I spent the first half of this week at a team retreat in Red Bank, New Jersey. Over the course of three days I had the opportunity to build relationships with a team that I was shocked to find, I only know 50% of! At a company with nearly 500 staff, meeting new people can feel overwhelming – but these retreats with one team at a time have been a real gift. My goal last week was to speak with three co-workers that I didn’t know well – mission accomplished! In fact I went above and beyond and met ten new people. Three of them sit in my office and I can now say hello.
As I reflect on the rest of the week I think that there were three gems of wisdom that I gained:
- Building company culture takes time– and more importantly personal commitment. For many years my work has been focused on building external relationships with major donors and board members. While I still work directly with board members, I also have the opportunity to partner internally with program directors, coordinators and others. Each time I have a positive interaction I can feel myself contributing to building a culture that is collaborative, patience and open-minded. I like to think about it as spreading the light. A smile goes a long way! How committed are you to being a steward of your company culture?
- Knowledge can’t live in a database. One of the challenges I’m working through is how to support lesson sharing between various teams. Separated by geographical distance, different styles and unique mandates teams can find themselves re-creating the wheel. I’ve always thought that if people would simply put the information in a database – it could be retrieved and used to improve efficacy and efficiency. The truth is that no one (or very few people) likes to use a database. I read a paper this week that suggested a new framework for knowledge. Rather than thinking of knowledge as a good, a property that can be transferred via a series of files - the paper suggested a framework for social knowing that is dependent upon relationships. In this case the way to transfer lessons is to improve the connectivity of the in-person/phone/email social network. And yet again it comes back to relationships.
- Non-profit global governance is an underdeveloped field. As our company continues to increase its global impact we need to find ways to govern that growth. I’ve done a lot of research and the best information I can find is specific to corporate boards. With more U.S. non-profits expanding globally –who will lead the pack on this new governance frontier?
That’s all for now – this is the #managementgeek signing off.