Continuously Improving the Neighborhood at Work

I am transitioning.  For the past two years, I spent nearly every waking moment focused on earning my MBA in Sustainable Business at the Bainbridge Graduate Institute.  And when I wasn’t in class over the internet or in person at monthly four-day  “intensives” at Islandwood or attending virtual team meetings over Skype, I worked for Community Frameworks, helping organizations throughout the Pacific Northwest fulfill their mission to meet the housing needs of families and communities trying to survive and thrive.

Now that I am equipped with a Sustainable MBA and have more time to pursue my passions, a single question looms large: how can I help?

Bainbridge Graduate Institute is not your typical MBA program, and as a result it attracts atypical MBA candidates.  My classmates inspired me daily for two years, and continue to inspire me with their relentless drive for impact.  As business students, part of that impact refers to financial returns, but what truly motivates BGI graduates is the potential of social, environmental, and purposeful business models to reshape our economy and create vibrant, resilient communities.

As a housing and community developer, my professional background and the timing of completing my MBA studies during this incredibly exciting period in which we live could not be more ideal.  This is an age for synergy.

Mere days after graduating, I journeyed to Spokane, WA for a strategy session with my team at work.  In the course of two brief half-day sessions, I related Porter’s Five Forces, Toyota Kata, and Competition Matrices to the work we’re doing and the challenges many non-profit organizations face.  Today’s sector boundaries are blurred, and competition is abundant if not countered with its more effective companion: collaboration.  Organizations of all types must revisit their assumptions about their mission and ask a few key questions:

  • How is our work influenced by the surrounding environment of other organizations, customers, emerging trends, and a value chain that knows few boundaries?
  • Is the work we do still relevant, and who are our peers?  What other opportunities exist?
  • How can we practice incremental improvement daily, rather than only during retreats?

Wow, I thought. These principles have immediate application to work and to life!

We live in an age where many of our communities’ vital signs have red warning flags, yet we still possess the ingenuity to tackle all of our problems and build bridges to a stronger future by working and learning together.  I recently learned about TimeBanks USA, an organization rethinking our economic system based on principles of reciprocity, harnessing the power of our core household economy, and more accurately valuing a unit of our most precious asset: one hour of our life time. How many community solutions can we create by honoring and banking on the services we can provide for each other in our neighborhoods?

Exciting times indeed.

“Working Stronger Together”, School Garden, Tonkossare, Niger


About MikeG

I am an affordable housing developer and consultant. I build bridges to create compassionate, diverse communities. When we resolve conflicts, we strengthen our understanding of best practices toward collective well-being. I combine the value of inclusion with strategic planning, research skills that develop links from the seemingly unlinkable, and a passion for our interconnected lives to draft plans that succeed (photo by
This entry was posted in Education, Organization Spotlight, Stewardship. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Continuously Improving the Neighborhood at Work

  1. IslandWood says:

    Best of luck on your future endeavors. We are so impressed with the amazing work that BGI students do for our environment and community

  2. Rachel M says:

    Mike, I’m glad you are part of my neighborhood! Thank you for your wisdom. It feeds the work I do!

  3. lindsay says:

    Mike, hey this stuff you’re working on is way cool. Keep it up!

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