Oh My Heart
Through sunny valley
A curious heart listens
In spite of the bear
-- A haiku written by @kyrakaz in collaboration with a haiku generator
My 100-day listening tour has come to a close and--oh my heart--was it rich in reunions; new information and insights; actionable recommendations; and, above all, hard-working, compassionate people. Jesse Owens said, “Find the good. It’s all around you. Find it, showcase it and you’ll start believing in it.”
I came away with a head full of ideas, purpose, and belief in the good. Also, a gut full of coffee and almond milk. But, more importantly, this time of listening has magnified my commitment to co-design SVCN’s future in partnership with our wonderful, growing alliance of nonprofits. And by co-design, I mean opening up decision-making processes and bringing more ideas and more perspectives authentically to the table. One of the next--but far from only--steps that you’ll see towards this approach is an online survey that I will be personally lobbying you to complete!
During these first 100 days, SVCN’s staff and board put the spirit of co-design in practice by developing, in an inclusive way, our six-month OKRs. We had a fantastic facilitator who helped us honor and incorporate the voices of our staff and board during a two-day off-site meeting. Netflix deserves a shout-out for providing comfortable meeting space, delicious food, and kombucha on tap, all of which help A LOT when you’re going through an intense planning process and managing change!
Hold up! What are OKRs, you say? I thought you’d never ask. OKR is short for objectives and key results. An objective is an overarching goal and key results are the metrics used to determine if and how the goal was achieved. Each person in the organization can select up to 5 objectives every quarter and the organization can also only have 5. Each quarter, progress is measured by the team and adjustments are made, ideally in a non-judgmental way. OKRs are divorced from performance reviews.
OKRs were invented at Intel Corporation and famously perfected at Google. AND ALSO Bono’s charity, the ONE Foundation (which has the modest mission of “changing the world”) uses OKRs to set and measure goals. Hey, if OKRs are good enough for a literal rock star! But seriously, the SVCN team decided that there was a match between SVCN’s culture and the OKR model’s emphasis on consensus-driven direction, alignment of goals, accountability, a clear way to measure whether or not goals were achieved, and--perhaps most importantly for mission-driven folks whose work never seems to end--a framework that would allow us to stop and celebrate our “wins.”
In the spirit of accountability and transparency, these are the enterprise objectives SVCN is seeking to accomplish through the end of January:
Objective 1: Demonstrate financial stability to SVCN’s Board of Directors.
Objective 2: Finalize a sector-involved strategic plan (embedding a strong diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy) and organizational rebrand.
Objective 3: Finalize a strategic training framework/business plan (again, including a strong DEI component) that is responsive to member needs
Objective 4: Demonstrate to members and potential members the value of SVCN membership
Objective 5: Demonstrate the integrity, credibility, and transparency of SVCN
Wow, that’s a lot by February, right? These objectives and each team members’ objectives quite intentionally include some Big Hairy Audacious Goals (a term coined by Jim Collins in Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies). As Bruce Lee said, “A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.”
In order to make sure SVCN has the best shot at achieving our big, hairy, audacious goals, we’ve re-oriented some of the roles in the organization. I’m excited to announce these changes.
I’m very pleased to share that Wendy Ho (firstname.lastname@example.org) has been promoted to Chief Strategy and Policy Officer. This new role reflects her leadership in organizational strategy, planning, and sustainability, as well as the incredibly high-value contribution she brought to her previous role as policy director. Her insight and leadership have been indispensable to me in my transition. Alexa Nolder (email@example.com) has been promoted to Operations Manager, reflecting her role as shepherd of SVCN’s investment into upgrading and formalizing some of our back-office functions. Jenn Torai’s title has changed to Director of Learning and Member Engagement (firstname.lastname@example.org), integrating member outreach into her current role as training director, as well as bringing a more results-oriented approach (learning!) to the training program. Victoria Ramirez, our Director of Marketing and Communications (email@example.com), will be leading our re-brand strategy and the website re-launch that soon will provide new and robust resources for our members.
One last thing and then I’ll let you get back to the rest of your unreasonable email inbox.
Even though the first 100 days are over, I still want to learn and listen--so please don’t stop inviting me in. Also, pssst, I really need more t-shirts for my nonprofit t-shirt Fridays.
Chief Executive Officer
Reading on OKRs:
Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs
OKRs for Nonprofits: What Are Some Examples?
OKRs for Social Change: Accountability & A Larger Vision
Startup OKRs Template
Reading on Chief Strategy Officers:
Chief Strategy Officer - Wikipedia
Stop Reacting and Start Planning Ahead: Why Your Nonprofit May Need a Chief Strategy Officer
The Chief Strategy Officer
“Oh My Heart,” R.E.M.
R.E.M. - Oh My Heart (Official Music Video)