Routines that Make Room for Discovery

We launched our newest survey — “What’s Learning Like in Your Organization?” — this week. Close to 1,000 of you completed the survey (thanks!), and we’re eager to hear from others. Everyone who finishes the survey gets to choose a free GrantCraft guide. We want candid answers and great tips, but we’re also looking for robust numbers. The results will help others benchmark their practices.

Here are a few examples of what we’ve learned so far. In the survey, we asked people to describe a "routine practice" that enables learning. Many of you described vehicles that cleverly break down silos inside an organization. For example, here's a practice for circulating information that lets staff share specific expertise — with a built-in shortcut to the main point:

"We have a weekly internal newsletter reporting lessons/news from the field and emerging work across the foundation; all news items are tagged as to 'why staff should care'."

Here’s another about how staff at one foundation brief the board (and each other) about what they actually do:

"We have spent a lot of time educating our board of directors on the basics of our foundation work, with lunch and learn sessions to prepare them as we begin strategic planning. The sessions have been helpful for everyone--especially at breaking down silos and increasing understanding across departments."

Other practices are about stepping back from routine business to go deeper. Here’s another example on learning with trustees:

"For board members, we have instituted a periodic 'mini-retreat' of 2-3 hours on a specific subject. In January 2009, we used such a mini-retreat to decide on the foundation's community response to the recession. It's a powerful alternative to the board meeting, and we will use it again shortly to kick off a year of strategic planning."

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