Three regional environmental trust funds were at different stages of institutional development and all struggling with governance issues. The groups decided to pool their resources and knowledge to share their challenges and successes. Aligning Visions was hired to write Governance in Regional Conservation Finance Platforms: A Comparative Case Study – 2017, and develop a workshop for the funds to put the learning into practice and make the necessary changes in their bylaws, culture, and operational manuals.
Paquita, you were an excellent communicator and facilitator for our meeting on regional governance structures. You got us involved from the beginning – we never had time to sit back. The workshop was excellent and I can tell you put all of your energy into it. You wrung us dry with the many exercises and challenges, but upon reflection I can see how much we learned. Your name alone is a door to new learning and adventure for me.
Josefina Gómez, Planning Director, MARENA, Dominican Republic
In a similar commitment to learning and sharing, Audubon chapters throughout California shared their best practices in fundraising:
I just reviewed the Audubon California Chapters Fundraising: A How-to Guide and it is very impressive and thorough. It will be a great resource especially for smaller chapters that are trying to learn how to do fundraising. I wish I’d had a guide like this when I started out in the nonprofit world. This is a great way to leverage the Audubon network and minimize reinventing the wheel. And of course it’s fun to see our work included as examples!!
Ilana DeBare, Communications Director, Golden Gate Audubon Society
Organizations and networks can create an environment for knowledge sharing – or not. Unfortunately for all of us, as W. Edwards Deming says, “Learning is not compulsory – either is survival.” Today, when major ecosystem changes are happening at an ever increasing pace – we must see learning as compulsory! There is a constant need to attain new knowledge that advances our professional growth as practitioners as well as our organizations’ abilities to adapt to new threats and challenges. My approach is highly facilitative and focuses on engaging training and sharing events (see capacity build). In addition to up-front group work, I also help networks and organizations:
- Share information and knowledge through workshops, websites, and publications;
- Document and validate strategies that have measurable impacts and then identify best practices; and
- Leverage the lessons learned from other organizations and programs to forge innovations and adaptations.
An implicit assumption in my work is that organizations and networks do best if they have well-established mechanisms for sharing information. Knowledge sharing is a fundamental building block for enhancing network value and forging increased member confidence, trust, and dialogue. With greater shared understanding, practitioners develop an appreciation for collaborative opportunities where experimenting with strategic innovations or applying new principles can flow more readily. Aligning Visions has used surveys, interviews, formal evaluations, and facilitated meetings to identify the systems and methodologies in place to support knowledge sharing. The link between the types of learning that your systems and organizational culture encourage, and participant’s learning style preferences are also explored. Specific areas that are addressed include:
- Relationship-based learning (e.g. mentors, peer networks, supervisors etc);
- Experience-based learning (e.g. field visits, job challenges, team assignments etc.) ;
- Formal learning opportunities (e.g. training, orientations, workshops, retreats, etc.); and
- Resource-based learning (e.g. access to memberships, publications, libraries, databases, etc.).
Finally, Aligning Visions looks at the issue of “sharing” vs. “hoarding” knowledge. Human Resource practices, Information Systems approaches, Network cultures, and time allocations all serve as incentives (or disincentives) for encouraging participants to share information, help others be successful, and engage peers in collaborative processes.
Paquita was asked to compile experiences and documentation from many years of history, from our own organization and others, to create a comprehensive “book” on good practices in partnership. Paquita is an absolute sleuth, she tracked down every conceivable person and resource, and then she organized a teeming mass of information into logical, manageable pieces. She has seemingly limitless energy and is an excellent project manager, driving multiple subsets of team members in a friendly but determined way that elicited the best possible responses from everyone involved. The project finished on time, and Paquita was very conscientious about cost management. I would hire Paquita again in a heartbeat.
Olivia Millard, Director of Global Partnerships,