Gratitude for our fearless leader

Working remotely is nothing new, and at Koné Consulting we use myriad tools to stay connected with one another, so meeting with clients and each other or even taking a break by the virtual water cooler are not only easy and convenient, it adds an element of fun to our work together. A day does not go by without some topic or shared insight via Slack, and our weekly video conferences keep us closely engaged in the work.

That said, I am always grateful for the opportunity to spend time in-person with my colleagues, not the least of which is our fearless leader, Alicia, who always leaves me invigorated and interested in expanding my personal and professional development and world view.

Last Friday was no different. As we headed to the U.S. Small Business Association SCORE Women in Small Business Conference for the greater Seattle area, we easily filled our 40 minutes of drive time with conversation around current events, strategies for upcoming client work, and latest movies watched (Alicia: Hello Privilege, It’s Me, Chelsea on Netflix; me: The Beautiful Fantastic on Amazon Prime) and books read (Alicia: Paper Wife: A Novel by Laila Ibrahim; me: The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey).

A common theme in any conversation with Alicia is the opportunity to do better/be better – that as a business practicing Lean principles and continuous improvement, we are learning and growing together. During our weekly 1:1 meetings, she often asks, “how can I help you this week?”

When there is a way Alicia can help support our learning and growth, personal or professional, she is always on board. (To that end, next week I am attending a non-work related training workshop for working with individuals with disabilities around sexual health, an issue in which I am very invested as the parent of an adult with cognitive disabilities; and I’ve registered for a French language class in preparation for our Travel With Purpose tour to Côte d’Ivoire.)

So it is not surprising that Alicia, who exemplifies servant leadership, is in the .02% of women business owners of management consulting firms, and 10% of women-owned businesses with employees, as shared by the event’s keynote speaker Kay Hirai, “when women earn money, we invest 90% back to our community and family.” For additional statistics, read Alicia’s April 11, 2019 blogpost, “When women succeed, we all benefit,” here.

I know I speak for the entire Koné Consulting team when I say, thank you, Alicia, for your support, wisdom, and entrepreneurial spirit.

- Erika Larimer

Katiola orphanage: Fundraising for fencing

Sekou (left) speaking with some of the children at the orphanage and Father Germaine

Sekou (left) speaking with some of the children at the orphanage and Father Germaine

During a recent blog, we shared about the work of the Katiola Orphanage in Katiola, Côte d’Ivoire (CI), which provides a home and education for children who might otherwise been subject to infanticide due to local village customs.

Many of you have been following our service trip plans to CI this winter and are interested in learning more about supporting our efforts to help the children at the Katiola Orphanage. We’ve learned from Father Germaine their major needs include funds for building a fence to protect their temporary garden and what will eventually become their new facility, as well as donated school supplies and uniforms, and medications.

If you’d like to participate in our fundraising efforts, please consider the following sponsorships:


1 fence post = $18 US (66 posts needed)

1 day of bulldozer rental = $820 (2 days needed)

1 bag of cement = $28 US (32 bags needed)

1 school uniform kit = $30 US (17 kits needed)

1 set of school supplies = $40 US (17 sets needed)

Interested or wanting to learn more? Email to learn more about sponsoring a part of their project. We are communicating with Father Germaine about best methods for accepting donations. We’ll update you on our fundraising progress and plans as this project continues to develop.


2 Spots Remaining! If you’d like to take a more active role in our Travel With Purpose project, you’re welcome to join us on our trip, December 27, 2019 – January 10, 2020. See our website for more details, or consider joining us in 2020/2021.

Our view this week

We recently had the pleasure of facilitating a strategic planning retreat with the University of Washington AIMS Center. In addition to enjoying spending the day with a bright and engaged group of professionals that are passionate about advancing integrated healthcare, we also had a lot of fun co-facilitating with our teaming partner Nancy White.

The retreat was held at the Talaris Conference Center, an 18-acre park-like setting near the University of Washington. Karin is a nature-lover and found the setting to be beautiful and serene, including the Blue Heron enjoying the wildlife pond when she arrived that morning.  


Just as Karin discovered the Talaris Center, she also learned that it would be changing. The campus has been sold to a developer and while some of the existing buildings and park space will remain, most will be demolished to build over 60 single-family homes on large lots that could sell for about $2 million each, according to an article in the Seattle Times.  This got Karin thinking about the amazing potential this space offers if developed sustainably - maintaining green space, and increasing urban density and affordable housing options close to public transit where a diverse community could live, work, play and thrive in this neighborhood.

What’s your view this week?

Snohomish County Developmental Disabilities Advisory Board 

We are pleased to announce Erika Larimer, Associate Consultant, has been appointed to the Snohomish County Developmental Disabilities Advisory Board. Members of the board are tasked with assisting in setting the county’s Community Plan, which includes goals for helping support families and children, and increase access to and options for health care, housing, employment, transportation and education.

Erika has been active in the local disability community, namely around education and advocacy, for the past 16 years, as one of her children has disabilities. She has also provided training on Charting the LifeCourse, a set of person-centered planning tools designed to guide individuals and their families in preparing for and visualizing optimum outcomes at all stages of life.

Congratulations, Erika!

Creative solutions and meaningful consensus

Koné Consulting Express Services

Is your team feeling “stuck”, facing organizational change, or experiencing differing priorities? Or, maybe your team simply needs a tune-up or refresher to help build or revive momentum.


Many of you know us from our long-term projects in the public sector; however, we also offer half- and full-day workshops through our Express Services. We’re available to help your team with anything from a consensus workshop, to more in-depth strategic planning and problem solving using Lean principles.

Workshop tools available include Lean principles for strategic development, methodology from the Institute for Cultural Affairs for consensus building, PuMP, and Liberating Structures - collaborative “disruption” approaches. We incorporate a combination of individual, small group, and larger group work to ensure creative solutions and multiple perspectives are honored.

Give our Koné Consulting Express Services a try! For as little as $4,999 your team will be well on its way toward achieving new goals and implementing lasting change. For more information, visit our Express Services page.

Upcoming Conferences – Let’s Connect!

 Conference season is upon us! Following is where you’ll find us – we’d love to connect with you.

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AASD/NASTA, August 25-28th - Be sure to check out consultant Karin Ellis’s presentation, “Preparing for Re-entry: Enrolling Individuals Leaving the Criminal Justice System into SNAP and Medicaid,” during which panelists will share tested approaches to connecting individuals to benefits prior to release from incarceration, increase the understanding of policy options and implementation issues, and spark ideas to test. The session is on Tuesday, 8/27 at 10:30 am. 

AND: Remember to peek in your conference goody bag for information on our 2020/2021 Travel With Purpose trip to Côte d’Ivoire! 

 Photo: Karin Ellis (center) participates in panel discussion on “Housing – Where Will We All Live?” as part of the Sno-Isle Library Issues That Matter series in Edmonds, WA.

Results WA, October 8-9th - Come by our booth at The Washington State Government Lean Transformation Conference in Tacoma, WA to say hello; mention our blog you’ll be entered for a chance to win a half-day workshop for your group, a $4,995 value!


CI Registration Extended

Join us for an unforgettable experience! Our tour delegation is nearly full with only 2 spaces left for our December 2019 Travel With Purpose trip to Côte d’Ivoire, Africa.  

Departing December 27, 2019, our Service, Learning and Leadership trip is a 14-day insider’s tour of Côte d’Ivoire, featuring traditional villages, historic landmarks and museums, bustling markets, beautiful beaches, flora and fauna, and savory regional cuisine. Roll up your sleeves, partner with locals and learn new skills during our service, learning and leadership workshop benefitting a local service organization during our collaborative community project

  • Enjoy the sights, sounds and flavors of Côte d’Ivoire with expert English-speaking guides

  • Discover the joy of world citizenship and cultural exchange

  • Experience shared learning and leadership alongside Ivoirians

  • Learn about Côte d’Ivoire’s past, present and future

  • Celebrate New Year’s Eve during Abidjan’s epic fireworks festival

  • Make lasting friendships

 To see our itinerary, visit our tour website.

Partner Spotlight: Introducing Nancy White

We invited our team partner, Nancy White, to introduce herself in this week’s blog. We at Koné Consulting look forward to our ongoing projects with Nancy and are so thrilled that we have her as a valuable asset to our team.


If there is learning, community and dark chocolate, count me in. Hi, I'm Nancy White and I'm having fun partnering with Koné Consulting because they seem to love these things as well. I'm a long term free-range consultant. That means my work stretches and peeks around new bends in the road, all the while focusing on helping groups be successful. That may mean straight forward facilitation of events, building self facilitation capacity, or all the way into being a learning and doing partner in the thick of really getting work done. 


I bring a diverse set of group process practices, most recently deeply engaged with Liberating Structures with a twist of graphic facilitation and the application of any group process in a fully warm electronic online context. My practice over the past 20 years has been mostly in the non profit and NGO world, with a lot of work overseas in international development contexts where I realized how much I don't know about the world. Always a learner.

I used to write a LOT about my practice on my blog at but my life these days is also filled with raising granddaughters, gardening, and of course, eating dark chocolate. You can still find a post or two...

Happy to be in the circle!

Nancy White

Spotlight: Orphelinat Sainte Genevieve De Katiola

Some of the children of the orphanage are pictured under the entry sign of St.Genevieve. Photo is courtesy of St. Genevieves Facebook page

Today we are spotlighting one of our Travel with Purpose partners, Orphelinat Sainte Genevieve De Katiola (Katiola Orphanage). This orphanage was founded in September 2011 by Father Germaine Coulibaly Kalahari with one goal in mind: help every child from his tribe in danger of infanticide. Sekou was able to meet Father Germaine on an advance trip to Côte d’Ivoire (CI) last month and got to learn more on how their organization is run. We are so thrilled to have met Father Germaine and the St. Genevieve orphans because from the get-go we wanted to find an organization with which we can establish a long-term relationship.

Father Germaine explains that before founding the orphanage he conducted a survey in the surrounding villages and found that twin children, children with disabilities, and children whose mothers died in childbirth were killed because these particular tribes still practice traditional customs of infanticide and abandonment. Father Germain and Habiba Koné, a social worker for the orphanage, have set up a vigilance committee in different neighborhoods who report cases of child endangerment. Since founding the orphanage in 2011, they have taken in about 40 children. Approximately 20 of the children live on-site in a single-family style home consisting of one boys’ dorm, one girls’ dorm, and Father Germaine’s quarters. In addition, they also have a full time cook and housekeeper. The other 20 children are hosted by families in the surrounding community.

A booth set up at a market selling the orphanage’s goods. Photo is courtesy of St. Genevieves Facebook page

The children at St. Genevieve receive excellent care, including housing, medical care, education and social services. In addition to providing ongoing care for the children, St. Genevieve staff also conduct community outreach and education related to the ongoing practices of infanticide. The village is very supportive of their work and recently donated over an acre of land to St. Genevieve for a larger facility where all the children can live together.

Funding and needs:
The orphanage relies entirely on donations. It is affiliated with the local Catholic archdiocese and Father Germaine is very active in seeking ongoing funding and support. In fact, this August he is leaving for three months to visit Strasbourg, France where he once held a priesthood to seek funding for the construction of their new facility. To supplement donations, St. Genevieve currently farms the land and harvests millet and other grains for sale. They also produce and sell honey, shea butter, and peanut paste.

On this year’s Travel with Purpose trip we are coordinating with our participants on the best strategy for supporting the orphanage. In addition to seeking funding for construction and for barbed-wire fencing to protect their farm, Father Germaine says they are also in need of medical supplies. Our travelers may check two 50-pound bags on flights to CI, and we plan to use one of those bags from each traveler to bring donated items. Stay tuned for updates on how you can help support the orphanage.

We are looking forward to our pilot trip and the many more that are to follow!

Above: A slideshow of some snapshots that Sekou got when he was onsite visiting the orphanage

St. Genevieve also did an interview with RTI, a publicly owned radio and television authority of Côte d'Ivoire. Click here if you’re interested in watching.


Interested in supporting the orphanage in person? We still have TWO seats left on our bus for this year’s 2019-2020 Travel with Purpose to Côte d’Ivoire trip.

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Last day to register for this year’s tour is August 31, 2019
Register here to save your seat


How to waste walk

Learn more here and download this document here

I guided some folks through a waste walk today, so I figured it’d be a good opportunity to share a few words on what they are, and why and how you might want to try one.

First off, waste. As you practice continuous improvement, you’ll - I hope - come to celebrate waste wherever you see it. Wasted effort, mistakes, duplicated work, errors that propagate through our systems - these are all opportunities for improvement.

And walking has its own benefits, too, which to me are closely linked to solitude and producing ideas. Getting up and moving around is important.

Combine the “waste” with the “walk” and you have a waste walk. Simply wander around and look for waste and try to imagine a world where the waste wasn’t there, or how things might be improved if you could get rid of it.

Noticing the waste is the first part, though - so print off a waste walk sheet and spend fifteen minutes doing it. You might be surprised by what you find.

By the way, I often find that different people notice different wastes. That’s great! So this can become a group activity. Take waste walks and compare what you find. Beginners and experienced people will see different things. Outsiders will notice different things than insiders. And any of these wastes are opportunities to start an A3 or other activity to try to make things better by removing the waste entirely, or even making it a little bit less intrusive.

I give Walt Whitman the last word, from his “Song of the Open Road”:

Allons! the road is before us!
It is safe—I have tried it—my own feet have tried it well.
Allons! be not detain’d!
Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and the book on the shelf unopen’d!
Let the tools remain in the workshop! let the money remain unearn’d!
Let the school stand! mind not the cry of the teacher!
Let the preacher preach in his pulpit! let the lawyer plead in the court, and the judge expound the law.

Be well,

Brian Kerr

Our Community: YWCA and ESD

Erika Larimer, Koné Consulting and  Alicia Crank,  YWCA Corporate Relations Officer and  candidate for Edmonds City Council  meet at YWCA’s temporary housing site to exchange donated bags. The site features 28 apartments, a small playground and garden and gives women and their children a safe haven while awaiting permanent housing.

Erika Larimer, Koné Consulting and Alicia Crank, YWCA Corporate Relations Officer and candidate for Edmonds City Council meet at YWCA’s temporary housing site to exchange donated bags. The site features 28 apartments, a small playground and garden and gives women and their children a safe haven while awaiting permanent housing.

We had the pleasure last month of hosting a networking event designed to kick-off summer and bring together women in our community, including those running for our local city council. What a great opportunity to get to know those who are working hard to help shape a future which recognizes everyone’s right to live healthy, safe and equitable lives in our town.

Thanks to our guests generous donations, we were able to donate food and hygiene items to our local food bank as well as over two dozen handbags to our local YWCA for their upcoming Women Rise Career Workshop. Attendees will learn how to take their careers to the next level through resume and interview skills workshops. To learn how to support your local food bank, visit Feeding America. If you are interested in volunteering for YWCA Women Rise Career Workshop, contact Alicia Crank, corporate relations officer, at 206-490-4372 or

In other news, Koné Consulting was recognized at a luncheon for businesses which partner with the Edmonds School District’s job training program for students with disabilities – our annual holiday calendar and card mailing are prepared by students in the Work Experience program. Although the event was designed to thank businesses, we know WE are the ones who benefit from this partnership as the students do an exceptional job!


Our View this Week

Shout out to our Senior Lean Consultant, Brian Kerr, who’s representing Koné Consulting in Colorado this week with his pals from Public Consulting Group and the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing. They’re visiting locations across Colorado to help counties and medical assistance sites improve the services they provide to people across the state (read here for more information).

Brian says, “It’s a pleasure to spend time with folks who do such important work every day, and to take a Lean perspective where every problem is an opportunity to try some improvement.” 

And when he’s not on the job? Brian’s hotel is directly across the street from the Eagles Nest Wilderness area where he was enjoying a walk to take in the beautiful scenery. Take a look!


 What’s your view this week?