Jim Canales Interview Notes

A lot of people have been asking for more background on my interview guests. So today I’m creating a new feature. Interview Notes will published two days before an interview is posted. I’ll include a brief write up in my own words, as well as a list of links for listeners who want to learn more. I’d also like to encourage readers to provide their own background notes via posting links in the Comments section.

On Wednesday, we’ll hear from Jim Canales, CEO of the James Irvine Foundation. Jim was one of the panelists at the Demonstrating Impact session at the Council on Foundations conference in Seattle this year (you can read my write-ups here and here). The Irvine Foundation recently released a report called Midcourse Corrections (I wrote about it briefly here). After committing to a $60 million initiative, the biggest in their history, the Irvine Foundation realized that all was not going as planned. They released the Midcourse Corrections report to help other foundations avoid the mistakes they made. This is exactly the sort of knowledge sharing that I’ve been advocating.

Irvine must have a bit of a masochistic streak, or else they just really care deeply about their mission and refuse to let their egos get in the way. Right now, the front page of their website features links to anonymous feedback they’ve received from their grantees. Although the feedback was mostly positive, they point out the power imbalance between them and their grantees and focused on relative feedback scores to try to dig out any lessons they could learn. They’re now considering a number of changes to how they interact with grantees and have committed to implement any agreed upon changes by the end of 2007.

Jim will be fielding questions and comments following the podcast release.