About the Author

CAREER OVERVIEW

Brenda Herchmer has a diverse background gained in a variety of government, education, business, and voluntary sector settings. A writer, educator, consultant, and project manager, her primary work has involved organizational and community transformation and the change process, training, and leadership it requires. She has specialized in leadership development, adaptive planning, and recreation and community development. She is the owner of Grassroots Enterprises and the Campus for Communities of the Future (a social enterprise/micro college).

Brenda is an avid writer of both mainstream and academic material, a… More Posted on 01-01-13

Maturity and Moxy?

I don’t know much about building cars or how to fix them if something goes wrong, but I would say I’m a pretty good driver.

Driving a car is also how I think about information technology. And, even though I don’t speak geek, know very little about coding, and struggle to fix anything when it goes wrong, I use technology better than most people my age.

For me technology is simply an extraordinary gift providing previously unfathomable opportunities to communicate, share ideas, learn, grow, challenge, collaborate, advocate, engage, and make… More Posted on 11-24-17

Do Real Leaders Work Middle Out?

There is nothing more rewarding than teaching a group of motivated adult learners.

They are quite different from the students I used to teach in a face-to-face college setting where it was sometimes necessary to channel my inner tap dancer to get and keep their attention. Instead, these adult learners are generally much more motivated and eager to learn.

Perhaps more importantly, they have much to contribute to the classroom in terms of information, knowledge, and wisdom.

That realization is continually reinforced for me during the webinars we offer… More Posted on 11-16-17

If a Three Year Old Can Understand Cooperation…

Our youngest son wasn’t quite three years old at the time when his older brother unexpectedly gave him one of his coveted GI Joes.

As the result of being the recipient of such unexpected generosity, he turned to me, grinned, and said, “Mommy, that’s cooperation”.

While I was sure a child with that kind of a vocabulary was a genius, upon questioning, I soon realized that he had simply absorbed cooperation as the word of the day from Sesame Street. 

But it turns out he was on to something because cooperation is, or at least should be,… More Posted on 11-05-17

Simplicity Lifts the Fog of Complexity

Simplicity lifts the fog of complexity.

That’s not to say simplicity is easy because getting to simplicity rarely comes without a lot of teeth grinding, heated discussions, and a team willing to work really really hard. 

I’m working now with that kind of amazing team from Yukon, NWT and Nunavut to develop training and resources for existing and emerging community recreation leaders.

The truth is that we have worked extraordinarily hard not only to figure out how to deliver training across a land mass that represents 39% of… More Posted on 09-25-17

Skunkworks? A Solution for Community Building?

Community building involves working with a variety of government departments, non-profit organizations, and businesses. Over the years I’ve learned all three typically have a lot in common.

For example, by most standards they are successful and have leaders who are smart and pretty good at doing what they do. They also acknowledge we’re living in a world undergoing fundamental, rapid, and long term change driven in large part by unprecedented growth in technology.

The thing is that while they know they need to be more nimble and innovative, they are often… More Posted on 06-02-17

Turning Learning Upside Down

While it really isn’t anything I can explain, every once in a while I stumble across a transformative concept that simply feels right. Sometimes I try to push the concept to the back of my mind because I know implementing that change is going to result in disruption, not to mention a significant amount of work. Ultimately though the concept keeps surfacing and draws me in like a moth to a flame.

Recently two such moments got me thinking about teaching in a very different way. That’s not to say… More Posted on 03-22-17

Complex Issues Means Rethinking How We Plan

Given the nature of my work as the principal collaborator of a social enterprise focused on supporting seasoned and aspiring leaders to meet complex community demands, January is often marked by a flurry of emails and calls from organizations who, after finally getting a chance during the holidays to slow down and reflect,  get pumped up about organizing a strategic planning session. 

                         

Quite rightly they would see the beginning of a new calendar as a time to… More Posted on 01-03-17

Are We Designing Systems for Failure?

                             

It was a nightmare of a trip - definitely a long time, not a good time. 

My flight, on a major airline, was initially delayed three hours due to mechanical difficulties.  Apparently this particular airline doesn’t feel it’s important to notify passengers of delays even though they do make a point of collecting email addresses as well as business, home and cell phone numbers when tickets are purchased. But, as the ticket attendant pointed out… More Posted on 01-03-17

Life’s “Gong-able” Moments

                       

There’s no doubt my youngest brother is happy to see the tailend of 2016. His year has been especially brutal and if not for an off-the-chart stubbornness gene, I’m sure he wouldn’t have survived it. 

Already in a wheelchair as the result of an accident, over the years he has had vertebrae in his back fused as well as 3 hip replacements. The last one was complicated by botched surgery, a broken femur, and the loss of a… More Posted on 01-01-17

Want to Grow Your Community?

Ugh. Another meeting focused on one of my least favourite subjects – evaluation.

I’m not sure why my initial reaction is so negative. Is it because there’s so much pressure these days to make things happen that we don’t have the time to pause, never mind look back and reflect? Or is it because evaluation is a word that evokes judgment and a focus on what we may or may not be doing right?

Perhaps in the interest of being open-minded I’ll just substitute the word learning for evaluation. Asking,… More Posted on 10-28-16

Three Paths to Help Conquer the Chaos of Change

I’m having a tough time finding many straightforward workplaces these days. My community building work often results in me landing in organizations where solutions are complicated and messy. Not only that, the need for change is sometimes driven by a belief (usually that of the funders or elected officials involved) that there is a one-size-fits-all secret sauce solution that can be implemented within several months.

Needless to say these days it often takes much longer to check anything off my to-do list. Sigh.

Without a doubt this drive for change is… More Posted on 09-15-16

Brilliant Ideas Aren’t Always Complicated

Most people would have bet against it ever happening. After all, six weeks ago, it was just a crazy idea generated by a guy who managed to convince a few of his friends it would be fun. There were no links to a formal organization that could have provided support, nor was there any funding in place.

However, what most people failed to take into account is that there is significant and growing interest in a different kind of leisure. As identified in the National Framework for Recreation in Canada… More Posted on 09-01-16

What the World Needs Now is Phronesis?!?

Sometimes multi-tasking is a good thing. It has in fact, strengthened the Campus for Communities where I work with a number of other associates as its Founder and Principal Collaborator. 

The grassroots consulting, coaching, and facilitating being done by our associates feeds and shapes the training, tools, and resources we are able to offer via the Campus. In a reciprocal fashion, the training, tools, and resources feed and shape the calibre of what we are able to bring to our respective consulting work.

It works as a methodology - albeit an unexpected one - for curating, simplifying, and… More Posted on 08-02-16

Always Change a Losing Game

It was a long time ago but it’s a memory that is always triggered by the kind of hot and humid weather we had this past weekend. And, it’s one that that never fails to make me smile.

I was 17 years old and in my second year of serious competition in track. 

With some of my key contenders competing elsewhere, I managed to win gold at the Eastern Canadian meet in the 400 metres and to everyone’s surprise, including my own, qualified for the national championships in Winnipeg.
More Posted on 06-21-16

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