Good To Great Philosophy

"Good to Great" & the development of Great Volunteer-Based Tutor/Mentor Programs

How many of you have read the Jim Collins book titled "Good to Great and the Social Sectors"? If not, you can get a copy from your local library or and read it.

Here are some links to blog articles where the writers summarize this book



Read this Tactical Philanthropy series of articles and reflect on the resources needed to grow from good to great, and to stay great for many years.


See more leadership images like this, with blog articles at []

**I’ve applied Good to Great concepts **in the leadership of the Tutor/Mentor Connection (and before that in my leadership of the Cabrini Connections Tutor/Mentor Program (1993-2011), the Cabrini Green Tutoring Program, Inc (Now Tutoring Chicago) 1990-1992; and the Montgomery Ward/Cabrini Green Tutoring Program, 1975-1990, since 1977 when I learned about Total Quality Management (TQM) while working as an Advertising Manager at Wards.

I was lucky to have many mentors during the early years and one said “If you don’t write you plan on paper, you don’t have a plan.” Thus, every year since then I’ve written the plan, and made an effort to share it with others in the organization who needed to be the people who embraced the plan and made it a reality.

In 1998 I began to put my ideas on the internet in a variety of web sites and this wiki. When people ask for my plan I point to these web sites. This is the plan. By hosting it on-line I can update it more easily than any paper-based document and anyone can spend as much or as little of their own time as the want trying to understand the plan and adopt it to their own uses.

I now share that plan via our web sites with people from around the world.

Since Good to Great is a new way to understand process improvement, I am embracing it. I feel that this strategy can really help leaders of tutor/mentor programs focus their board, volunteers, students and donors on the mission of their organizations rather than just the fund raising.

While I'm no longer leading the Cabrini Connections tutor/mentor program (as of July 2011) I’ve listed what I feel were that program's Hedgehog values. Do you agree with these? Are there others that you might add to the list, or that you feel are more important than these?

I do continue to lead the Tutor/Mentor Connection, although not currently under a non profit tax designation. I formed the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011 to innovate new ways of generating revenue and talent to support the T/MC in Chicago while trying to also help similar intermediaries grow in other cities of the US and the world.

Thus, you can look at these values from the perspective of a single tutor/mentor program, or from the role of a leader responsible for making high quality tutor/mentor programs available throughout a geographic region.

Do these ignite your passions and make you want to sacrifice as much as our soldiers in Iraq to end poverty through mentoring kids to careers? Maybe that’s an extreme example of commitment, but what would it take you to make a sacrifice that is even 10 or 20% of what’s represented by the “ultimate sacrifice”?

This wiki is a shared space. Anyone can and should edit the document to add their own ideas. Overtime this will lead to a shared ownership, which is what is needed to become a great organization.

Dan Bassill
Founder, President Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection, 1992-June 2011
Founder, Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, July 2011

Hedgehog Roles

a) Getting a youth and volunteers is only the start of the tutor/mentor process. A program needs to keep youth involved and connected from when they first connect at least through 12th grade. We've tried to do this for youth living in the Cabrini Green area of Chicago, giving more than 580 youth the opportunity to participate in a comprehensive, long-term tutor/mentor program, which connects them with a diverse base of adult mentors and learning experiences.

If we were not providing this, no one else would be.

Just keeping a non-profit organization like this funded and operating from year to year, is a tremendous accomplishment

b) The Tutor/Mentor Connection maintains a database of non-school tutor/mentor programs and an understanding of where they are located, vs where they are most needed in the Chicago region.

No one else in the Chicago region is providing this type of information, at this level of detail.

No one else (in Chicago or in any other big city) is using maps or internet-based databases the way the T/MC is to draw resources directly to all existing tutor/mentor programs in the geographic region.

If we were not providing this, no one else would be.

c) The T/MC uses the database to invite program leaders and stakeholders to gather on a regular basis for networking/learning and capacity-building activities that benefit ALL programs, not just a few highly visible programs.

If we were not providing this service, no one else would be. (No one else can without building and maintaining the type of database we own). What we are doing is providing a form of community information, which is describe in this white paper by Peter Levine of Tufts University.

d) The T/MC focus is on building strategic involvement and long-term commitment from the business community, which uses company resources (people, dollars, jobs, etc.) to build great programs that PULL kids to careers.

Most others focus on what government, teachers, parents need to do. The T/MC focuses on what business and private sector needs to do because T/MC recognizes that there is not enough government money to fuel the operations of programs like Cabrini Connections in all the places they need to be, and for all of the years they need to grow to be good, then to be great.

e) We use the Internet strategically.

The Cabrini Connections program uses the internet to connect its current students and volunteers to alumni and donors, and to information they can use in their weekly tutoring/mentoring. My vision as leader of a single tutor/mentor program was to create a "learning organization" where a growing percent of members were self-learners drawing from the information aggregated by the Tutor/Mentor Connection part of our organization.

In the volunteer section of the Cabrini Connections web site we hosted a "resources to help you" sub-section. This included links to the volunteer handbook, homework help, and other materials that we hoped all volunteers will read and use as a constant resource. Another sub section focuses on additional web resources to learn from and incorporate in your tutoring, mentoring and advocacy for Cabrini Connections.

This information is what united all stakeholders of Cabrini Connections as a community of purpose. As more of our members read, reflect, discuss and understand this information we aimed to create many owners and many leaders. The program was able to withstand changes in leadership, such as took place in mid 2011, because more of its members were involved in leading the program. Yet, as much as my goal was to create a culture of learning, the time available to learn, and the motivation to spend time learning on a regular basis, were still obstacles to this strategy. We can constantly get better at what we do.

The T/MC uses the Internet to connect the people of Cabrini Connections and over 170 other tutor/mentor programs with each other, and with people and ideas from around the world, and to stimulate the flow of resources directly to t/m programs throughout Chicago.

If T/MC were not doing this, no one else would be (and no one else can unless they maintain a database, and lead a resource building effort)

One of the articles I point to is a pdf from the UCLA Center on Mental Health in Schools. The title is School Engagement, Disengagement, Learning Supports, & School Climate. This focuses on motivation, which is the fuel that drives student learning and aspirations. I encourage volunteers to read this, think about this, discuss it with others, and try to find ways to help Cabrini Connections motivate students, volunteers and leaders to do more each year to help us achieve our mission of helping kids to high school graduation, college, then careers.

f) The T/MC and the Tutor/Mentor Institute are a learning organization. The information we share on these wikis and our web sites is available to any member or supporter. We need to find time to read, reflect and use this information on an on-going basis. This is a lesson I have tried to teach staff, volunteers and partners of Cabrini Connections since we formed in 1993. It's also the core idea we share through the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLCsee web site which was formed in July 2011 after the Board at Cabrini Connections decided to downsize and no-longer support the T/MC strategy.

Leaders, volunteers, students, donors and supporters of programs like Cabrini Connections need to become active network weavers, people who use search engines like Google to find places where other people are offering tutoring/mentoring, or discussing issues related to effective tutoring/mentoring. In these groups members need to participate, sharing information from what they do at their own programs, and providing invitations for people in these groups to use our web sites, or join in the activities that we do.

Dan Bassill founder of Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC does this every day, and if you search Google for Bassill, or ‘tutor mentor’ you will find numerous places where he is actively networking. Each person in a tutor/mentor program and a tutor/mentor community should set a personal goal to be active in 5-10 places each month, over the course of a year. If 50 people are doing what Dan does, we can dramatically increase the influence of the ideas we all share, and the number of people who are helping us achieve our mission.

g) Cabrini Connections and the Tutor/Mentor Connection have more than 35 years of knowledge about how to involve volunteers in a non-school tutor/mentor program, along with the accumulated knowledge of hundreds of other people and organizations, and we use this to

1. help parents, teachers, social workers, volunteers, donors, etc. find existing tutor/mentor programs near where they live/work

2. help individual programs grow from Good to Great, while helping new programs fill voids

3. help networks like T/MC grow in other cities and in other social service sectors (which network with the Chicago T/MC in a shared effort of helping programs grow from good to great)

h) The T/MC has innovated a knowledge-based innovation and networking process that can be applied by people in other cities, or in any other social benefit sector.

i) The T/MC has piloted innovative network-building tools using maps, graphics, video, animation and interactive on-line databases. These can be applied in other cities for the same purpose as we use them in Chicago, or in other social benefit sectors.

Few other organizations in the country can claim this many years of continuous learning and application of knowledge to build and sustain a volunteer based tutor/mentor program.

However, Cabrini Connections and the Tutor/Mentor Connection were not able to communicate these ideas effectively to enough people and were not able to build the leadership team and organizational strength to be able to expand the organization's influence and fully develop and share these ideas. That will be the goal of Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC over the next five to ten years.

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