Skip to main content

Video: 5 Tips for Navigating Change as a Nonprofit Leader

By June 2, 2022May 4th, 2023No Comments

Change is inevitable, even in the nonprofit sector, which thrives on being ahead of the curve when it comes to supporting causes that are bigger than any one individual or organization.

But change can be hard — it’s uncomfortable and, as we all know, it takes time.

If you find yourself facing a big change as a nonprofit leader, check out the welcome video for the Art of Navigating Change where trainers Romeo Jackson and Viveka Chen share wisdom, reflections, and stories about dealing with complex change.

We’ve pulled together five tips from the video that will you can use to navigate change with ease and success:

  • Ground Yourself 

    Alums of Rockwood programs know we incorporate grounding exercises into all of our trainings. In this video, Romeo leads us through this simple but effective grounding practice you can use at any time to stay focused, self-aware, and present:Slow your breathing, unclench your jaw, and ground yourself by taking ten breaths. Don’t worry about being too formal or trying to go into some deep meditation; just take ten slow, deep breaths to settle yourself.Don’t have time or space to comfortably breathe? No worries, even pausing can be good enough to ground you in a stressful situation.

  • Use The Wheel Of Change 

    The Wheel of Change is a simple model for change management that focuses on more than just getting something done. It’s a framework that can help you create sustainable, people-first change at any level.Here’s an overview of the Wheel Of Change:

    • Hearts & Minds – Our hopes and dreams, thoughts and feelings, what we believe is possible or impossible; the ideas, perceptions and beliefs that shape our experience.
    • Behavior – What we do and don’t do, our choices and habits, the norms and unspoken agreements by which we interact with others.
    • Structures – The external systems in which we live and work: the hierarchies, processes, practices and cultures of our organizations, communities and society. 

For more, download the Wheel Of Change guide here.

  • Identify If The Problem Is “Tame” Or “Wicked” 

    The concept of “tame” and “wicked” problems was first introduced in the 1970s, but has recently grown as a way to address the big, complex, and ongoing problems we’re often dealing with in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors.Tame problems might include creating a budget, writing a grant, buying a home, hiring a new staff person, or having a courageous conversation. They may not be easy problems, but they have concrete, comfortable solutions.Wicked problems, on the other hand, often cannot be addressed with a concrete or known solution, or even just one solution. They’re things like ending white supremacy, stopping climate change, increasing equity within an organization… even parenting.Once you know if your problem is tame or wicked, you’ll be better able to decide what course of action needs to be followed to find the right solution.

  • Include Others In The Process“No one leads alone, and no one ever has.” Not all tame problems can be solved by a single person, but no wicked problem can be solved alone. In order to get to the heart of deep, transformational change, you need to include other people in the process of finding a path forward.Not sure how to identify who should be included? Start with this question: Who would be most impacted by this decision? This could be staff members, the people your serve, even your family or friends.Once you have the answer, invite the people you identified to be part of the initial conversation to build the process, and be open about where and when they can be involved.
  • Ensure Equity Is At The Heart Of The ChangeLast on the list but obviously not least, make sure equity is at the center of whatever change you’re trying to create. The simplest way to do this is to ask yourself this question, which is part of our Art of Navigating Change curriculum: What is the opportunity for advancing equity?Even if your problem isn’t about equity, you still have an opportunity to create a solution that advancing equity. If you’re not sure what that would look like, connect with the other people you’ve included in the process and let them share what they think that could look like.

Are you dealing with a “wicked” problem at your organization and need support to find the right solution?

Apply now for the Art of Navigating Change Online, August 8-9, and learn frameworks and tools that will help you navigate even the most complex change with ease and joy.

Learn More  Apply Now


Rockwood Community Call

Kris Mereigh,  MPH, CWP.

public health and wellness strategist

June 27 | 12 PT / 3 ET