When working with teams that cross different cultures and other boundaries, it’s important to value results, processes, and people.
Plant With Purpose values constant learning and continual improvement. With the goal of learning and improving our internal processes, we recently conducted a staff retreat in Southern California.
One of the biggest takeaways from our time spent together as a team was this– when it comes to doing great work, results, processes, and people all matter. To be an effective organization, we aim to excel in stewarding each of these areas.
If you aspire to be an effective change-maker, we hope you find these lessons helpful as well.
As an organization, we could have the best intentions in the world, but if our work wasn’t helping to make a notable, positive difference in the communities where we work, we’d have to question our presence.
Thankfully, when we look at stories that our partners tell and the statistics that measure our impact, we can safely say that we are seeing positive results. Some of these results include 27 million trees planted, poverty cut by two thirds, mothers in the Congo providing one extra meal to their kids each day, or burgeoning entrepreneurs starting businesses in rural Haiti.
This isn’t to say that our success rate is perfect. Like any growing organization, we learn by observing what works as well as what doesn’t work. But the results do reflect growth, improvement, and empowerment.
In order to accomplish our desired results, we need effective processes. An effective process plays an important role in empowerment. In order for communities to be independently thriving, a process puts the tools and knowledge into the hands of local leaders.
Across a wide variety of different sectors and industries, the most effective organizations are ones with the most refined processes. Having a well defined process often isn’t as attention grabbing as demonstrable results. It might be easy to compromise processes in an effort to appease people. But process is extremely necessary for producing great results and working well with people.
Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard explains that “the goal of climbing big, dangerous mountains should be to attain some sort of spiritual and personal growth, but this won’t happen if you compromise away the entire process.”
At Plant With Purpose, we dedicate time to refining processes in order to make things better. We encourage participants to adopt good processes in their villages, and we aim to do the same across all areas of our work. This persistence pays off. Over recent years, we’ve been able to decrease the amount of funding it takes to support a single participant, allowing us to impact more people across more communities.
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of relationships in our work. From donors to participants, we recognize that every person we interact with is worthy of dignity and respect. As a Christian organization, we operate on the belief that all are made in the image of God.
When relationships aren’t honored, organizations can quickly become unhealthy and even harmful. Sadly, it isn’t too difficult to think of examples where this is the case. When organizations focus solely on results and neglect people, they often cause damage.
How do we ensure that people’s dignity is upheld throughout all of our work? We try to tell stories that feature people who overcome obstacles rather than people who are defined by their problems. Surveys and feedback help us listen to our participants across all areas of our work. We approach others with enthusiasm that affirms their worth.
All of this is worth it. When we are able to share our published materials with participants they often take pride and share them with their children. This affirms that every effort is worthwhile.