Women for Women International

Women for Women International was in the midst of change: A new CEO, process revisions for planning, budgeting, grant development and management, along with a fresh look at programs to ensure they address organizational mission and emerging needs. The upcoming three-day annual meeting of Country Directors from eight nations and Headquarters (DC) staff could help align key leaders of the organization and boost their willingness to champion and implement change. Yet the proposed shift to Results Based Management (RBM) would require reorganizing work flow and mindset. The meeting would need to orient people to RBM, reflect RBM, and give people practical experience with key concepts and skills without sinking into the minutia that can often derail planning and change. And fast-the meeting was in three weeks!

What we did

  • Met with key organizational leaders to understand their needs and intentions for the meeting. These meetings also revealed some internal dynamics, organizational history, and current challenges that formed the backdrop of the meeting. Reviewed key documents on the organization's history, strategy, and current change processes.
  • Based on the steps above, articulated and tested overall outcomes for the meeting.
  • Created the meeting architecture. Determined the overall flow of the agenda and approach to topics.
  • Worked with internal content experts to refine their presentations in line with overall outcomes and specific section intentions. Developed practical applications to illuminate larger points and allow people to grapple with the implications of the proposed changes. Reviewed and edited supporting materials.
  • Of note, the meeting occurred amid a severe weather emergency. While such emergencies were common to the Country Directors who work in post-conflict nations, they are far more rare for Washington, DC. We made contingency plans to conduct the meeting in the event of weather closures to major city systems.
  • Facilitated the meeting. Served as guide to the meeting process, encouraged and focused discussions, ensured broad participation including questioning or dissenting voices, and led application exercises.
  • Debriefing with organizational leaders focused on how to build on the results of the meeting to continue the organizational change process.

Results

By the end of the meeting, key organizational leaders had a thorough orientation to RBM and could see its application to their work. They were enthusiastic and appropriately humble about how best to implement the thorough changes afoot. They were committed to using mutual support to master their new process. Further, they understood that the change would take years, not weeks or even months, and that they had the foundation to realize their intentions. They solidified their community and left the meeting committed and connected.

"Heather was an invaluable resource. In a very short period of time, she absorbed much detail about our changing organization to enable her to successfully guide us through an introduction to results-based management. Her quiet wisdom kept us focused on our desired outcomes with steady discipline. With a welcoming grace and humour, Heather drew strong participation from our diverse, multinational group for productive discussions and practical exercises."

Corey Oser, Interim Director of Global Program