About the Author

Brenda Herchmer is the owner of Grassroots Enterprises, a community development consulting company and an emerging tech start up called Campus for Communities.  Brenda Herchmer has a diverse background gained in a variety of government, business, and voluntary sector settings. Her primary work has involved community building and comprehensive community transformation and the change process and leadership it requires. Technology has always played a significant role in her endeavours. She specializes in community development,strategic planning, and community leadership, recently serving as the Director of Alberta Recreation and Parks Association’s… More Posted on 01-01-13

Vice President of Photocopying?

A number of years ago I did some work with a very funny, self-employed motivational speaker. As a one person operation there was a lot involved in getting himself promoted, booked and on the road. As a result he put his daughter to work. At the age of nine he bestowed upon her the title of Vice-President of Photocopying. She even had her own business cards and a pay cheque based on an hourly rate - albeit one quite a bit below the legislated minimum.

While it made for a humourous anecdote he often used in his speeches, it also… More Posted on 02-18-15

Community +  Collaboration = Innovation

I am blessed to have wonderfully fulfilling consulting, coaching, and training work that also provides me with the opportunity to travel and meet with people from diverse communities across Canada. I’ve learned that despite the diversity and decidedly different assets among the communities, even the small ones like Iqaluit in Nunavut have much in common with larger communities such as London, Ontario or Richmond, BC. Regardless of their size, location and unique assets, many communities are struggling to address the same complex issues.

                               … More Posted on 02-06-15

Silver Lining Learnings

I didn’t exactly start the new year off on the right foot.

I had spent an entire day finetuning a webinar to make the complex topic of marketing and branding less daunting for those working in a community development capacity. Although I had delivered it a number of times previously, it was the one webinar I always felt could be better. This time I was sure I got it right.

The content painted the picture on the top of the puzzle box by providing a clear framework and step by step process, sorted out the complexity by providing clear… More Posted on 01-07-15

According to Pink and the Puppets…..

My son disappeared again.

It’s not really a big deal. After all, he is a fully grown adult and has every right to turn off his phone and ignore texts and emails if he so chooses. But, when he did it again between Christmas and New Year’s, both his grandmother and I grew somewhat concerned. That is until we both remembered that when he has time off from his job he often gets totally focused and immersed in a new creative project.

His last project involved him going off the grid to write, direct, build sets, design lighting, and… More Posted on 01-03-15

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.

This year two such moments got me thinking about teaching in a very different way.

That’s not to say I don’t already think about teaching a great… More Posted on 12-24-14

All About that Boss, ‘Bout that Boss

In many ways it clearly is “bout that boss” and whether or they have earned the respect of others as a leader.

More and more we are seeing an unwillingness to work for someone in a position of authority who hasn’t shifted from a traditional “command and control” model to a form of leadership that is more about sharing power and control.

It is a challenging shift and one that takes courage and heart.

By way of example I often cite what I witnessed several years at a townhall meeting designed to help grow the community by engaging a… More Posted on 12-13-14

Are You a Treasure Seeker or a Trash Collector?

I recently stumbled across a thought-provoking post intended to help teachers cultivate practical optimism in their classrooms. However it became clearer as I read that it contained ideas applicable to every single one of us.

The post was written by Marcus Conyers who, with Donna Wilson, is co-developer of the M.S. and Ed.S. Brain-Based Teaching degree programs at Nova Southeastern University.

The post discussed that until recently optimism was considered to be an unchangeable trait. Now it is understood that optimism is a way of thinking that can be learned and enhanced. Convers and Wilson are developing tools to help… More Posted on 12-11-14

What kind of Workplace Would Make Gumby Happy?

This week I wrote a blog for a government website. To be honest, it made me a bit nervous.

Unlike my typical writing where putting forward my own opinion is a given, in this particular case, I had to apply, pass scrutiny, and be given permission to blog. As a result, I felt a bit of pressure to behave.

Clearly it was not the kind of workplace structure where a Gumby could flex, respond, and innovate.
                                          More Posted on 11-16-14

A Powerful Story that Reminded Me About Gratitude

I am grateful for the many good things that are part of my life. And, while I do my best to reflect an attitude of gratitude, I recently heard a story that truly put everything into perspective.

The story came a few weeks ago from a neurosurgeon I only knew as the result of a breakfast conversation at a B & B where we were both staying.

                                     

It started as the… More Posted on 10-11-14

Does Simplicity Make the Complex Possible?

There is power in simplicity.

While I’d like to take credit for saying that, it actually is a comment a young woman provided as part of the evaluation she completed after taking part in leadership training I helped deliver this week.

I was both proud and grateful that she saw the value of the training and resources we had provided to help participants succeed in their diverse work as community leaders.

The truth is that we have worked extraordinarily hard to reduce the confusion and complexity of community building by providing a clear road map. It hasn’t been easy to… More Posted on 10-05-14

I Have a Thing for Quirky People

I have a thing for quirky people.

You know the ones I mean — the artist who is always late, those like magpies who are continually distracted by the next shiny thing, and the ones who are brilliant yet struggle within the confines of traditional education.

In large part I find them to be incredibly interesting people who stretch my thinking and my learning the most.

While I would describe most of my quirky friends and colleagues as creative, interesting, eccentric, and oddly appealing, there are others who may not share my opinion.

Others might describe these same people… More Posted on 09-08-14

Maybe the Question is the Answer?

I recently received an email from an associate saying how thrilled she was to be part of a group that supports difficult conversations. It was significant to me because it was an acknowledgement of an organizational culture that embraces questions.

Unlike some organizations where questions are seen as complaints or as being disruptive or disrespectful, I like to think we have created a culture that reflects an understanding that asking the right question is often the answer.

Without a culture that encourages questions, it’s virtually impossible to achieve results of any significance because being inquisitive and challenging the status quo… More Posted on 08-29-14

Is Real Innovation More Social Than Technical?

I am a community builder. And, if there is a gene that contributes to being a practical community builder, I definitely received a double dose.

While community building clearly needs both wings and landing gear to fly, I am without a doubt a landing gear kind of woman. So, while I’m always intrigued by new concepts, ideas, and solutions for building communities, my real test for innovation is whether or not something really makes a difference for people.

As a result, for me innovation needs to be about challenging the status quo as well as believing that we… More Posted on 08-25-14

What is Disruptive Technology and Why Should I Care?

It seems everyone these days is talking about innovation or the lack thereof. Although I was never exactly sure what it meant, the latest buzz phrase seems to be “disruptive innovation”.

This past week, amidst the chatter surrounding the pending launch of the new iPhone 6 (anticipated to be a smaller version of the iPad mini), I heard a pundit suggest that while the phone may bring new features, it wasn’t likely to be considered disruptive.

Instead, he explained, it was the first iPhone launched in 2007 that would be considered disruptive technology—not because of its attributes as a… More Posted on 08-21-14

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