Uncommon Clarity® Through the Eyes of Others – Colin Van Dyke

By working with Ann Latham, Zoo New England developed a strong and focused strategy. Its strength has been confirmed by everyone we have talked with – the entire board, the staff, donors, and people in the community. It enables us to tell a compelling and convincing story instead of reciting a litany of disparate and competing values directed in too many directions and at too many constituencies.

Almost as important, is our new level of consensus and confidence as a board. Ann has given us the ability to make decisions and not wring our hands over too many choices. We have clarity – one plan, cohesiveness, and can use a shared vocabulary to forecast the future and communicate consistently with donors, members, partners, and the public. We are delighted to have achieved such strong alignment as well as an ambitious, credible strategy. In addition, we now have a more complete understanding of the organization’s strengths and weaknesses and how they relate to our vision and focus.

All the consultants we considered had good references and good experience, but we chose Ann because we believed she would hold us accountable for what we wanted, and needed, to achieve, even if it made us uncomfortable. We were right. She forced us to have honest conversations, make tough choices, and reach agreement about what is most important.

I think what makes Ann most unusual is her level of commitment to us. She was in it with us, willing to take fire. She was completely dedicated to getting results, not just to following her process. Someone less committed to clear outcomes probably would have let us off the hook when we most needed to be pushed.

Ann is not just a facilitator. We got advice, ideas, recommendations, and food for thought. She was a resource for us in thinking through how we could maximize our value and potential as an organization. Ann never told us what we had to do. She never said “here is the answer,” but she gave everyone a voice and challenged our thinking. Her process unpacks the multitude of ideas and distills the headlines. She probes for the real value and the real issues. This freed us from the constraints of our various assumptions and preconceptions. She freed us to make smart, concrete choices.

Oh, and she is nice too!

I recommend Ann with great enthusiasm. If you are committed to honest self-assessment and eager to improve, and not just going through the motions, I believe you will get tremendous results from working with her.

Colin Van Dyke, Vice Chair, Zoo New England, and Attorney, Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.