About the Author
A passionate community builder, Brenda Herchmer has a diverse background gained in a variety of government, education, business, and community sector settings. A writer, educator, consultant, coach and project manager, she has focused on enhancing the ability of seasoned and aspiring leaders to work collectively to address complex community issues with transformative change. She has specialized in community leadership, adaptive planning, community development, and organizational capacity building. She is the owner of Grassroots Enterprises and the Campus for Communities of the Future (a social enterprise/micro college) where…
Posted on 06-13-19
Moving Beyond COVID-19 One Bite at a Time
In my younger years as a grassroots activist I proudly wore a t-shirt that said, “Think Globally. Act Locally”.
While I knew the slogan was suggesting we all needed to consider the health of the entire planet and to take action in our communities, I’m not sure until now I really understood how I could make the world a priority when local on its own was often so daunting.
As a result, my work instead focused first on community-led development, which ultimately evolved to include systems-thinking, strategic foresight, and digital adoption…
Posted on 06-28-21
Why Red Tape Stifles Innovation and What We Can Do About It
I think I was born practical. As a result I really hate wasting time, money, or energy.
No surprise then that I have very little tolerance for red tape – meaning complex and time-consuming forms and procedures.
While I no longer work for government or a bureaucracy, a number of recent encounters were a reminder of just how darn good they can be in terms of generating it. And the thing is, every centimeter of that red tape was generated by government with the very best of intentions. What makes it…
Posted on 06-22-21
Can the Big Picture Make Things Easier?
Like many others these days, the complexity of the world we live in is wearing me down and I find myself craving simplicity. But, what if instead, the big picture actually made things clearer?
When seeing the Earth from afar for the first time, many astronauts described a cognitive shift in their awareness. Now called the Overview Effect, their experience of seeing the reality of Earth suspended in space with national borders no longer visible, immediately resulted in them understanding the Earth as being tiny and fragile. Along with that came an awareness of…
Posted on 04-22-21
What? There’s a Fourth Sector?
Last week I got a call from a friend who I haven’t heard from in many, many years. As we caught up, it became clear he’s done a fabulous job of developing a business that grew steadily and become very successful. Like me, he’s worked really hard and has taken risks. Whereas his path was relatively straightforward, mine was somewhat different. My track record with employers together with a sometimes painful and lonely climb, was reflected in a sketchy and eclectic employment history in corporations, social profits, education, government, and as the owner of several…
Posted on 03-09-21
What Bill Gates Didn’t Say
Okay, I get that Bill Gates is a smart guy and can provide some pretty astute advice.
For example, in a recent Fast Company article in an excerpt from his new book entitled How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, he presented his case that many of the lessons from the pandemic—and the values and principles that guide our approach to it—apply just as well to climate change.
He summarized these lessons as (1) international cooperation and the need for everyone to work together, (2) letting science guide our efforts, and, (3) solutions that meet the…
Posted on 03-08-21
Finding the Joy
While I like to consider myself one who loves change and embraces trends and early signals, this has been a challenging year to say the least. And yet, could it be there might just be a silver lining?
Last week I made a quick visit to a local mall where shoppers were pretty sparse. As a result, it was a bit of a surprise to hear a hauntingly beautiful version of ‘White Christmas’ being played on what could only be a grand piano.
As Dr. Phil puts it, “You have to name it to claim it.” My own mother has also shared similar advice over the years. advising that sometimes, “You just need to know what you want and put it out to the universe”. After all, she ended up with her soul mate after describing him on her vision board in what turned out to be pretty accurate detail. While I didn’t go that far - I am a very happily married woman after all - I did do a vision board and… More Posted on 10-27-20
Three Paths to Help Conquer the Chaos of Change
I’m having a tough time finding many straightforward workplaces these days. My future-focused leadership 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, directors, 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.
The first time I really understood fractals, it was explained by a poet a number of years ago at a Creative Communities conference. Who would have thought a poet would be the one talking about fractals? And okay I admit it, when I first heard the word fractal I had a flashback math attack because it was such a left-brain kind of concept.
Covid-19 typically has resulted in many working flat out to respond to new challenges. Some are managing, some not so much. Separate conversations with two teachers provided me with a better understanding of why that might be.
The tale of two teachers began with a conversation with one woman who was totally overwhelmed. In addition to being responsible for homeschooling her own two young children, she was now teaching her own grade 7 students online – totally new turf for her.
This week I am so distracted by shiny objects you’d think I was a raccoon.
Maybe it’s the epidemic of overwhelm at work or perhaps the amount of data – COVID-19 and otherwise – that I’m trying to process each day. However, it just seems I’m more and more susceptible to the distractions that are the result of being continuously plugged in.
Too often I find myself chasing the shiny objects to the point where I may be at risk for losing sight of what’s really important. Or, even when I’m…
Posted on 05-21-20
Teaching Nana to Market Car Seats for Cats
Regardless of one’s interests or field, it is extraordinarily challenging these days to stay on top of the onslaught of information and change that is the result of today’s hyper-connectivity.
But, as I was recently reminded by a very smart colleague, we are moving from an Industrial Age based on the principles of physics (cause and effect, linear thinking, etc) to a Connect Age based on biological principles (use of complexity theory, and/both thinking, emergence and evolution, etc.).
Covid-19 just might be teaching us about a new kind of leadership.
A number of years ago while working at Niagara College and planning a leadership retreat, our organizing committee grappled to define what we meant by leadership. While on the surface it appeared to be a relatively straightforward question, the truth is that we initially struggled.
Ultimately though, we did agree that while management is concerned with issues of control relating to efficiency and effectiveness, leadership is required for everything that can’t be…
Posted on 05-01-20
Responding to the Black Swan
A number of years ago while working for a municipality, I was part of a of a task force responsible for putting emergency measures into place across the city. At the time, planning for potentially catastrophic events felt as if it might be a make-work measure. Knowing what we now know, they may actually have been ahead of the curve. In essence, we were working together to build the community’s capacity for what my futurist colleagues would call, a…
Posted on 04-27-20
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