These questions pertain to GrantCraft's guide, Personal Strategy: Mobilizing Yourself for Effective Grantmaking. Read the guide independently. Then, together with colleagues, discuss the following questions:
The organizational theorist Donald Schön named the ambiguous situations that exist in fields of practice the “swampy lowlands.”
Consider a time when you conducted a difficult conversation with a grantee; presented a risky proposal to your board; or gave critical feedback to a grantseeker.
This GrantCraft guide defines “role” as a set of broadly defined expectations that come with the job and the discretion grantmakers are given to meet them.
Let’s build on this to reflect upon a trio of concepts—role, self, and system—that help analyze personal strengths and weaknesses and consider the larger environment in which the grant maker hopes to be effective.
Organizational theorist and consultant Larry Hirschhorn writes about “the large zone of discretion” in which “you have to decide how to execute your work.”
One way of thinking about organizational strategy is to ask “what should we do to advance our mission… in light of our own strengths and weaknesses?”
How do other roles (boss, board, grantseeker, grantee, colleague) create distinctive conditions around your place in the work system? In other words, does the observation that much of what goes on in the workplace is not the product of person-to-person interactions, but person-in-role to person-in-role interactions ring true?
Educator and consultant Barry Oshry has shown how people’s position in a work system—as a “top,” “middle” or “bottom”—affects their behavior and performance. As middles, grantmakers may feel pulled from both sides leading to an overalignment with one side or another. Or by becoming bureaucratic as a way to reduce dissonance and keep people away. Or by trying to please everyone and perhaps coming across to all as weak.
Personal Strategy Framework
The power of an analytic framework is that it provides a way to understand explicitly things we already do but don’t usually reflect upon.
Share examples of situations where you behaved as a:
Reflective Practice Techniques
1. Analyze your frustrating incidents.Choose an incident when you were not satisfied with the outcome and, even with the benefit of hindsight, are not sure how you should have proceeded. Recall what you were trying to accomplish, how you went about it, and what was frustrating. Try to identify a turning point where you could have responded differently.
Consider keeping an occasional journal of incidents for yourself or—working with colleagues—consider building up a “library” of incidents for your organization that can be especially useful for training new employees.
2. Create dialogue around your role.
Start to uncover the implicit mental images you have of a grantmaker’s role. Complete and compare simple analogies:
3. Reverse-engineer your role models.
Name one of your work role models.
4. Mobilize yourself, not your self-image.
5. Plot your partner.