This blog was originally published on Humentum by Tom Dente

The turning of the calendar and beginning of 2018 inspires new ideas and new possibilities. It prompts us to revisit goals for the upcoming year from individual resolutions to annual performance objectives. As individuals, many of us promise to eat better, exercise more, and better support our friends and families. And from personal experience, I have learned that achieving any of these goals becomes much easier when they are shared with family and friends who provide encouragement and support as the year unfolds. Professionally, many of us also commit to learning new skills in the new year, which is also easier to tackle when we have the support of colleagues.

In that same spirit of mutual encouragement and support, it is also a time to reflect upon and renew our commitments to our cherished organizational missions and their most essential priorities. In a new year of ongoing changes in our sector, I want to share with you our aspirations for the global Humentum community of operations leaders, experts, and practitioners. In short, they fall into three overall themes: going deeper, going broader, and learning more together.

Going deeper means continuing to enhance our core focus of advancing operational excellence across our programs and services. Our community exists and is dedicated to operational excellence, or the essential organizational capabilities that enable programmatic results and longer-term mission success. Operational excellence in our member organizations engenders trust and support across the many constituencies they serve, from funders to local communities. It also allows organizations to then use their resources more effectively, and to efficiently bring those resources to those most in need. Operational excellence is essential to having a more resilient and thriving sector.

As we became Humentum last year, each of our legacy organizations brought complementary areas of expertise: LINGOs, project management and learning and development; Mango, financial and risk management; InsideNGO, finance, grants and contracts, human resources, IT and legal services. This shared expertise has been actively supported and sustained by members, clients, and learners who generously share their insights and practices in these and other areas. But as we look ahead, traditional operations capabilities must continue to evolve to meet new needs. New capabilities and skills will be required, driven by more information, the applications of technology, more diverse partnering, and the different contexts in which we work. Going deeper to define the next generation of operational excellence will be prominent on our shared agenda in 2018.

Our second aspiration is going broader by continuing to create the communities and membership that reflect the global and local nature of our organizations and the different environments in which we work. As development continues to transform, humanitarian needs evolve, and new paradigms of more market-based solutions and partnerships take hold, we will need to reflect these broad contextual environments in underlying operations capabilities. In our changing sector, innovations in operational practice will emerge from many places, and from different types of organizations. Having broader involvement and participation across our diverse global community will ensure that innovation continues to be at the center of our Humentum community.

Finally, our goal for learning together is focused on making it easier to share our collective learning and continuing to foster a learning-based culture. In this less predictable and dynamic environment, we need to emphasize learning not only in our organizations and teams, but also as a community. Having access to lessons learned, innovation, and ideas from our deeper and broader community can support individual and organizational success. Just as important as new ways to share learning will be the values of inclusive collaboration and mutual trust which promote true learning in a diverse community. At Humentum, a refrain that continues to emerge internally in our work is that “we are all learners.” As a community of operations leaders and experts in a transforming sector, we are all learners, too.

As we look ahead to 2018, it will no doubt be another unpredictable year of global challenges, new organizational affiliations and transformations, and cross currents of pressures and opportunities across our sector. But if, as a talented and committed community, we deepen our commitment to operational excellence, broaden our global relationships, and share our learning, we can better succeed together. On behalf of our Humentum team, community, and partners, I wish you a successful new year!

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