing a specific kind of social value. Policies and practices are the frame the organization uses to express that reason. Internal communications refine staff members’ shared steps toward their mission; external communications connect staff with the people they wish to serve and influence. Combined, internal communications and external communications allow an organization to shape how it describes itself to itself, how it describes itself to others, how it interacts with others, and the stories of meaning that it weaves around its relationships with others in society.
Coherence in these four areas makes for less institutional “sound and fury”; more fluid decision-making, even during crises; and more sustainable mission effectiveness overall. A few practices can increase group-wide coherence.
- Zoom Out. Sometimes it helps to step back and see where you are and what you’re building. I review and report on organizational governance structure—factors like mission, vision, values, board structure, strategic planning practices, income patterns, and reporting cycles. Reports can include any other institutional features or factors on request.
- Examine the Frame. Policy and document assessments break down an existing policy or document and also include strategic revisions. For an additional cost, assessments can also include a template that managers can use to help to analyze their materials in-house in future.
- Tell Your Story. Guided conversations about an institution’s or program’s narrative can help staff to remember the why behind their routines, the roles that specific programs play, and their power to write their story’s next chapter.
To strengthen coherence in your organization, partner with me.
2. Quality communication is unitive: it deepens the connections among an organization, the people who work through it, and the people they serve.
Each time we start a project, we’ll explore your intentions for creating or revising content and the context you’d like to influence:
- Motives. Why are you reaching out to stakeholders?
- Outcomes. How do you want to impact readers?
- Audience. What background, beliefs, and prior knowledge does the audience bring to what you’ll share with them?
My training in technical communication and rhetoric means that clients have someone on their team who’s attuned to clear, accurate, effective information design and audience-centered presentation and persuasion. Because of that background, I’m often asked to review and create specific types of communications including web copy, research reports, project evaluations, issue statements, social media posts, fundraising requests, administrative briefings, and conference presentations.
But beyond the tangible products I create, I’m always working with individuals, businesses, and non-profits to ensure that the communications they publish represent them well and accomplish their goals: deepening engagement, building public awareness, and informing and motivating action.
3. Knowledge is the application of information in ways that prompt sounder decisions over time. It’s best shared with those willing to take informed action.
Lots of organizations are functional and make sales. But not all organizations make knowledge.
I choose to partner with people and organizations that are increasing their levels of practical wisdom. Practical wisdom, what Aristotle called phronesis, depends on understanding one’s community and environment, managing based on fact and not just tradition, and insisting on continuous system-wide improvement even as macro trends and day-to-day circumstances change.
Articles, scholarly research, collaborations, and invited presentations or panels are all ways for people and organizations to share applied information and practical wisdom with their peers and future partners. I encourage clients to publish their insights and discoveries in publicly accessible media as well as in traditional discipline-appropriate forums: whether you’re part of the arts, STEM, or social disciplines, you’ll grow strong by sharing your learning with others.