A key part of our recent away day was spent looking at how we plan, measure and reflect on the success of our work.
As with any busy organisation, we often find that we jump from one thing to the next, without taking the time to step back and think about what's working, what isn't, and what we can do differently.
This session aimed to break that cycle. We looked at how to plan our work, linking back to our project aims and objectives, thinking about the outcomes we wanted our young people, community groups and businesses to achieve, and then considering what activities we would deliver to create these.
We then looked at how we would measure whether our activities are achieving the outcomes we plan for participants. We knew we had a wide range of tools in place for this already, including progress trackers, feedback forms, one-to-one and group discussions with young people, case studies, testimonials and more. But we also thought there were some more creative ways we could capture participants' feedback at the end of sessions, and that there was more to do to capture the long-term impact of our work.
The final part of the session gave us time to think about how we currently reflect in our roles, what else we could do, the questions we want to be asking ourselves in these activities, and challenges which currently prevent us from critically reflecting on our work.
As a team, we identified lots of ways we currently reflect on our work, including team meetings and supervisions, quarterly reports and newsletters, news stories, funder reports and working groups to name a few.
We also thought of some new ideas, such as having a common framework to help us review and reflect on our work more regularly, capturing unintended impact, sharing successes and reflections with participants, keeping reflective logs and asking for more feedback from colleagues, young people and partners.
As a team, we felt that “why?” was the key question to ask in these activities (why did it work, why didn’t it work?) with “how?” being the crucial follow-up (how can we improve, how can we build on success?). Unsurprisingly, the main challenge to reflection was making the time for it, and we felt as a team that these new ideas would help us more critically review and continually improve our work.
At the end of the session, each team member wrote a postcard to their future selves with an action they wanted to take in the next three months. We'll review these at our next quarterly all team meeting to see which actions have been taken or not and why.
These actions and the others we created as a team will help us to embed a more critical reflection framework into our work, helping us to continually provide the best support and maximise the outcomes of our young people and community groups, so no one is left behind.
Find out more about our Power to Change approach which encourages critical reflection and continuous improvement.