Design & Align Change Process Q&A

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This document provides information about the Design & Align process, and why we are engaging in it.


Paula Williams | Kairos More To Life Foundation | President, International Board | pwillia8@nullutk.edu

Design & Align Change Process Q&A

1. Why change?

The experience of many More To Life (MTL) students over the past few years has been a series of exposing lifeshocks. These include declining enrollment, financial deficits, conflicts within the trainer body and about the content and format of the MTL Weekend, power struggles, confusion, conflict about governance, lack of transparency, no clear pathway for students and trainer candidates, and student volunteer burnout,  to name a few. The way that many of us addressed the life lessons in those lifeshocks was to realize that something needed to change, or else the organization would likely wither away.

In 2014, a consultant was hired to interview more than 125 MTL students. The results credited MTL courses and trainers with delivering personal and professional benefits that profoundly transform the quality of their lives, but found the organization lacking in many areas, most notably for having poor management, antiquated marketing, and for not having a sustainable business model. The declining enrollments in our courses in recent years, declining revenues, and a lack of alignment within our student body, our trainer body, and our support network as a whole led us to the conclusion that it is simply not sustainable to continue to operate in the same way. 

Although More To Life has existed for nearly 35 years, the organization has never had the widespread acceptance in the general population that it could have. Our almost-exclusive reliance on one-on-one enrollment is in part responsible for declining participation and the sense that we are one of the best-kept secrets in the world.

However, knowing we need to make certain changes does not necessarily ensure we can do so successfully. A particular challenge is that past improvement efforts have repeatedly been thwarted by our inability to align around a shared plan and vision. Our consultant, Edward Groody & Associates, Inc., informs us that this may still be part of our transitioning from Brad Brown’s leadership and old ways of working to a new way of leading and working. We have remained stuck in conflict and inertia rather than thoroughly dealing with difficult issues and disagreements in several areas, particularly governance, leadership, management, and licensing. The consultants say that the challenges we are facing with this transition are not unusual. However, if we do not respond to these lifeshocks, the MTL organization will continue to decline and eventually fade away.

More To Life needed a change process that would provide an opportunity for everyone to participate in creating a new organization. Considering the lack of agreement on many key issues in the organization and our past inability to align around common goals and plans we expected this to be challenging. The change process we have chosen, facilitated by Edward Groody & Associates, will, we believe, provide a way to create the alignment we need to move forward and provide all of us with a greater sense of belonging and belief in the future we will create together. No doubt, not everyone will agree on every issue. The goal is to build a critical mass of students committed to moving forward around a common vision, goals, and plans, informed by experts in organizational effectiveness, marketing, management, etc.

2. What is Design & Align?

Design & Align is a Change Process that was begun by More To Life in October 2014. Its ongoing purpose is to align a critical mass of students around a common vision and plan for the future (including marketing, governance, structure, processes, licensing, communication, etc.) – and to implement those plans. This was a challenging goal, considering our limited resources, the global nature of MTL, and the existing disagreement throughout the organization on many topics. 

The goal was to be as inclusive as possible and provide opportunities for everyone to participate in creating a new organization. Edward Groody conducted more than 125 interviews. Dozens of follow-up conversations, feedback sessions, and meetings were held to analyze results and to problem-solve. A consensus around key issues began to emerge from the interviews. An Organization Design Workshop was held in Banning Mills, Georgia, in April 2015 with representatives from around the world. There, a new draft of a strategic vision (long-term vision, major 2- to 3-year goals, organizational values, proposed structure, proposed staffing, proposed marketing methods, etc.) was developed, based on the interviews and small-group work.

As of 2016, More To Life is engaged in Phase II of the Design & Align change process. Teams have begun forming, and some are diving deeply on key issues and developing action plans to ensure follow-up and success. A few still need leaders and/or members. (See #8 below) All teams have charters defining the scope of their work. Charters are based on consensus that was developed from assessment interviews and the work of the 2015 Organization Design Workshop.

3. What Are More To Life’s strengths?

Edward Groody’s surveys showed that More To Life is a powerful program that offers a set of life-changing courses and opportunities to students. MTL students speak of waking up to unnoticed behaviors and making new choices to live more purposefully and productively. “I am a better teacher . . .” “I am a much more effective manager . . .” “The processes I learned have saved my marriage” are responses students have made after taking the More To Life Weekend.

The Five Practices that we learn in MTL – Noticing, Truth-telling, Choosing, Creating, and Gratitude – support and promote our individual quests for self-mastery. We are guided by a set of Values that set the foundation for aligning our organization and practices. These include Self-Mastery, Partnership, Clarity, Impeccability, Acknowledgement and Celebration, and Stewardship.

More To Life courses are delivered by a group of highly skilled Senior and Associate Trainers.  The Trainers are able to create a safe space for course participants to dig deep within themselves to uncover blind spots and learn to see their true essence.  MTL Trainers are a special group who hold themselves to high standards of behavior so that they can support students to reach their potential.

More To Life’s three Mentor Courses – Power of Self-Esteem, Power of Purpose, and Power of Connection – are among the most powerful experiences available. The courses are taught by trained Mentors, who enroll and offer the courses in small-group settings, often in the Mentor’s home.  These courses are sometimes a student’s first introduction to the benefits More To Life offers. For the most part, the Mentor program has been working well for many years, and through it More To Life has had a presence in more than 20 countries.

More To Life has an amazing resource in the form of a dedicated group of MTL students who contribute countless hours as volunteers, serving on training teams, in leadership roles, supporting other students as process facilitators, and in many other ways. The concept of Mastery of Self in Service means that in the course of serving others, we learn and grow, and ultimately derive great benefits for ourselves in the process.

Those who have spent years and decades practicing the MTL processes and experiencing the transformative work that happens in every training room know the power of this work and see the potential for MTL to have a huge impact in the world.

4. What are the changes?

More To Life is an international, non-profit, training and educational organization that has relied on skilled trainers and a dedicated corps of volunteers to deliver its remarkable courses to the public. This has been an important part of our past, and we expect it to be an essential element for the organization as we move forward. However, we also now need professional, executive leadership to provide effective management, accountability, and continuity. A major priority is to hire an Executive Director to provide leadership and professionalism. Within the next year we will bring on additional staff, including a Director of Training, a Development Director, a Marketing Director, and one or more Program Directors, together with appropriate support staff. Again, the Trainer body and the corps of volunteer MTL students delivering our courses to the public will remain a fundamental part of how we extend our mission. The executive leadership we bring on will make more effective use of our student volunteers.

MTL has relied almost exclusively on personal contacts and word of mouth to enroll our courses. We must shift to new marketing strategies such as digital, inbound, internet marketing to reach a more contemporary audience. The Marketing Team will create and implement a plan to reach an audience of professionals, learner-leaders, and others who can use what they learn in MTL to be more productive and more in touch with the truth of who they are. A New Product and Innovation Team will develop new courses, videos, and products that will offer visitors to our websites opportunities to engage with us in different ways. For example, people visiting the websites will be able to download free articles on coping with loss, divorce, or stress in the workplace as an introduction to More To Life’s processes and materials. Personal contacts and word of mouth are and will continue to be an important part of our enrollment process. That being said, we will find new ways and new tools to highlight testimonials of how impactful MTL has been for many people.

Freeing up the IP (intellectual property) is another strategy that came out of the interviews conducted with More To Life students. The valuable coursework and processes of the More To Life Program have in the past been held tightly to maintain the high quality of the offerings. A plan to allow Trainers, Mentors, and other students to develop new courses and other materials for offerings within the program and within their own businesses will promote entrepreneurism and the spread of the More To Life Program in the world. Our coursework and processes need to continue to be monitored for the highest quality of delivery. Freeing up the IP does not mean lowering the quality of our work, but it will allow others to be licensed to use the work in their own businesses and to create new courses.

5. What will the changed More To Life look like?

Many details are still to be worked out, but some key elements being worked on are:

  • Marketing Plan – internet-based and with broad appeal
  • Freeing up the Intellectual Property – licenses and agreements allowing Trainers, Mentors, and Coaches to be more entrepreneurial
  • Celebrating our International Character – more collaboration and partnership among our countries
  • New Business Model
  • Governance Structure based on RACI principles – Responsibility, Accountability, Consultation, and Informing
  • Communications for a global program

6. How will we get there?

  • The Alignment Conference in Atlanta July 8-10, 2016 is a pivotal event
    • A shared vision of the future will be presented – a Program with wide reach and profound depth
    • We will have input on action plans, on governance structure, operations, fundraising, and other key areas
    • We will build alignment throughout the organization around the vision
  • Dedicated volunteers will practice Mastery in Service – Support Partnerships, Service on Teams, Process Facilitation
  • Paid staff and consultants will perform mission-critical functions – Enrollment, Marketing, Fundraising, Management
  • Grants from Foundations and Charitable contributions will be key

7. What will the change cost?

The major expenses of the new program will be professional staff, marketing, fundraising, new product development, and international events. Preliminary budget estimates show that we will need $1 million per year to run our operation.

It has long been More To Life’s practice to price its courses so that they are affordable to a wide range of people. That practice has made it impossible to fund operations from course revenues. Until and unless our course offerings become profitable, virtually all of our funding will need to come from charitable contributions.

It is our intention that the next three years will provide us with an expanded and dynamic presence across the world that will position us well to deliver a level of excellence that will be internationally recognized and well enrolled.

8. Teams and Working Groups

The planning work is being done by a set of Teams and Working Groups. The table below shows the current status of the teams as of March 2016. Team Leads are shown in bold.

Team Leads and Members (as of March 24, 2016)
Contracting/Licensing & IP Anne Kania (US) – Anne Brown (US), Paula Williams (US), Anne Trusler (SA)
Structure/Governance Ian Forbes (UK) – Lindiwe Ndlela (SA), Jenny Meadows (NZ), Alyson Morley (UK), Kay Bastin (UK)
Communications Valerie Burson (US), Jenny Meadows (NZ) – Peter Lurie (UK), Kay Bastin (UK), Hilary de Kok (SA)
Product Development and Innovation Issy Crocker (UK) – Anne Trusler (SA), Vijay Reddy (SA), Nicci Statham (UK), Anne Brown (US)
Business Plan/ Model Helen McFarlane (UK)David G. Howard (US), Anne Trusler (SA)
CEO Selection Carol Allan (NZ)
Marketing, Sales, & Public Relations Nick Ashill (UAE) (with Peggy Jarrett, US) – Lily Parish (US); Marna Holley (US) and Warren Kahn (US) are resources.
Fundraising & Development Paula Williams (US)
Alignment Conference Planning & Logistics Paula Williams (US) – Alyson Morley (UK), Steb Fisher (AU), Ann McMaster (US), Diana Makens (US), Beth McAlpine (SA)
Conference Enrollment Team (Lead TBD) – Aimee Welton (US/Knx), Sylvia Hebert (US/Hou)
Trainer and Community Alignment Sub-Team: MTL Weekend Design & Core Beliefs  
Documenting Policies & Processes (delayed start probable)

9. How do I get more information?

  • Check the D&A News section on the More To Life website which will be regularly updated with progress reports from teams, and news of the International Alignment Conference.
  • Join a Team by contacting a team leader (see the table above for Team Leader emails).
  • Contact Paula WilliamsKairos More To Life Foundation | President, International Board | pwillia8@nullutk.edu
By | 2017-04-23T12:45:44+00:00 March 27th, 2016|Design & Align Initiative|0 Comments

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