Chris Bosch is a wayfinder for organizations seeking clarity and focus
At seven years of age, Chris could shoot a rifle, hit a target with a high-powered bow and drive a ski-doo with his three younger siblings on board. Living in a 20- by 30-foot cabin with no electricity or running water south of Owen Sound, Ontario, taught Chris life skills that remain with him to this day. “My job was to break the ice on the well to get our daily water,” says Chris.
His Dutch immigrant parents wanted a simpler life, off the grid, but that experiment ended after two years when their roof caught fire and Chris’ mother insisted it was no longer safe to live there.
By the time Chris was 14, his family had moved 16 times. For some, that would be a negative experience, but for Chris, it was all part of the adventure. “I love it. It allows you to experience more, I think,” says Chris.
His deceased father’s philosophy of fearlessly embracing all that life has to offer, while staying grounded in his Christian values, has informed Chris’ approach to all of his pursuits, including his latest venture, chisel consulting, founded in 2018.
His company’s tagline – Clarity and Focus Now – is what Chris sees many organizations grappling with today. “So many people and organizations lack clarity and focus because they have done what they should do and that is to say ‘yes’ to opportunities as they arise,” he says. “The problem with saying ‘yes’ and not calibrating it with your purpose, is that you can lose your ‘why’ among all the ‘whats’.”
Chris explains his mission is helping organizations to get clear about their own mission and purpose so they know what to focus on and when to say ‘no.’ “Non-profits are filled with people who are servant-minded and who say ‘yes’ all the time, sometimes to their detriment,” says Chris. “But you can’t do everything. You have to choose what will serve your purpose, your value proposition, and your constituents the best.”
He uses the analogy of going into a hospital and trying to find your way. “I love this idea of wayfinding for organizations. We’ve all had this experience of coming into a large building like a hospital and wondering, ‘How do I get to my destination?’ You look at the building map for direction and the first thing you look for is where you are now. You need to know where you are now in order to navigate to the place you want to go. Many organizations need help with this, I believe,” says Chris.
Chris works with teams to identify where their organization is today and where they want to go. “I help them figure out their starting point and imagine their destination.” Chris explains that strategy is the process of mapping out the steps and milestones of how to get from here to there while staying true to a unique purpose.
Another common issue Chris sees in non-profits is how best to allocate limited resources. “Leaders so appreciate the sacrificial giving of their donors and they want to make sure they steward those resources wisely. I love helping with that,” he says.
Working with organizations, Chris helps them to discover their own answers and uncover a new self-confidence that “this is who we are, this is what we’re good at and if we go in this direction, this is the best plan and the greatest chance for using our resources for maximum impact.”
Chris loves to teach and offers customized curriculum for what organizations want to learn. With an ability to read a situation quickly, he also provides interim leadership for when a gap needs to be filled. Using tools and methods like design thinking, Chris leads a process that helps energize teams to think differently about particularly sticky challenges. Rounding out his offerings is conflict transformation, which Chris says can result in new value and epiphanies.
Chris lives in Oakville, Ontario and is married to Lydia, a teacher. The couple has two sons, Josiah, 18 and Levi, 17.
Outside of work, Chris is an avid soccer player, a sport he’s played since he was five. He also runs half-marathons, something he started a few years ago after doing a full marathon as part of Team World Vision to raise funds for water in Malawi.
Asked about his unique value proposition, Chris says, “I think I build trust with people very quickly. I love the art of facilitation, asking the right questions, and being curious. I don’t tell the people I work with what to do. They have the answers and they can rediscover their clarity, focus and purpose. My job is to bring it out.”
Chris graduated from Calvin College with a B.A. in International Relations and in 1992, married Lydia, a teacher. After he’d completed a Master’s in International Development at the University of Waterloo, the couple took off for a one-year stint in Guinea, West Africa where Chris worked with indigo cloth dyers on a microenterprise development project. This is where his love and appreciation for diversity and difference began to mature. Returning to Canada, in the early 2000s, Chris and Lydia became parents to Josiah and Levi.
After earning another Master’s in Worldview Studies and Political Theory from the Institute for Christian Studies at the University of Toronto, in 2004, Chris went to work as Director of Research and Education for the Christian Labour Association of Canada. There, he learned that all conflict can be transformed into something beneficial for individuals and organizations, if addressed honestly. “I saw that people really want to get along, but sometimes they need a path to reconciliation illuminated for them,” says Chris.
In 2008, craving a change, Chris took a one-year sabbatical and the family moved to Lithuania, where he taught negotiation in the business school at LCC International University, one of the only English-speaking universities in the Baltic States. He also helped them create an online Master’s program in Teaching English as a Second Language. Chris discovered a gift for teaching and was hooked on integrating it into his professional pursuits.
Back in Mississauga and ready for a new challenge, in 2011, Chris joined World Vision Canada’s (WVC) International Programs Division as Strategy Leader. During this time, he also taught organizational behaviour at Tyndale University College and International Political Economy at Redeemer University College.
In 2013, Chris co-founded a non-profit, Flourish Financial, which raises loan capital from Canadians for lending at lower interest rates to majority-world entrepreneurs. After a trip to Tanzania and Uganda in 2012, Chris realized that one of the key ingredients to job creation in places like East Africa was the lack of reasonably-priced capital for businesses waiting to scale up. He came home and gathered a bunch of like-minded people who wanted to help poor entrepreneurs get the capital they need for more job creation and to alleviate poverty sustainably.
Promoted to Director of Strategy at WVC in 2015, Chris led a major process involving staff at all levels and external stakeholders, to reimagine the NGO’s future. The result was a new five-year organizational strategy, which the President, Michael Messenger, called transformative.
In 2016, Chris and Lydia wanted to expose their sons to life in the developing world, so the Bosch family spent a month travelling in Kenya and Tanzania. They went on safari and visited their sponsored child, Naisheye and her family in Ketumbenie, Tanzania, an experience that Chris says was life-changing for his sons, Josiah and Levi, then 15 and 14.
While at WVC, for four years Chris served on the board of the Canadian Christian Relief and Development Association (CCRDA), an umbrella group of 40 organizations working to alleviate poverty in developing countries.
Chris is also a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE). After directing strategy and operations for WVC’s Philanthropy division for two years, he felt called to share his expertise with other organizations and founded chisel consulting in 2018. His company helps organizations find clarity and focus and reimagine their future.
Contact Chris Bosch at 1-647-289-9307 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.