Practices That Put Your Expertise Into Play
By Jan Jaffe, Senior Partner of The Giving Practice
Learning how practitioners work well when philanthropy is trying to do its best has been an obsession of mine for decades. It started at the Ford Foundation with GrantCraft when I was able to interview program officers in many different foundations to create 30 guides that shared lessons learned about their “second job” – the craft of how they worked in sustainable, transparent and meaningful ways. More recently, with a new project called Philanthropy’s Reflective Practices, I’ve produced a guide to 4 core tools that I heard about from people in philanthropies across the country.
So, what are reflective practices? Put simply, they are tools and techniques that can help you navigate challenging situations at work. Yvonne Moore and I are hosting a session at Philanthropy New York on October 23rd to “test drive” a few reflective practices for navigating the work that matters in philanthropy. I’ve asked Yvonne to join me at PNY for a variety of reasons. She is a very talented leader in and consultant to philanthropy. I’ve seen her in action. I’ve listened to her observe and make sense of her own actions in moments when the way is not clear. I’ve seen her use sense-making tools that open up new pathways for her and her partners. That is what reflective practice is all about.
I recently had a conversation with Yvonne about one of these practices – how you discover your right role in challenging situations. She told me a wonderful story about confusing identity and role during an African women’s conference where she was asked to be the facilitator. If you come to the session, you will hear about that and have an opportunity to think about when you have been challenged by identity and role. We will be working together to name key roles to be effective in different situations. And we’ll talk about how role clarification can lead to inclusion and better outcomes, especially in complex, ambiguous and important situations.
Yvonne’s first principle for reflection is “The better you know yourself, the better you can interact with other people.” But how do you do that in contested roles, say of “convener” or “voice amplifier” or “disturbance generator”? Join us to learn some simple ways to identify your strengths and weaknesses to mobilize and manage them in your most important roles.
I asked Yvonne to bring a freshly minted dilemma to the session and hope you will do that, too. If we are successful, you will take away some new tools and skills applied to an issue you care about and new ideas that you can use with your colleagues and partners.