Get Good at Organizational Change (600 x 125 Banner Ad 2013, © 2013, Robert S. Tipton

(copyrighted materials • Robert S. Tipton 2010)

The Falcon Foundation (a Leadership Fable)

Franklin and Jo Falcon's Cabin (Artwork by AC Canales)

The fable is a story about the Falcon Foundation for Families, a fictitious non-profit organization headquartered in Loveland, Colorado, a city of about 65,000 approximately an hour north of Denver. The founder, Franklin Falcon (whose given name of Ferencz Solyom was changed by his parents after they moved to America when he was a boy), is the son of Hungarian immigrants.

After building a lucrative career as a civil engineer, he leveraged much of his personal fortune in an effort to support other immigrant families who had come to America. He felt extraordinarily fortunate and blessed by the opportunities offered to him and his family in America, and he wanted to provide a mechanism to support other families in finding and developing similar opportunities.

Falcon Boardroom (Artwork by AC Canales)

Franklin is a private, passionate man who believes in the best in others but can’t always tell who has his best interests in mind. He also wields tremendous personal power and can make many around him feel intimidated. His optimism, strength of personality, vision, and commitment are all qualities upon which he capitalized in creating his foundation, which historically has a powerful track record in delivering exemplary benefits to countless worthy recipients.

However, Franklin’s strengths are also his weaknesses. After four decades of serving his “kids” (the term of endearment he uses to describe all of the families his foundation has served—he never liked the word “client”; it sounded too clinical, too far removed), his foundation was faltering, teetering on the brink of potential failure. Trusting the wrong people, not inviting feedback, doing things that were not within his core strengths, and substituting “outcome” for “opportunity” caused the Falcon Foundation to find itself in crisis.

The fable continues with the steps, decisions, insights, and heavy lifting needed to not only save the foundation but to move it forward in new, innovative, and sustainable ways. Ultimately, Franklin Falcon and his team of servant leaders amaze themselves with what they are able to accomplish in a matter of just a few days.

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