Leap of Reason Updates Archive


Epic Example of Why Performance Matters

The day after Christmas in 2013, a young boy named Emile in the small West African nation of Guinea came down with a high fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. He died two days later. Within a few weeks, Emile’s sister and mother had died as well. By the end of March 2014, scientists at France’s Institut Pasteur determined that the cause was the Zaire species of Ebola, the most lethal virus in the Ebola family. Emile’s illness sparked the largest Ebola outbreak in history, provoking panic all over the world. “Ebola is ‘devouring everything in its path,'” reads a typical headline in The Washington Post. On the frontlines of the fight against Ebola was the nonprofit Last Mile Health. In 2007, co-founders Dr. Raj Panjabi and Dr. Amisha Raja took…


Performance for the Poorest

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the San Francisco-based Mulago Foundation, which supports mostly early-stage organizations on the frontlines of poverty alleviation. We suspect the foundation will let the milestone pass with little or no fanfare. While we admire the foundation’s desire to avoid patting itself on the back, we believe it deserves widespread …


When Matters

On February 8, the Winter Olympics will begin with the delivery of the first stone in a curling competition. During the 18 days of competition, many Olympic records are likely to fall, because the science and technology of sports performance continue to advance rapidly. Yes, even in curling. How cool would it be if we …


The Opposite of Clickbait

We and our Morino Institute colleagues just received an uplifting gift at the end of what has been a very difficult year for us and the country as whole: Leap of Reason just passed the 100,000-copy threshold, which is about 95,000 more than we imagined when we released the book. Granted, Leap of Reason is …


Engaged Compassion

Last month, we shared reflections from a great summer visit in Los Angeles with the Weingart Foundation staff. Here we’ll offer more detail about the empathetic leaders who have guided the foundation’s transformation from risk-averse check-writer to national leader in effective philanthropic practice. Fred Ali, the foundation’s CEO, joined the Jesuit Service Corps in 1972 …


Up and Down the Elevator Five Times

The great story of a foundation’s slow, patient transformation—from a generous corporate citizen to a cutting-edge leader in social equity and effective philanthropic practice—started with an elevator ride. Five times, up and down, to be exact. But after that, …


Gates Schmates

Helping grantees become high-performance organizations isn’t relevant only for foundations with billions of dollars and hundreds of staff members. The UK’s Blagrave Trust is a case in point. It has an endowment of approximately $50 million and only three staff members. And yet Blagrave is punching way above its weight, especially because…


Light After Dark

We cannot in good conscience jump into this newsletter without acknowledging what we’re feeling in the aftermath of Charlottesville: Can this really be happening in America?! Can history really be marching, in jackboots and loafers, in reverse? As an Italian-American whose father and uncles were looked down upon as immigrant trash and a Jewish American whose family tree was chain-sawed by the Holocaust, we’re not naïve about the dark side of human nature. Of course we know nativist fear and loathing are as much a part of America’s story as baseball and apple pie. And yet we’re still shocked that Nazis and Klansmen are goose-stepping out of the shadows with…


Brain + Heart + Ears

Years ago, when we first started writing about what it takes to become a high-performance organization, we tended to emphasize logic and brainpower, as exemplified by our title Leap of Reason. We’ve since gained a deeper appreciation for the essential role of heart. Now, thanks to a group of Leap Ambassadors at the forefront of the “constituent feedback” movement, we’ve come to recognize that the ears are just as essential. In other words, you can’t be a high performer if you don’t listen carefully and systematically to the insights of the people you aspire to serve.


Taking the Leap, Across the Pond

Last month, we shone a bright spotlight on Impetus-PEF, a London-based foundation that is doing a great job of investing in the performance of its grantees. The Impetus-PEF story is so rich with insights that we want to put more meat on the bones here. Impetus-PEF, the product of a 2013 merger of two like-minded …

Page 1 of 9