The Oak Foundation hosts a CEO peer consultation group to share ideas, experiences, and challenges. The foundation had noticed that leaders of various partner organizations share similar challenges – such as fundraising, juggling multiple funder requirements while staying accountable and credible to those they serve, managing growth and change, staffing, and human resources – and recognized its ability to connect these leaders to discuss solutions. Adriana Craciun, the foundation’s senior adviser for organisational development and capacity building, shared: “This is a very lonely position; these CEOs do not easily find peers with whom they can exchange and advise.” The peers in the group have varying levels of experience and come from different fields of expertise.
While the foundation is the convener, they are not the facilitator of the group. “We provide a very high-quality coach to work with the group, who uses the Time To Think methodology. It’s highly efficient for gatherings like this,” shared Adriana. Leaders participating in the group hope to, among other things, develop stronger relationships, be candid without competition, learn from and troubleshoot with others, and reenergize.
The foundation was careful about composing the group and how it would be facilitated. In initial research with participants, they received helpful feedback about what the leaders didn’t want – including superficial discussions or team building games, seminar-type conversations, and homework. This sort of data can help inform the construct of a peer learning group so that it maximizes productivity and participation.
The first meeting was very successful, and the Oak Foundation plans to hold two more gatherings in 2015.