Barack Obama famously said “Change is hard”.
The full importance of that statement hit home in this past fiscal year, when we undertook activities that would fundamentally change our organisational structure and culture and set it up for growth. In a successful social enterprise the staff team is focussed on the organisation’s vision and this in turn is clearly articulated and translated into every day tasks that are meaningful and relevant to achieve that end.
We spent last year cleaning house and reorganising ourselves, while continuing to run our operations.
We built staff and volunteer teams that were focussed on our vision of creating a world without language barriers while providing high quality, responsive and low cost services challenging business units to compete with and outperform each other.
We adopted a “getting to yes” maxim whereby team members who saw obstacles also came up with plans for overcoming them.
We created standard operating procedures that streamlined processes but cut out any form of bureaucracy. Now, anyone can bring forward an idea and know it will be considered.
But most important of all we created an organisational culture that can adapt and thrive through change.
And the changes have been numerous.
Market forces have played a key role in egging us on to greater efficiency. Price has become paramount in determining whether bids are won or lost. This is a new paradigm for us. So we have had to reduce our costs without compromising quality and find efficiencies wherever we could, using technology.
We upgraded our central database, our call centre operations and engaged in business process review and automation.
We increased our service offerings to include immediate telephone, video and ASL.
Our translation team expanded to provide audio and video transcription services.
Our team responding to Requests for Proposals now began churning out proposals faster than they came in the door. We realised we needed a high volume of service to achieve economies of scale which would result in lowering the unit costs of all our services.
We have won some and lost several bids but have many lessons learned.I personally faced more professional challenges last year than ever before. I stayed anchored in our vision even as changes happened in the sector that challenged us everyday. I had the support of amazing board and staff teams that, with compassion, forced me to think critically and holistically through all the plans.
Now – our primary commitments are to overachieve on our social benefits objectives, while keeping environmental sustainability concerns front and centre. We use our grants and earnings to serve the most vulnerable members of our society and continue to create jobs here at home by reinvesting surpluses in our local communities.
This blog will capture the time of change and shifting toward finding the blue oceans we need to sail.