EMPOWERMENT ORGANIZATION : “One Small Thing” Examples — Corporate, Non-Profit, Grass Roots

By , February 19, 2008 5:03 pm

 Kathy’s Experience: “One Small Thing” Focusing Exercise
(see Week One Empowerment Organization for Introduction)
    I did the “One Small Thing” Focusing Exercise included below on my own problem/goal: Getting Listening/Focusing Partnership skills incorporated into existing support groups, such as 12-Step, divorce/bereavement, cancer/other medical conditions, etc.
     Here’s what came up! Certainly a novel idea I had never thought of before. I’m not sure I will implement, need to talk with others, but here it is:  “Offer a free copy of the Focusing In Community manual to audiences filled with support group facilitators (magazines, e-discussion groups, websites) as a PDF file to support group facilitators signing up for the e-newsletter and/or Creative Edge Practice e-group — or something like that — assume, once they have seen the manual, they will buy the supporting audio/visual materials — or, at least, the word will get out and some will try the skill-training out.
    I hope you try out the Exercise on a project important to you. Here are examples for a variety of corporate, non-profit, and grass-roots endeavors, all where “empowerment organization = motivating from the bottom up” was being sought (taken from Instant “Ahah!” #6 in Mini-Manual):
Example One: Achieving Corporate Buy-In
   At Old Navy (Business Week, June,19, 2006), Innovation Champion Ivy Ross, catching the MySpace-type lifestyle of today, used a Facebook-style CD in an effort to bind old and new employees into one new group. Every employee filmed three minutes of “something so personal it would take years to discover it.” Ross had new and old employees hungrily viewing the CD. They quickly became bonded into one, new group, “infused — with a close tightness essential for innovation.” Ross had found the “One Small Thing.”
Example Two: Revitalizing the PTO at a public school
     The PTO of a public school was languishing. A handful of parents were doing all the work. A new property tax bill dramatically cut funding to the public schools, wiping out PE teachers, art, music, librarians, nurses — The parents suddenly had to raise a whole lot of money from a population of middle to low income parents.
     The small group of committed parents started selling Grocery Store Gift Certificates. The PTO could purchase the “scrip” at a 5% discount, resell it to parents to use to buy groceries, and make a 5% profit on something parents had to buy anyway. Everyone had to buy groceries!  They sold “scrip” in the front hallway before school and at school events and PTO meetings.
     Suddenly, everyone was buying “scrip” – grandparents, neighbors, as well as parents and teachers. People were coming into the school to purchase “scrip” and staying to paint walls or help with reading. The only people who were unhappy were parents who were on food stamps – they were furious that they couldn’t contribute!!!! The PTO had found the One Small Thing that allowed everyone to become involved.
     Now, parents had a “stake” in how the money would be spent. Attendance at PTO meetings grew to thirty, making decisions about how to distribute the funds, how to enlarge the “scrip” program. Teachers came to present proposals for funding.
     In the first year, the PTO raised $11,000 (at the 5% net profit, gross sales of $220,000!) to hire a part-time PE teacher who would teach the other teachers how to run PE classes. The “scrip” program spread to other public schools and, ten years later, a large banner in front of the town high school reads “Buy Grocery Scrip”.
     But, more importantly, the entire school was revitalized.  The parents had to establish a “volunteer lounge” at the school to accommodate all the volunteers!
Hypothetical Example: Global Warming
     You are Al Gore.  You want to get every day citizens involved in the issue of Global Warming. But most people feel apathetic: “Oh, there is nothing that one person can do — it is up to governments.”
     Well, maybe it is up to governments — but non-apathetic, engaged citizens are the ones to put pressure on governments.  So, you are looking for that “one small thing.” “What is one small thing that masses of people would be willing to do and which would act as a first step toward full engagement?”
     Here’s a possibility:  Purportedly, “idling” your car greatly increases the output of pollutants. Yet, everyone, without giving it a thought, “idles” at drive-up banks, fast food take-outs, school pick ups. What about a “Stop Idling! Stop Greenhouse Gases” campaign? With bumper stickers, flyers on car windows or handed out at drive-up locations — the double-entendre “Don’t idle and don’t be idle!” —
   If you can get people, all over the world, to “Stop Idling!”, you will have them engaged in thinking about global warming every day — and primed to engage in other actions which you initiate.
Empowerment Organization = Motivating From The Bottom Up

You want to find “One Small Thing” that every person in the community or organization can become involved in with minimal effort but maximum sense of satisfaction in contributing something to the larger mission.  If the first step of involvement is too big, too difficult, then most people won’t be willing to do it.

So, you have to keep looking until you find something so small that everyone can do it, easily, willingly, yet so important that it will feel like a real contribution, a first step of commitment to the larger cause. Then, you can invite these involved, engaged people into further Collaborative Decision Making about the project.
If your “One Small Thing” project is not having the desired effect, then the step is too big, requires too much motivation or commitment. If that is the case, then you need to look for a smaller step until you find the one that works.

Your Turn
So, let’s use the Intuitive Focusing skill to find the “one small thing” to engage and motivate your target audience, be it consumers, citizens, volunteers, or employees.
Click here for the full Focusing Exercise

Find links to free articles, personality tests, multi-media Self-Help training, Classes and workshops

Dr. Kathy McGuire, Director

Creative Edge Focusing (TM)


The site of new insights and creative solutions is at the edge of what is already known. This edge, The Creative Edge, holds implicit within it all past and future knowing about the problem, more than could ever be put into words in a linear way 

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