We had the good fortune of connecting with Adam Kogeman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Adam, how does your business help the community or world?
In the absence of a government that works in service to all people, it’s nonprofits on the front lines of building a more equitable society and protecting the natural world. Good Bones helps nonprofits run efficiently and sustainably so they can maximize their impact on communities they serve. Most nonprofits can’t justify or afford in-house operations staff focused on things like process improvement or increasing ROI. We partner with them to build lasting, effective operational infrastructure – the tools, systems, processes and standards that get things done – so they can scale and spend more on the things that matter. What we aim to provide nonprofits, ultimately, is the power and freedom to invest more resources in direct impact work, as they see fit.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
At Good Bones, we’re obsessed with efficiency and excited to meet a pressing need in the nonprofit sector. As nonprofit professionals, we’re all too familiar with the struggles of being under-resourced and chronic underinvestment in internal operations out of a practical need to prioritize direct impact work. The issues many nonprofits address – homelessness, climate change, inequality – are urgent and very few can focus on building a perfect infrastructure or fixing every leaky pipe. Unfortunately, this eventually limits an organization’s effectiveness and/or ability to grow. Good Bones is focused on strategic operations and efficiency precisely because we saw the need firsthand. It’s also work that we love! We take the concept of “good bones” seriously. We want the operational infrastructure we put in place to endure and work so well after we leave that we don’t have to come back. So there are a few things we place a premium on. The first is open communication. We believe actual change requires being transparent and direct – that you can’t solve issues you don’t talk about openly. The second is focus. Our clients are busy and have critical work to do. We don’t waste their time and energy over-intellectualizing things or with unnecessarily complex processes and products. And the third is the human connection. We never forget that we are people helping people change the world. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, practice empathy and prioritize cultivating a fun, trusting dynamic with our clients. Another thing that sets us apart for our nonprofit clients is that we are mission-minded products of their world. That’s less common for consultants who focus specifically on operations. We’ve done it (almost) all at nonprofits, from providing direct services to leading strategic initiatives. We understand, intimately, what it means to put mission first and run an organization filled with intrinsically motivated people.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
A lot of people come to LA with impressions based on the over-representation of certain local areas and lifestyles in the media. I like visitors to experience the full richness of our diversity (mostly through food) and to get a more complete and honest picture of local life and history. So I might take them to trendy spots in the Arts District – say fries at Wurstkuche and high-end ice cream at Salt & Straw – then head home through Skid Row to highlight the deep, shocking inequality that exists just around the corner from our hippest neighborhoods. Skid Row is an extreme case, but to me the contrast you see in just a few blocks downtown embodies the LA I know: islands of prosperity and comfort in a sea of hardship and unrealized potential. The inequality here is maddening and deserves attention. I don’t want visitors to leave thinking we’re just the islands. I also love showing off Northeast LA. In my Cypress Park neighborhood, we’d walk to the incredible Restaurante Tierra Caliente for pozole and hand-made tortillas then work off lunch on a hike up Mt. Washington for stunning views of the city. Later, we’d stroll along the LA River (it exists! – another shock for many out-of-towners) and grab mole fries, tacos and micheladas at Cacao Mexicatessen in Eagle Rock for dinner. My most typical weekend days involve food in the San Gabriel Valley and a day at one of the gardens nearby. So we’d enjoy delicious Taiwanese breakfast at Huge Tree Pastry in Monterey Park before taking in the beautiful Huntington Gardens. Or perfectly chewy Indonesian noodles at Borneo Kalimantan Cuisine in Alhambra paired with Arlington Garden in Pasadena, a gorgeous, calming oasis and inspiring product of community-minded vision.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
We’re grateful for veteran local nonprofit consultants – including Elizabeth Sadlon, Gail Meltzer, Julie Ha Truong and Annette Ricchiazzi – who have been nothing but encouraging and supportive of our new business. Good Bones couldn’t have gotten where it is without their expert advice, openness, and the resources and connections they’ve shared. Thank you!
Rachael Humphries Southern California Leadership Network Cynthia Ess Adam Kogeman