About the Author

CAREER OVERVIEW

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… More Posted on 06-13-19

I’m Blaming It On The Vision Board

     
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.

Without a doubt this drive… More Posted on 09-17-20

Thinking About Our Community as a Fractal?

         

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.

The poet was Alice Major, who at the time was serving as the City of Edmonton’s first poet laureate. An established poet appointed by City Council, her… More Posted on 06-25-20

Who’s Got Your Back?

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.

Typically a confident teacher, she was definitely not comfortable with her lack of expertise… More Posted on 06-02-20

Distracted by Shiny Objects


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… More 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.).

As a result, everyone of us will need to ensure we have trusted relationships and networks… More Posted on 05-18-20

Say Goodbye to the Heroic Leader

                   

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… More 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… More Posted on 04-27-20

There’s Always Chocolate

                       
If I were a child, I would be distracting myself with a shiny object or handing over a bottle and telling myself it was time for a nap and a diaper change. 

Recent times have been tough and while I haven’t lost my lost my mojo, I definitely lost, or at least misplaced, my normal, fairly resilient, Pollyanna-ish self. Instead, I’ve done more than my share of whining and venting. 

When my kids used to whine,… More Posted on 04-08-20

Mining the Gold of COVID-19

                               

As we got started in one of our Campus community leadership webinars this week, I invited participants to share (1) an example of a silver lining provided by COVID-19 and the resulting physical distancing or (2) what they’re doing to cope with the challenge that is providing a positive impact.

While their sense of humour was clearly intact, some of their comments were also thought-provoking. While the responses were diverse, there were some common… More Posted on 03-29-20

Are You Ready for 2020?

                                   

Planning for the future never used to be so complicated.

Whether you were planning to improve your personal life, an organization, business, or even an entire community, it was simply a matter of figuring out where you currently were, where you wanted to go, and then developing action steps to address the gap in between.

Today, we live in far more complex and fast changing times.

As my future-focused colleague Rick… More Posted on 12-30-19

Measuring What Really Matters

Truth be told, there has been some kicking and screaming over the years in getting me to spend as much time as I do these days in thinking and talking to others about outcomes and measurement.

Mostly, it is the result of my fervent belief that we’re not doing enough to measure what matters most in our communities because we’re so singularly fixated on economic growth rather than our quality of life.

The good news is that leaders from Iceland, Scotland and New Zealand - all women - have… More Posted on 12-14-19

Business Enterprise—It Takes a Village

I can’t remember how we were first introduced, but I can tell you that when we sat down over coffee, I learned Yvonne is an intelligent, energetic woman who is passionate about supporting entrepreneurs. 

At our first meeting she handed me a strangely titled book called Ripples from the Zambezi and suggested I read it if I wanted to know more about the work she was doing with others to support business enterprise.

She went on to explain it was a book written by an Italian named Ernesto Sirolli who… More Posted on 11-26-19

How Not to Be A Future-Ready Leader

                           

Alberta’s newly elected provincial government recently tabled its first budget.

It generated an overwhelmingly negative response from the tech sector who viewed it as being short-sighted and reflective of a lack of regard for the importance of creating jobs for the knowledge economy.

The budget reflected significant funding cuts reducing support and incentive for economic diversification, the tech sector, entrepreneurs, artificial intelligence, and innovation in general. This article via @betakit perhaps explains it best.

However, what is… More Posted on 11-02-19

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