This article was originally published by Humentum.
It has become almost commonplace to say we are in a time of accelerating change: our external environment more rapidly transforming, our sector evolving in fits and starts, our organizations adapting to new pressures, and our individual responsibilities shifting and expanding. While perhaps common in our discussions, these changes are no less challenging nor easy to address, even as we see the many new opportunities emerging in this shifting kaleidoscope of our world.
As we approach the first-year anniversary of our merger at Humentum, we are deeply grateful for the support of this community and excited to be able to deliver more services and value in this time of change. We believe that our shared commitment to operational excellence is more important than ever. Over the last year, I have spoken with many in our global community about the importance of operational excellence. It is clear from those discussions that committing to and advancing operational excellence has three primary benefits: it sustains overall impact, it strengthens organizational resilience, and it enhances institutional trust. Operational excellence is therefore on everyone’s agenda – from senior leaders to expert practitioners at all levels – as impact, resilience, and trust are everyone’s responsibility in our sector.
Looking ahead, how do we continue to make strides as a community toward operational excellence? Each of us knows that achieving operational excellence as a single organization, or even as a single function, can be very challenging. The goalposts keep moving, practices evolve, broader pressures emerge, resources shrink, and even greater agility is required given the pace of change in our sector. What can be done?
A recent short blog I read may offer some insights. In Agility: Mindset Makeovers Are Critical, the authors highlight the need for a mindset of agility in a period of profound change. They see agility as being three essential movements: from certainty to discovery, from organizational authority to partnerships, and finally, from scarcity to abundance. They highlight how this shift in mindset can break our natural inward and backward focus and open new opportunities, writing, “The traditional mindsets of scarcity, authority, and certainty no longer fit today’s ever-changing world. They cause us to focus inward and backward, and lose sight of amazing opportunities. Making the three fundamental shifts to mindsets of abundance, partnership and discovery lets us look forward, unleashing the full potential of our people and our organizations.”
For me, this mindset shift toward agility is simply that of moving from the individual – either a person or organization – to a community. Faced with the rapid evolution of operational capabilities and with real constraints on resources, being part of our Humentum community offers new opportunities to strengthen agility. Supporting discovery, partnerships, and abundance beyond our individual organizations is the essence of our global community. Tapping into global operational practices across our network creates possibilities for discovery beyond the certainty of what is known by an individual organization or function, including emerging practices and difficult lessons learned. Similarly, reaching out to trusted peers across our community brings the value of real-time collaboration and partnerships to solve pressing problems. Finally, moving beyond often scarce internal resources to those shared across our community creates an abundance that each of us contributes to and draws upon over time. Essentially, being an active participant in our community multiplies agility.
As Humentum itself addressed significant change in our post-merger environment, I have experienced these benefits directly. Over the last year, Humentum’s own internal change curve exhibited all the tell-tale signs of early enthusiasm, then the challenges and frustrations of grappling with integration and a new organization, and then the slow movement upward as situations settle and confidence begins to improve. On different days, navigating these changes could seem daunting. But during that more challenging phase for us, being able to reach into our community was essential. Leveraging practices on addressing change, having open discussions and advice from peers, and drawing expertise and resources helped us navigate those challenging days. Being part of this community allowed Humentum as an organization to become more agile in addressing this critical period of change. We would not have been able to move as quickly or with as much depth if we did this alone.
As we look ahead, our Humentum team is strongly committed to supporting operational excellence and agility given the changes in our sector. Humentum is deepening our focus on the four core operational capabilities of compliance and risk, financial management, program management and people development to strengthen our shared commitment as a community dedicated to operational excellence. We will do this by making our learning offerings, consulting services, global convening and insights more accessible, more integrated, and more relevant in our ongoing journey to operational excellence. Working together, we can enhance our individual and organizational agility. With the pace of change only continuing to accelerate in our sector, opportunities for greater abundance, partnership, and discovery through our Humentum community will need to develop even faster. We are excited to explore and deliver new ways to make this happen.