What is your growing edge?

I often ask this question to bring a personal, living focus to the learning process. Some people in hearing this question intuitively know what is being asked. If you are not among them, and are perhaps perplexed by the question, let me explain.

Each of us is in some way working to expand our capacities — its part of being alive!   We may be improving task-related skills, cultivating interpersonal or character strengths, gaining ability in a creative medium for personal fulfillment, increasing our health and fitness, or pursuing growth in some other way.

Typically we are driven to grow in several different areas at once, but at any given time one area is getting most of our attention. The question about your growing edge seeks to identify: What is most vibrant or alive for you at this moment?  This question is typically asked of an individual, but insightful leaders bring the question to their organizations also.

Once I asked this question of a young teacher who had applied for a job. She initially laughed nervously, unsure about how to impress me — as a potential employer — with her answer.  Yet she caught herself in that line of thinking, processed the question a bit more, and suddenly looked directly at me. “That’s a really excellent question,” she said, and went on to talk openly about the challenge of finding a job that not only used her skills but was truly connected with her sense of purpose in life. In identifying her growing edge, our interaction suddenly moved from formal to authentic.

Daniel facilitates a planning & visioning retreat with 35 professionals from around the Salish Sea region.

Educational Design Associates is dedicated to that growing edge and that authenticity, both in individuals and in organizations.

Like individuals, each nonprofit agency, school, faith organization, or other group has a growing edge. Occasionally this edge is reflected in a strategic plan that is collaboratively generated and actually used to guide action. More often, the edge is less clearly defined and not widely understood. Appropriately managing their growing edge is how healthy organizations transform themselves and move to new levels of capacity. Failure by directors, trustees, and lead administrators to attend to the growing edge can be limiting or at certain times, catastrophic.

It is worth mentioning that our world is at a time of dramatic change.  Increasingly leaders face circumstances that are referred to as VUCA — volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous.  To be effective in such a chaotic time requires highly effective relationships and rigorous focus on key priorities.

Especially given the mess our world is in, we need to be at our best.  Understanding that each individual is a growing, evolving person, and that each organization is a developing web of human and material resources, is a good start. Educational Design Associates serves the growing edge in both individuals and groups.

You will find that transformative change is possible through intentionally crafted needs identification, process facilitation, program development, and trainings. Taking your work to the next level is our specialty and our passion!

— Daniel Kirkpatrick, Lead Designer, Educational Design Associates

helping us advance our mission

We are very grateful for your support of our organization and all the ways you have helped us advance our mission to increase community capacity for long term ecological research. Thank you so much for all that you have put into helping us grow this vision.

Interdisciplinary Research Institute Board Leader HC ·
British Columbia

listening with his full attention

I am grateful to Daniel for listening with his full attention. His advice and response to my questions concerning board governance and conflict resolution were thoughtful and clear. Advice that applies to a very a specific situation also applies to other areas of work and life in a deep and meaningful way.

Nonprofit Board of Directors Leader LM · 2018
British Columbia

expertise and knowledge proved invaluable

Daniel’s suggestions helped me to gain a deeper understanding of the motivations and concerns that drive decision-making in the world of education. His expertise and knowledge proved invaluable in my outreach efforts! Daniel is a resource I would happily recommend to those in need.

Museum Community Access Specialist DV · 

helping our organization thrive

You know, probably better than most, what goes into a thoughtful curriculum, mentor training, and behavior management before the magic of learning can happen. Thank you for all the support you have provided over the years through your wise counsel that helped our organization thrive!

Environmental Education Program Manager RB · 

superb workshop presentation on communication tools

On behalf of our organization, thank you for your superb workshop presentation on Communication Tools for our member development institute. Your engaging and thoughtful activities were an excellent part of the training for our members.

Youth Action Agency Education Coordinator EW · 

energetic, and very organized

Mr. Kirkpatrick’s presentation was excellent. He was fun to listen to, energetic, and very organized. I really appreciated the fact that he was adaptable to our time frame and adjusted well to our agenda. I would highly recommend him to work with your staff or students.

Substance Abuse Prevention Volunteer Coordinator LS · 
Mt. Vernon

already seen a dramatic change

I want to thank you for all your expert help in teaching my staff of seventeen people how to work better as a team. Having them define the action of what qualities a team member must show gave them a goal to reach. I have already seen a dramatic change in the attitudes of my staff around the workplace. After talking with you I too have learned a lot about communicating.

County Public Awareness Staff Supervisor DB ·


Daniel (along with partner Lisa) receives a recognition award after two weeks of teaching English to low-income Indonesian youth.