Unexpected Business

One thing I’ve learned about start-ups and bureaucracies is that progress isn’t linear and that plans, as General Eisenhower said, are worthless.  On the other hand, planning is everything.  Why?  Because planning — a continuous process — can quickly take into account the unexpected.

Initially, I wanted CFL to expand in the way described below, but gave up hope.  Not recommended.

To review, here’s our business described in terms of Sinek’s “Golden Circle:”

start with why

CFL co-creates work experiences.  That matter.

Why?  To help students discern their gifts and calling from a Christian perspective, prepare for internships and jobs, and transition out of college.

How?  What makes CFL unique is that our programs are interdisciplinary, both academic and co-curricular, and community-oriented: they employ students and put them on working teams with experienced practitioners with proven track records — clients, coaches, mentors, and subject matter experts — and leverage Hope’s resources to enhance its world class liberal arts education.

What?  CFL is focused on enhancing and expanding two programs:

  • CFL Consulting, employing students and putting them on teams with practitioners to help for-profit, not-for-profit, and social enterprise organizations understand and solve problems.
  • CFL Incubator, employing students and putting them into cohorts with practitioners to develop their own for-profit, not-for-profit, and social enterprise business ideas.

Outputs: Student Learning

When students are given responsibility for decisions that matter, they take responsibility for their own learning.  They help clients, get jobs, and create businesses.   They also go to unexpected places — who could have guessed that Hope students would be featured in The New York Times, Good Morning America, The Today Show, etc?  Our students teach us.  We learn our role is to diverge and converge their curiosity by asking questions, not giving answers.  Douglas McGregor, an MIT management professor and Eisenhower contemporary, was right: assumptions about people matter.

human side of enterprise

Max DePree is also right: leadership is something that is learned over time through experience, not simply by reading books.  And teaching is like being in a jazz band!  Students shine in the spotlight at different times.  And they bring the community’s attention to us.

Leadership Jazz

Inputs: Student-Centered, Community-Engaged, Project-based Learning

One our student project leaders, Michael Savage, presented us with ideas to make our CFL Consulting business stronger.  So we hired him as our first Student Director.

Michael Savage

Our new home in Van Zoeren Hall, proximity to the Center for Ministry Studies, Computer Science, and Engineering, and our strategic partnership with Hope’s Economics and Business Department is already paying dividends.  More exposure.  More support.  More opportunities.  More ideas.   And the fall semester hasn’t even started!

So what is our Unexpected Business?

We are now helping others — individuals and both small and large organizations explore, validate, and develop their own start-up ideas — a synthesis of CFL Consulting (the model) and CFL Incubator (the method).  We see this as another value-added opportunity for students to discover their God-given gifts and to grow in confidence and understanding of who and whose they are.  It may become the pinnacle of a triangle, with Incubating Ideas for Others on the top and CFL Consulting and CFL Incubator as the foundation.  This is unexpected business, but within our passion, resource engine, and developing core competency, and perfectly logical given our journey!

Good to Great

So now we are co-creating three types of work experiences that matter:

  • helping clients understand and solve organizational and societal problems
  • helping students develop and test their for-profit, not-for-profit, and social enterprise business ideas
  • helping clients develop and test their initiatives


To God be the glory!



Co-creating work experiences.  That matter.

41 Graves Place, VanZoeren Hall 182

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