Artículos Forbes

Reimagine Success

septiembre 22, 2021

The coronavirus pandemic has altered our world—causing untold suffering and economic damage. As nonprofit leaders, we are struggling to cope within a shifting global landscape, reassessing how to work with communities whose needs have only grown in the past year and a half.

There is no playbook for uncertain times, yet we as leaders cannot wait for the smoke to clear before we act.The new reality demands that we stay limber and vigilant as we adjust the path ways to achieving our organizational goals. That may call for broadening our definition of success and enlisting our teams’ creativity as we adapt to shifting circumstances. In so doing, let us not lose sight of the lessons we’ve learned since COVID-19 first altered our lives.

This crisis has taught us that those measures of success we previously looked to indeed look different today. So, it’s notjust about internal budgets, but internal agility—having the dexterity and processes in place to recognize and adapt to changing environments.

It’s not about state-of-the-art facilities, but a respectful, diverse workplace where employees feel safe and valued. We need to remember that the same qualities that have always driven success—adaptability, ingenuity and resilience—are more important now than ever.

How do we reimagine success? We can start by:

1) Encouraging and celebrating risk-taking: We need to foster an environment where risk-taking is not only encouraged but also celebrated. We have more to gain by leveraging failure than papering over it. A team afraid to take risks is more likely to pursue an ineffective business-as-usual approach. Staff are more likely to tap into their creative potential if failure is perceived as just another step along the road to success.A personal email, a shout-out in a staff newsletter, or some other form of recognition can destigmatize failure and build your staff’s confidence to assess and take calculated risks.

2) Recognizing the small victories: Between 100% success and 100% failure, there are plenty of minor wins. A bill passed that incorporates some—if not all—of the legislative change your organization promotes; shifts in behavior resulting from media campaigns; developing a new partnership with complementary strengths. These are all rungs on the ladder to success and should be recognized as such.

3) Building partnerships for broader impact: Which matters more:the number of partners or the breadth of the partnerships? At Vital Strategies, our partnerships are critical—without our partnerships with communities and civil society, our programs would have far less impact. Take overdose prevention, Vital Strategies’ largest U.S.-based program.We have gone beyond more traditional partnerships with municipal and state governments and established ties with local organizations and affected communities. It is these grassroots connections that help erase stigma and make it easier for people to get the support they need. In Michigan, for example, we partner with an organization working to end the criminalization of Black families and communities of color.

4) Building local capacity and expertise: Communities are ultimately their own agents of change. Building local capacity creates a sense of shared ownership and increases the likelihood that change will be sustainable. Take, for example, Vital Strategies’ STREAM clinical trial, the largest recruited trial for multi drug-resistant TB. A robust program of community engagement—in the form of community advisory boards—is at the heart of STREAM. These boards are widely representative of the communities served, including grass roots organizations, religious leaders, local professional sand people affected by tuberculosis. They serve to bridge communities and researchers, generating local ownership and strengthening community participation.

5) Communicating in an ongoing and consistent way: Internal and external communication are even more essential during times of change, uncertainty and crisis. Communicating openly and frequently with staff, partners and stakeholders helps build relationships that are grounded in trust and mutual respect.

Reimagining success is not about lowering standards or altering goals. It is about searching for the opportunities to be found in uncertainty. The pandemic may have diverted our path, but that doesn’t mean we cannot find new ways of reaching our destination—and pick up some unexpected assets along the way.

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