In the first week of 2017, we took a step back, breathed and assessed 2016. Highlights from this year included increased number of communities and partners, better graduation rates, increased efficiency and powerful stories from boys and their families who are a part of our programmes.
We asked our team to reflect on the question ‘What did we learn as an organisation in the year 2016?’. We are happy to share with you the top five lessons we learnt.
1. Clarity on approach
We developed a better understanding on how to ensure that the work we do is informed by feminist principles and transformative agenda, while not compromising on the needs and rights of the boys we work with. This became a crucial learning that influenced strategy discussions.
We also emphasised on clarifying and consolidating our identity as an organisation. This helped us in progressing towards ensuring that every team member, old and new, is aware of the purpose of our work and what our non-negotiables are.
2. Relentless focus
Last year we were faced with new opportunities, alternative approaches and models and ‘best-practice’ advice. These are good developments. However, each of these opportunities could be a distraction that may limit us from reaching our full potential or even make us fail. We learnt to say ‘no’ and be aware of what’s happening around us and stay focused on what truly moves us closer to our mission.
3. Know our place in the big picture solution
The size of the problem we are dealing with is big. It does get overwhelming for us as individuals and as an organisation. Exercises to reflect and gain clarity on how we are contributing to the solution even if it is small was useful. Acknowledging we need help and then seeking help to accelerate progress towards our objective was something we learnt to do better. This reminder made ‘collaboration’ one of the top priorities for 2017.
4. Data can be powerful only when it is shared and is accessible
Until last year, the data we were collecting from various tools to measure our programme performance wasn’t quite accessible. In 2016, we worked on frequent and timely dissemination of data to our team and most importantly to the individuals from the communities who contributed to the data. Efficient use of basic technology to make the process of data collection and analysis quicker, reducing manual errors and making the data available live was something that we started to work on. This is something we will continue to improve upon in 2017. The next phase will include making the data accessible to those outside of ECF.
Last year was a year of transition for us. We were transitioning from an organisation that operates in one city to one that operates across two states with multiple partners. This change meant growth in number of team members, increased budget, responsibility of bigger impact and lot more at stake. It wasn’t easy and we know 2017 is not going to be easy as we continue to grow in the year.
The resilience of the team is what kept us going. It helped us understand we are in this for a long haul. The conditions that affect us are not always in our control. We need to figure out solutions one step at a time that are in the best interest of our mission; keep learning from our mistakes and keep moving ahead.
What definitely helped us was the ability of of our team to not give up on the difficult questions and to take the bull by the horns.
A big thank you to all the boys and their families, our advisers and supporters for making 2016 an eventful year and helping us grow stronger. We are excited about making 2017 even better with your support.