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Okay, so you’d like some help and maybe some relief from your pain. You ask, What can Sharpened Focus do to help? What services do we offer?

The short answer is that we lead board retreats, we coach leaders, we speak to groups, and we work on projects.

But let’s break your problem down a little more before we throw an activity—and your money—at it. If you’re in some kind of pain, please keep reading…

We assume that some gap and/or problem exists, or you wouldn’t be inquiring about our work. In some cases it’s a gap of knowledge, such as a board not knowing what its duties and roles are. More often, it’s a problem of human behavior, human interaction, and/or human habit. What will fix a gap in knowledge is not necessarily the same thing that will fix a gap in behavior.

Out of fairness to you, then, before we make a proposal we want to probe a bit and find out more about the gap. We’ll want to talk with you and make sure that you are comfortable that we’ve got a handle on your problem or gap. We’ll discuss what outcomes we’re seeking to achieve. Only then can we generate a proposal.

With the proposal, we’ll look at two major angles:
1. What is the content needed to fill the gap?
2. What process will best fill that gap?

For example, we’re frequently asked to “do board training,” or to produce a board manual. Sometimes, those are appropriate ways to fill the gaps. Often, they’re not. Why is that? Well, with regard to board training, surveys and experience show that board members actually have a built-in resistance to the idea of training. Maybe they hate lectures, maybe they think they know enough already, who knows? (Our retreats are not lectures, by the way.) Plus, we may assume training to mean that knowledge is transmitted and received and the problem goes away.

Board issues tend to be more complex than that. There are times, of course, that board members don’t know their duties or roles. But these gaps in knowledge are only part of the issue. Leaders tend to be visionary and resist role distinctions, and board members are busy and may even prefer to not know the details. Now we’re going beyond the cognitive and into the squishy area of human behavior. Mere “training” won’t fix this, but a skillful board retreat can move you well on the way toward improvement. That’s what we love to do. At the risk of stating the obvious, if our work together doesn’t change anything, why are you spending money on it? We know how to help you get your board to agree to a retreat when they might resist "training," and we know ways that you can afford it. Ask us how.

In sum, then, it’s kind of like having a car and an engine. The activity (retreat, coaching, etc.) is the platform and the content (board duties, habits, troubleshooting, etc.) is the engine. At Sharpened Focus, our main activities are:

Focused Board is a retreat in which we work with the board and CEO to enable the board to reach a higher level of focus, engagement, and effectiveness. It's designed to help an organization’s board understand its responsibilities, become engaged in the proper work, and find the right alignment of roles and personnel. Focused Board is not a training lecture. It is interactive and involves much discussion. We typically bundle a retreat with coaching. The retreat is owned by both the CEO and the board, which produces a more satisfying outcome than having a CEO sic a consultant on the board to "fix" it. For more information on Focused Board, click here.

We use consultative coaching, a blend of technical advice and pure coaching. It's designed to help leaders to gain insight, clarity, and an awakening to their next steps. Coaching may be conveniently conducted over the phone, so close proximity is not a requirement. We'll typically have one or two scheduled sessions per month, plus the Help Desk. Click here for more information.

You may wish other services, such as transition planning, strategic planning, a board manual, etc. Here's what we offer.