During the lockdowns, staff have been scattered, volunteers may or may not have been able to work with you and, most crucially, opportunities to interact with service-users will have been more limited (although some organisations have learnt more about the people they work with than ever before!)

In our last newsletter, we talked about reimagining the future. The need to adopt a positive mindset: “Why not?” rather than “yes but..!” There will have been changes in the way you have worked over the last year and you might want to adopt some of these changes with implications for who, how and how many people and places you can reach. There will have been changes in the external environment as well. Some of your partners may have changed the way they work, or there might be new partnership opportunities. The funding scene has changed. Looking at opportunities to innovate, improve and improvise (adapt to the changing environment) are all important parts of a strategic review.

Coming back and coming together - time for a strategy review!

However, there is another aspect of a review that is equally as important. It can be a great opportunity to bring people back together again and for everyone to draw breath, re-group, reflect and re-energise. It’s been a tough year. That needs to be acknowledged. Celebrate what has gone well (or better than hoped for) and think about how to tackle some of the challenges ahead. You can only do this by involving everyone in the process.

Responsibility for strategy rests with trustees but, whatever the starting point, involving people in the future of their organisation and giving them a meaningful stake in its future success has to be a good thing. This includes staff, volunteers and, most important, service users. They are the reason for the existence of your organisation!

Often, what prevents many organisations from doing this is the fear that decision-making will become cumbersome and discussions will take too long and go around in circles. Whilst strategic decision making by a small cabal might seem more efficient, it is rarely successful. If you would like help with thinking through how best to execute a strategic review which is inclusive and relevant to everyone touched by the organisation, get in touch with Charity Mentors Oxfordshire. We would love to help!

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CEO of Home-Start Oxford, Katharine Barber, came to Charity Mentors because she wanted to reflect the perspectives of their various stakeholders in their strategy. Katharine tells us here, how the strategy review developed.

Home-Start Oxford operates in Oxford, the centre and west of the county – one of three Home-Starts in Oxfordshire and part of the national network of 180 charities that support families with at least one child under the age of 5. It is a delivery partner in the Growing Minds school readiness project, funded by Oxfordshire Community Foundation.

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In each issue, we introduce you to one of our mentors by telling you about their experience and giving you their answers to 3 questions, to include their own ‘top time-saving tip’.

Peter Wrigglesworth

Peter Wrigglesworth

Peter’s entire career has been within the creative industries. He built a successful communication agency advising clients on communication strategy and producing programmes, events, and presentations across a wide range of media, ultimately specialising in employee engagement. Peter went on to set up Every Sense, a specialist business consultancy helping creative agencies and production companies grow, prosper, and achieve their potential. Peter works with individuals, management teams and employees to co-create a strong vision for their business and put in place the structures and processes to enable them to deliver that vision. Particular expertise in developing strategy, building teams and embedding vision and purpose within organisations. I’m proud to now be part of Charity Mentors where I can use my commercial experience to help charities thrive.

1. What do you feel is your greatest achievement?
My greatest achievement is having spent my life surrounded by passionate, energetic, creative people. Any success I have had owes everything to them.

2. What do you like to do outside of work?
Having stepped back from fee earning work over the past couple of years nearly all my time is now outside work! This has enabled me to rekindle my interests in art and photography. I’m a keen sailor and very much at home on the water. More importantly spending time with my five kids, seven grandchildren and extended family, much missed over the past year.

3. As a busy person wearing various hats, what’s your ‘top time-saving tip’ ?

A famous artist once said a painting is never finished until it’s sold. Up until then there is an opportunity to make changes. Like many creative thinkers I mull things over until I am forced to commit, whether that’s the development of a business strategy or a communications programme. That doesn’t lead to great time management, but I’ve never missed a deadline.