News & Insights
Beyond Strategy and Vision: Let’s Create Opportunity
By Gregg S. Johnson, board member, Global Partnerships
As we approach our 20th anniversary in 2014, we’re beginning to craft our vision for the future as a nonprofit impact investor. Recently, I’ve been fortunate enough to participate in several strategic planning sessions at Global Partnerships (GP). It’s a delight to work with my fellow board members and the GP team as we consider all facets of our work, think about bold ideas and wrestle with the strategic choices before us. We’re using a three-pronged approach to inform where we’re headed and where we want to go. Simply stated, we:
1. LOOK: Our vision must be informed by looking at the broader landscape and context of the world around us. Global development is constantly being shaped by forces and trends that influence the solutions we pursue and goals that we set. From climate change to the role of information communications technologies (ICT), to the maturation of microfinance as a viable and readily capitalized channel we must understand the effects these forces and trends have on the direction we’re headed and the role we wish to play as leaders.
2. LISTEN: We listen to industry thought leaders, but most importantly we listen to the people that have the closest relationships with the people we serve: our partners. Our teams in Managua and Seattle gather information, insights and knowledge about the needs, challenges and conditions that impact our partners and the borrowers they serve. Listening to what our partners tell us, we’re able to understand and co-create solutions that we can then invest in for testing, sustaining or scaling up. We also talk to our peers and other leaders in the space; drawing wisdom from their years of experience. We don’t want to reinvent anything. We just want to reflect and refine in order to achieve our collective goal of creating opportunity for people living in poverty.
3. LEARN: We’ve learned a lot over the past 20 years. We’ve learned that integrated services coupled with access to capital and delivered through existing channels like microfinance organizations and cooperatives can have a deeper, longer-lasting impact. We’ve learned that grant capital is needed to catalyze innovative, market-sustained solutions. And that taking risks is easier said than done. Some will join us on the journey and others will not. We’re learning about that, too.
I can’t help but get excited at the amazing work we’ve done, but I’m even more excited about the new opportunities before us. Looking, listening and learning is embedded in our work and helps us improve and continually strive to become a better organization. It’s not easy work and it takes time. But at the end of the day, our goal is to create opportunity no matter how hard it is or how long it takes. As the authors of a recent Stanford Social Innovation Review article say:
In the coming few months, we’ll be finalizing our strategic plan and vision for the future. We look forward to sharing it with you so, be sure to watch this space and if you haven’t already, please subscribe to our blog. Sharing and staying informed of our work is a great way to help make a difference.