Challenging Conversations: A Pathway to Innovation

At The Fedcap Group, we are committed to finding precise interventions that will alter the status quo and create lasting and sustainable change in the lives of those we serve.

Our growth—and our success—depends on our staff coming to work each day with this innovator’s way of thinking. As a leader, I know that a big part of my job—and that of all of our leaders—is to create the conditions that allow for the open flow of ideas—good, bad, or impossible.

To create these conditions, as leaders, we must be intentional about establishing a common understanding that we can—and will—make mistakes, engage in generative dialogue, and appreciate the essential role that conflict plays in arriving at breakthrough solutions. The root of the word “conflict” is “striking together.” It is only by pushing each other to think beyond our immediate understanding and by challenging each other to see things we haven’t thought of that we will find not just good solutions, but the right solutions.

Many people do what they can to avoid conflict. Instead of challenging their peers or their superiors, they say yes or they stay quiet, hoping to stay “under the radar.” Part of the reason for our success is that we encourage our staff—no matter what the level—to speak up with their insights and ideas. I never want staff to agree with me if they see something I haven’t seen. I want to be challenged, I want us to challenge each other, because I want to get it right.

This environment requires that we have built a solid foundation of trust.  If we don’t trust each other, and if we don’t engage in challenging conversations, we simply will not innovate. It is my job to ensure the conditions are right for truly striking together to ignite powerful solutions to society’s toughest problems.

Read all of our blogs at: http://www.fedcapgroup.org/ceo-blog

Relevance, Sustainability, Impact

In 2009, Fedcap adopted a framework that has served us well over the past decade:  Sustainability, Relevance and impact.  These three drivers influence the way we think, plan and implement. They are foundational to the culture of our organization, and they guide how we measure success.

Sustainability: A commitment to long-term financial health.

None of our work is possible if we don’t remain financially healthy. Sustainability requires that we establish our core indicators of corporate health, that we report against those indicators, and we build strategies and accompanying structures to ensure we remain financially healthy.

Sustainability advances our ability to innovate and stay relevant.

Relevance: A commitment to continuous innovation and modernization.

An organization must remain ahead of the curve—understanding the emerging trends in practice, funding and technology and how they impact service design and delivery. We simply cannot do what we have always done. We talk a lot about looking forward in our agency.  What is next…and what comes after that?  These are questions that we explore in detail during our corporate weeks together.

Relevance means that the organization is positioned to thrive regardless of the inevitable twists and turns of the marketplace.

Impact: A commitment to measurable improvements.

Because we are committed to solving (not just serving) problems, we have set bold goals to improve the long-term outcomes for vulnerable populations.  We are doing this by changing our own practice and by working with government and private partners to change how systems design, fund and deliver services.  We measure our success by tracking the national outcomes of these groups, not just those who walk through our door.

We are embedding research into our program models to ensure the efficacy of our program design and then replicating and scaling our evidence-based interventions.

This very precise frame is one that we can apply throughout our companies, programs, and our services. It is simple, and it is direct, and it is the foundation for our structure and for our plans for growth.

What frame do you use for your planning and implementation?

As always, I welcome your thoughts.