Moving Mountains in the Fight Against Cancer

What if we were given this mountain to show others it can be moved? "Mountains are reminders that things can be moved. Don't just say mountains can move, believe they can and start pushing." - Bianca Olthoff

Meet Alex Herbig, a “mountain mover” senior nursing student at UT Austin from Fredericksburg, Texas. Whileshadowing nurses at Dell Children’s Hospital, teaching kids to swim, leading church youth group projects, pursuing a nurse practitioner profession, Alex discovered her passion for serving others. As if her schedule wasn’t full enough, she and seventy nine other UT students competitively signed up for the Texas 4000, an 18 month leadership program, culminating in a 70-day bike ride from Austin, Texas to Anchorage, Alaska. 

Prior to the bike ride, Alex had to raise $4,500, cycle 2,000 training miles with her team, volunteer more than 50 hours in the community, and play an active role in planning every aspect of the ride to Alaska by attending weekly meetings and taking leadership positions within the team.

Alex and her team are split into three different cycling routes, the Rockies, Ozarks and Sierra. Alex, as of this publication, is in her 18th day cycling the Rockies route, giving presentations to communities about cancer and how it can be prevented.

Alex possess what Angela Duckworth defines as “grit”. Grit “entails working strenuously toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failure, adversity, and plateaus in progress. The gritty individual approaches achievement as a marathon; his or her advantage is stamina. Whereas disappointment or boredom signals to others that it is time to change trajectory and cut losses, the gritty individual stays the course.”

You can follow and support Alex and her “gritty” team of mountain movers cycling through the Rickies on their way to Anchorage, Alaska at Their summer fundraising goal is $875,000, your tax-deductible donation will go to grants for MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, research at UT Austin and UT Southwestern, and support groups like First Descents, Young Adult Cancer Canada, and Brent’s Place. 


Why DO organizational development?

Christ Stewart Organizational Development

I run across a myriad of reasons to organizations may consider Organizational Development. The wording of these particular reasons was intriguing to me. Here they are:

"Organizational survival" – whether improving basic systems or providing space to understand and address critical transitions, organizations credited OD work with their very survival.

“Being the best we can be” – by improving the quality of their work through human or technical investments, organizations built their credibility and accountability in the eyes of their   constituents and supporters.

"Raising more resources for the mission work" – as organizations strengthened their capacity for evaluation, communication, collaboration and fundraising, they attracted more resources to increase the level and impact of their program work.

“Walking our talk” – by focusing on the values that are the foundation of the mission work, OD led organizations to make a commitment to practice internally what they are seeking to accomplish externally.

"Developing staff and board members so they can improve program results" – by creating an environment where people feel valued and seek continual learning and improvement, staff and board members increased their energy and effectiveness towards the achievement of mission.

Why Culture change might be necessary

Change initiatives are typically put in motion in order to address a business problem or seize a new opportunity.

A culture transformation doesn’t necessarily mean an overhaul of the entire organization. If the goal of the change, for example, is to shift the sales team’s approach from selling to consultative partnering, then the focus will be on changing behaviors within the sales team. If the change is something that affects the entire organization, then the focus of the cultural transformation will be on changing the sum total of everyone’s behaviors.


Some reasons organizations might initiate culture change:


  •  When an organization is faced by a changing marketplace or regulatory environment, or has identified the need for a shift in strategic direction, the implementation of a new technology, or the introduction of new processes, the established culture may impede progress unless it is changed;
  •  Circumstances change – for instance, the organization finds that it is encountering more instances of false or incomplete declarations that require a different attitude;
  • The demographics of the organization change – for instance, the proportion of young people in the work force grows, or a larger percentage of new employees arrive with limited background, requiring new approaches to knowledge transfer;
  • The organization’s objectives change – requiring new skills, processes and attitudes to meet the objectives;
  • New technologies are deployed – requiring new cultural attitudes to realize the benefits;
  • Ingrained attitudes are producing negative outcomes – “What our division does is our business"; “It is better to hoard information than share it”; Attitudes such as these are indicative of a culture in need of change.