I just had a 5-hour long jam session with Lori, Carissa, and Patsy on Charters vs. Business Plans vs. Work Plans as related to Industry Clusters for Workforce Development.

Wait… it wasn’t as bad as it sounds, and I can honestly say I felt engaged in the conversation the entire time.

Carissa brought coffee and doughnuts and Lori brought some candy.  I brought the ream of blank paper and a box of small toys to spawn ideas (bubbles, hackey sacks, flashlights, etc).

We worked through lunch, and since I’ve only had sugar and caffeine for nutrition the entire day, I’m suffering right now from some sort of withdrawl and drug crash.  I can feel the headache brewing (so to speak), but I think I can make it the rest of the day before entering that realm of glucose drop that makes me feel like I’m going to pass out. Nothing a Coke at Chuy’s with my parents can’t fix!

So the actual discussion about business plans was pretty interesting.  We, as an organization, have to reposition ourselves to think more like a business and less like a charity.  I think I already have the perspective coming from industry and being generally entrepreneurial, so I have a lot to offer this new approach.

It is a true shift of thinking, however, for people like Lori (who have lived in the non-profit world for so long) to start speaking in terms of ROI and bottom lines.

Yet, it’s simply not enough for me to walk into a negotiation saying, “Let’s all hold hands and make the world a better place.”  It is CRITICAL for me to be equipped to say, “If you invest in our collaboration, you will cut costs and increase revenue.”

I think a summary of our discussion is in order, but it would presuppose a lot of background knowledge of what, exactly, it is that I do.

So tonight I’ll write a quick summary of my job and what my organization works on.

Then, I think the output from today’s session would make a whole lot more sense.