What a month it has been…for everyone. The economic downturn has many of our clients anxious, rattled, and concerned - and rightly so. This post is inspired by this week's Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants, being hosted by Michelle Murrain, over at Zen and the Art of Technology, on Monday, November, 3rd. She asks: Is the economy changing the way you work, or the way you think about your work? In what ways?
In terms of how we think about our work, there is a sense of urgency and priority that we, as consultants, are delivering high-value, high impact services. This is true in good times as well, but even more so right now.
For all of our clients, there is a choice around how to spend funds -- choosing a third party consultant to support a process or to facilitate a session - or even deliver a training - is a significant decision, even for larger agencies. Given the downturn, this has only deepened our focus and attention on delivering value. What does mean? It means that we will work more efficiently by integrating the use of on-line project management software (we use Basecamp) to continue conversations in between in-person meetings. It means we will ask for feedback on a consistent basis on the progress of an engagement or the effectiveness of a training session. It means that we will do everything in our power to communicate effectively and frequently to avoid missteps or miscommunication that will incur additional cost or confusion. It means that we are offering clients menus of services to select from - realizing that not every agency has the funds to invest in a significant 3-4 month strategic planning process, but a shorter, more nimble process will do the trick. We realize that and support our clients through prioritizing the sets of possible activities - and help them choose the most helpful, most informative, or most impactful.
The economic uncertainty means that we are working everyday with clients to teach them to manage their organizations through uncertain times. From retrenchment planning to building networks with peer agencies, we are helping organizations see that each one of them has a future that they can CHOOSE to define. Instead of running amok and being overwhelmed, we are helping our clients to take stock and to act decisively. It is our hope that through hiring FIO Partners to support them in some way, our clients will ride through the downturn and come out better and stronger on the other side.
In the meantime, it is the mission of FIO Partners to provide each of our clients guidance and support to make them healthier organizations and more able to enact the change they wish to see in the world.