February 7, 2016
by randi

Zest up your partnerships: free guide

elevated partnershipsPartnerships are a great way to expand capacity, increase credibility, and strengthen networks. They can provide access to new target audiences and communications channels, not to mention industry insights and subject expertise. So why is it that so many mishandle these relationships?

Establishing new partnerships is like dating, and if you want the relationship to last (or at least not end badly), you should plan your first moves carefully. Be deliberate about what you’re after right from the start. Just in it for a short and sweet weekend campaign? Looking for a steamy strategic alliance? Does your potential partner know what you want and want the same thing?

After years of witnessing collaborative potential slip away, I developed a practical guide to help you distinguish yourself as the leader who knows what it takes to make partnerships work. In this spirit, I offer you Kruse Consulting partnership criteria, developed at the SFU Centre for Dialogue.

A few quick partnership tips:

  • Don’t mislead to get what you want without a thought to what’s best for the other party. People will talk about you, and it will be more and more difficult to initiate meaningful partnerships. What kind of reputation do you want to have?
  • Do your homework before jumping in. Find out about your prospect’s organizational culture and values, and see what others have to say about working with them. Why should you trust them?
  • Coordinate internally to maximize the value of partnerships. Rather than taking a narrow, short-term view, seek out connections where mandates align. How many different ways can you help each other?

When you work with people who see the world differently than you do, you can generate a wide range of solutions to a shared challenge. Truly innovative organizations aren’t doing it alone; they are brilliant because they have combined their greatest strengths with the strengths of others.

Kruse Consulting has successfully negotiated many partnership agreements between some of Canada’s best known organizations such as the David Suzuki Foundation, the NHL, Canadian Living magazine, BC Hydro, University of British Columbia, and many others. Contact us today for support and get the most out of your professional relationships.

December 31, 2015
by randi

Slowing Down in 2016

jan image2The New Year can be intimidating. Everywhere you look, there are stories about starting new activities. This isn’t one of those posts. I’m a big fan of slowing down.

It’s been creeping up on me, this feeling that we have collectively normalized “overwhelm.” Ask any friend or colleague how they are, and you will receive a long list of too-busy proof points. Why have we accepted, and even celebrated, this pace? It doesn’t make us happier, and it certainly doesn’t make us more effective – personally or professionally.

You undoubtedly care about making the world a better place and if you feel like you aren’t doing enough, I can relate. To compensate, we say yes too often and take on more than we should. We hurry the process, rush past insights, miss the subtleties, and these are the very factors for success. When this pattern becomes the norm, it’s nearly impossible to feel successful. Can you identify special moments from a year ago, or was it a blur?

In 2016, practice the art of saying no and give others permission to do the same. After all, busyness is just a bad habit.

You will hear the following requests many times in the months ahead, and it’s up to you to proactively prepare your response:

“I’m heading to a meeting, can I just leave this with you to finish up?”

“I know you suggested further research, but couldn’t we do what we did last year?”

“There’s a great event / online tool / new group – you should check it out.”

To become the talented change agent you were born to be, commit to the following:

  1. Focus on sharing your unique talents. If something falls outside of the scope of your talents, it’s not in anyone’s best interest for you to say yes. Welcome growth, but shed something old if something new begins.
  2. Commit to understanding the full picture, from multiple perspectives, before taking action. It’s the difference between brochures and real engagement.
  3. Allow projects and opportunities to come to an end and to pass you by. Chasing every butterfly will leave you dizzy.

Not sure where to begin? There are talented guides who can help, and if you think your organization needs support, there’s help for that, too. Want to get started right away? Let go of your short-distance drive, and walk instead. The benefits of walking are so numerous, it’s impossible to list them all: connection to community, clean air, composed mind and body are but a few.

Starting new habits is a good thing, but whatever you do, drop at least one bad one. And maybe start with the car.

August 5, 2015
by randi

Summer Love Child Announcement

My latest addition to the world is a feisty character, and people are already drawn to her enormous potential.

Like most babies, she keeps me up at night (I’m so in love that I don’t mind). Unlike most babies, she is only interested in feeding on waste products.

Skis and snowboards, to be specific.

Her name is Ski Heaven.

Each year, thousands of skis and snowboards are sent to the landfill. I believe there is a better way.

Ski Heaven transforms old and unused skis and snowboards into new products. I am looking for partnerships with artists and builders to develop marketable products. All skis, snowboards, and design templates will be provided for free. The top three projects will be pitched at the upcoming Whistler Angel Den event in September with the chance to win $500 cash.

Interested in partnering or purchasing products? Know any creative types who would be thrilled to get involved? Please visit www.skiheaven.ca for more details. 


June 9, 2015
by randi

Big problems are solved through relationship

Picture this:

It’s a hot summer day and we’re celjune blogebrating the start of new adventures. The beach is packed, and we came prepared with toys of all kinds including a stash of cold ones. After a few hours, we happily pile into a car and our buddy says he’s fine to drive us to the next party. We never make it.

Every day in Canada, an average of 4 people are killed and 175 are injured in impairment-related crashes. Fathers, friends, coaches, neighbours. Can you even believe this is still true? After decades of campaigning and heart-wrenching victim reports, why can’t we solve this problem?

We’ve all heard it: Don’t Drink and Drive – the message is clear, this isn’t about complexity being a barrier to change. Tougher regulations have also been imposed, and while the number of crashes has decreased, the rule-makers haven’t solved the problem, either. It’s a good thing that the laws are evolving, and it’s good thing to remind people about those laws. But the fact is that people don’t respond to rules or broadcast messages without higher motivation, and that higher motivation is found in relationship.

It doesn’t matter how many ads are on the radio or how many driving suspensions are issued; if we don’t build responsibility for the health of our communities through stronger relationships, we are stuck in Maslow’s basement – an uninspired place where change is unlikely.

You are responsible for making the world a more peaceful place. Your small actions do matter, and every day you influence people around you through your choices.

My friend Ross once asked me, “What are you passionate about?”

I’m passionate about motivating the motivated to motivate others. About building stronger communities. And I’m starting in my own backyard, where we obviously have some work to do. Drinking and driving isn’t about education or enforcement. It’s about engagement through relationship.

Dedicated to Ross Chafe: you will be missed by so many. Aloha.

April 7, 2015
by randi

Earth Hour – Earth Day – Earth Momentum

Like many, I struggle with the concepbandwagont of Earth Hour, and while we’re at it, Earth Day as well. I have a love-hate relationship with them. On the one hand, I’m proud that my hometown reduced more electricity than any other community in BC (for the second year in a row!), reducing total electricity by more than 7%. On the other hand, I think – so what? These token events can seem to trivialize the revolution that is necessary for our survival. I’ve heard the same said about how pink ribbons insult cancer survivors. And yet. Is there benefit to jumping on the bandwagon?

Bandwagon effect: a phenomenon whereby the rate of belief or behaviour uptake increases more when they have already been adopted by others. As more people come to believe in something, others also “hop on the bandwagon.” Bandwagons have momentum.

Here’s the problem with making activism trendy: the true message gets lost in translation, and important events become more social than purposeful. But here’s the problem when activism isn’t trendy: the message remains intact and no one comes to the party. You know those kinds of parties: the cocktail conversation is intelligent, but there’s not much energy in the room. It feels a little cold and impersonal.

Because that’s what revolutions need, isn’t it? The message needs to get picked up and played with, it needs room to morph through all those messy social processes and yes, lose its original meaning. And maybe in the end, that’s the purpose of international events – for them to represent all of humanity, the full spectrum of our brilliance and madness. Revolutions, as they say, are not quiet events.

So I’ll wear my ribbons and buttons and wave the flag for Earth Day. And I’ll rejoice in how it has evolved from its origin into something much bigger and more democratic. For those of you looking to leap onto the bandwagon, my friends and colleges at SES Consulting are hosting a full day of fun not to be missed. Check out their Earth Work Day schedule and be part of the action!

February 17, 2015
by randi

Creating personas to create connection

Susan - the wipes flusher

Susan – the wipes flusher

If you are in the business of communicating with people, you’ve no doubt heard the advice to “meet people where they are.” Designing effective communications requires an audience centered approach. Narrowing the focus of persuasive promotions will result in tactics that are more likely to influence the choices of our target demographic. I’m sure you segment your audience until you have a well-defined group in mind.

As it turns out, “meeting people where they are” can be much more dynamic. By developing a representative character, or persona, who represents a real person in the target audience, the communications become more creative and engaging. We can be more effective in speaking to people’s hearts as well as their heads. Thank you, Ideo, for this valuable insight.

Ask yourself a few questions:

  • What interests them? What do they care about?
  • When in their day are they most interested in conversation?
  • Who do they trust? What does their social network look like?

I recently used this process with my clients at Metro Vancouver. We’re working together to solve a nasty, and largely invisible, problem: toilet abuse. After considerable research, we now understand that a segment of the population are flushing wipes, which are wreaking havoc on the sewage system and ultimately compromising regional water quality. Gross.

Here’s who we’re after:

Susan lives on her own in a condo. She works at an office and leads a fairly quiet lifestyle. At 50, Susan is watching her money as she thinks ahead to retirement, but likes to treat herself to products that make her feel youthful and pampered. She cares about the environment and her community, but doesn’t seek out extra information about sustainability issues. She’s a quiet conformer.

  • Who does she trust: friends, family, local news
  • Where does she get information: women’s magazines, TV news
  • When is she most likely to be receptive: at the store, at home
  • Why does she care: fear of embarrassment in her shared building

Our communications strategy will be designed to reach Susan, which is far more inspiring than designing to reach the segment she represents: women 45-65 who are in the contemplation/preparation stage of change, living independently in multi-unit residences with an average annual income of $50,000.

So, go ahead and thin-slice your target audience – have fun with it. But whatever you do, test your approach before you hit print!

January 2, 2015
by randi

Hello, Fresh New Start

neutralAfter weeks of ritual and tradition, it always feels good to shake off old ways and gaze with wonder at the all the potential offered in a crisp beginning. I’ve spared myself the torture of a long list of resolutions and have settled on just one: commit to choosing my response.

Perhaps it’s the siren call of Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything. Maybe it’s entering my 40th year on the planet. Regardless of the inspiration, I am determined to improve self-regulation in the face of frustration. In the end, we cannot change those around us, however hard we try. All we can do is change our response to them. This doesn’t mean that people can’t change their behaviour, but it does mean that the motivation to change can’t be forced (anyone who has experienced being “voluntold” to do something knows exactly why this is a problem).

How do we reconcile public apathy in the face of monumental crisis? With steadfast determination to fight for what is right, and compassion for those who defend what is wrong. If we look to the revolutionary leaders of the past, they were successful because they walked this tightrope. Some helpful questions to help you become the change agent you were born to be:

  • What are your goals for the year?
  • Which of your strengths and assets will you tap into to realize your goals?
  • How will you foster your personal well-being to boost your mojo?

This year, I will do everything I can to make the world a better place, and though the revolution to save the planet is not happening quickly enough, I have set a marathon pace for myself and those around me rather than a raging sprint. You can thank me later.

Here’s to making 2015 neutral – in every way.

October 8, 2014
by randi

Give Thanks to the Outlier

appleYou’ve narrowed your problem, you know your target audience, and you’ve removed barriers for action. You’ve even found your team of keeners who are helping you to make the world a better place. Congratulations! You are a public marketing super-star. It’s awfully tempting to shift the spotlight onto the next challenge now, isn’t it?

But let’s just pause for a moment – when was the last time you recognized your keeners? You know who they are. These are the people who were the first to raise their hands when you called for volunteers, and they are as committed to solving the problem as you are. And yes, we all know that the highest form of commitment is giving without expectation of reward (if you’re a parent, you are most certainly living this reality), but even you, fearless change agent, appreciate a pat on the back now and then. Even you like timely feedback that you’re on the right path and that your actions are making a difference.

This Thanksgiving, take time to give thanks to the people in your life who are helping to solve problems you care about – especially when tangible results are difficult to see in the short term. These people are helping to create new, positive norms in society. They are the outliers, and by focusing your attention on them, you not only reinforce their ongoing support, you also get better insights into what it will take to shift the average “up” to their level.  If you understand what makes them tick, you can shape your messages to more effectively motivate engagement.

If you think it’s impossible to prioritize recognition activities in your busy schedule, imagine how much more time it would take to build your roster of keeners all over again, not to mention the loss of credibility your program will suffer. Keeping your team in the loop on how you’re doing towards achieving the big picture goals demonstrates respect for their time investment in the process, it fosters deeper engagement, and it builds organizational accountability. So why does it fall off the radar? Keep it simple and start with a single act of gratitude.

Recognition doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive, but it does need to be genuine. Begin by reflecting on how much progress has been made in solving the problem, and then consider who has helped to remove the barriers. Skip the disposable trinkets and focus your efforts on sharing the impact of the collective efforts. You will be amazed by what a little focused appreciation can do for your team.

And don’t skimp on the chocolate, whatever you do. Even outliers love chocolate.

September 17, 2014
by randi

The Zero Waste Revolution Has Begun



What is Zero Waste? Is it an inspiring call to action or an impossible goal? After spending the day with some of the best and brightest who have dedicated their lives to finding opportunity for profit in pollution, I’ve come away with renewed hope. And here’s the thing: there isn’t time for any other kind of reaction. Guys like Jeremy Rifkin say that we now have less than 100 years to transform our systems though a resource revolution.

And revolutions are never quiet events.

To kick the transformation into high gear, Metro Vancouver bravely opened the process for all to contribute. They did this knowing they would be criticized for considering burning the waste we all produce. But who is really responsible for keeping the incinerator as a concept on paper rather than a construction project? As long as we continue to communicate our compliance with exporting our personal waste to some of the poorest countries in the world, and holding species hostage to our unsustainable lifestyles, it’s tough to rationalize our revulsion to the same unhealthy fate in our own communities.

But let’s be honest: can any of us pretend any more that what happens in small-town China is any less relevant to what’s happening in our own neighbourhoods? Last time I checked, those rivers and oceans flowing across the planet carry along with them tonnes of discarded plastic, and they have no concern for national GDP. If there is plastic in the water in China, there is plastic in the water in Canada.

Ah, the pesky biosphere. Being reminded of our place in nature is always a bit like going to the dentist, isn’t it? A painful reality check. Biologists are inoculated against the shock of our precarious place in the universe because they don’t forget about its significance. But I need to be reminded now and then that there are 30 million species living today, and that they represent about 1% of all the species that have ever lived on the planet. The good news is that these species have 3.8 billion years of research and development on how best to develop efficient systems. We can emulate nature’s genius by following a few principles:

  • Make just what you need.
  • Keep what you have.
  • Turn waste into a resource.

And even if we haven’t been at this for as long, there is one advantage that our species has over others. David Suzuki has been talking about this secret to our success for decades, and while it’s simple, it holds the key to unlock transformation: foresight. The ability to look ahead, predict an undesirable future, and adjust our course to avoid danger.

Get serious about your waste for the same reasons that you visit the dentist. You never know if you’ll live until you’re 90 years old but if you do, your teeth will come in handy. And if you’re still here then, what kind of world do you want to live in?


June 25, 2014
by randi

How to get your people on board

When I was a little girl, my favourite story was “The Little Engine That Could.” I would beg my mom to read it to me over and over again. I was captivated by the idea that believing in your abilities would help you transcend obstacles that others viewed as impossible. Climbing big mountains with a small engine is tough going, and it’s easy to feel discouraged. Good leaders know this, and thThe_Little_Engine_That_Couldey know how to help the people around them climb aboard – even when the destination isn’t clear.

I feel compelled to share leadership stories right now for two reasons: because it is dramatically absent in current provincial politics (no need to elaborate), and because it is widely evident in local and regional politics. I’m a big fan of civic engagement, I like to feel like my leaders are interested in my ideas. And while I believe that talking about your concerns with leaders does influence the outcome, I’m still waiting for a reply to my April letter (did you write one?)

Good leaders are motivated by their quest for shared abundance, and they view contributions from others as beneficial. Effective leaders are curious about the people they are leading, they are driven to understand their needs and to build a shared identity. Poor leaders are stuck in Maslov’s basement, positioning to win their point and competing for limited resources. They’re not much fun to work with. If you know someone like that, keep reading.

Since storytelling is the best way to share information, here are two elegant examples of effective leadership from people I’m privileged to work with right now:

  • Squamish Lillooet Regional District: the project managers took an expansive view to motivating people across 16,310 square kilometres to reduce their garbage. They could have imposed by-laws on their member municipalities, requiring them to reach waste reduction targets they developed behind closed doors. Instead, they embarked on a 12 month committee process to identify shared goals and shared resources. Being inclusive from the very beginning ensures that everyone is on board and feels connected to the success of the project. People laugh during meetings, a good sign that positive relationships are being forged.
  • Resort Municipality of Whistler: the small town that invites the world to play is committed to reducing its community greenhouse gas emissions. Project managers could have developed brochures, and then complained six months later when nothing changed. Instead, they invested time to understand needs of their community so that the resources they develop actually remove barriers and motivate action. People in the community volunteer their time to help, a good sign that they feel valued.

If you are a small engine and your challenge feels like a massive mountain to climb, try sharing the load. There are tremendous resources available to you (hint: they are often found in the people you are trying to influence). The Little Engine That Could believed in herself because of her small size, not in spite of it. Be nimble. Be bold. Above all, try something different if you’re unsatisfied with the results you’ve been getting from your commander-in-chief approach to leadership.

Not sure where to start? Give me a call for a complementary needs assessment.