Posts with the tag
“Global Heads of Division”

Leading Together on transforming CSO culture

15th January 2020 by Åsa Månsson

About Leading Together

Under the new name of Leading Together, in June we will convene Global Heads of Division of international civil society organisations (ICSOs) for high-level strategic discussions on global trends, best practice and joint challenges. This meeting presents a unique chance for senior leaders to network with and learn from peers. It is a space for leaders to explore opportunities for collaboration and discuss how to push for change in the sector together.

Previous Participant:

“The fact that I managed to meet and connect with my peers was amazing. The collaborative spirit and safe conversations were highly appreciated.”

This year, Leading Together will have a specific focus on Organisational Culture. Organisational Culture is a critical element of an organisations potential success or failure. Most ICSOs are investing considerable amounts of time and resources in strategy development and implementation. In some cases, however, organisations pay only a little attention their culture, which – since ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’ – means there is a high risk of undermining their strategy. Yet, there are also plenty of examples of good organisational culture playing a key role in strengthening strategies, making them more relevant and legitimate. There is a need for ICSOs to develop a deeper understanding of how culture functions and develop a broader toolset on how to shape culture.

About Leading Together

Event format and focus: Leading Together 2020 offers two separate but interlinked conference elements:

  • Joint sessions: Space to explore, discuss and shape burning issues related to the future of the civil society sector – with all participants.
  • Parallel meetings: Space for peer exchange and exploration of collaboration – in parallel groups of Directors.

Joint sessions theme: Organisational Culture

  • Understanding organisational culture
  • Learnings from changing CSO culture

Parallel Meetings: Peer exchange and exploration of collaboration

In the second part of the conference, the following four groups will meet in parallel:

  • Policy & Advocacy Directors: The Centre has convened this group annually since 2016.
  • Programme Directors: The Centre convened this group for the first time in 2018.
  • Human Resources Directors: The Centre convened this group for the first time in 2019.
  • Heads of Urban: The Centre has convened a thematic group of ICSO innovators annually since 2017, this year’s focus on urbanisation in the Innovation Report adds this group to the Leading Together format for the first time.

 

Åsa Månsson

Special Projects

Wikimedia Foundation

In May 2020 Åsa left the Centre and joined Wikimedia Germany in a role working on organisational development’. Between 2010 and 2013, Åsa acted as manager of the INGO Accountability Charter (Accountable Now). In September 2013, Åsa took up the role as Director of Development, innovating the Centre’s fundraising and communication efforts. Since October 2016, Åsa has been Director of the Global Standard and has additionally taken on the role as the Centre’s Programme Director in mid-2017. Originally from Sweden, Åsa earlier worked for a consultancy, evaluating social projects within the public and civil society sector. Åsa studied European Studies and Sociology at universities in Gothenburg and Berlin. She completed her education with a Master’s thesis on the role of civil society in European governance.


What’s for breakfast?

5th June 2018 by Helene Wolf

Culture eats strategy for breakfast. This phrase came up more than once, when the Centre for the first time brought together three groups of global leaders from international civil society organisations (ICSOs): Programme, Policy and Operations Directors who met for two and a half days in Berlin to discuss and learn together how to increase the impact of their work and their organisations.

The conversations, both in the plenary and in the three separate peer groups, confirmed that most ICSOs are undergoing fundamental changes within their structures, funding models and ways of working. This requires massive efforts from all parts of the organisation, including the moving or dispersing of international headquarters, new governance structures or the reorganisation of entire divisions.

But first and foremost it requires a very different culture within our organisations to bring the new systems to life and achieve the long-term change we aim for. The importance of organisational culture has been part of the Centre’s discussions around transformational change in the past years. As most organisations now have advanced on their change journeys, the question moves to the forefront of the agenda.

The crisis around safeguarding is one devastating example that it is not enough to have sufficient policies and processes in place if they are not fully embraced, practised and enforced by all parts of the organisation. But also the ambitious goals of many organisations to work closer to the ground, collaborate more with partners and deliver on the key promise of the Sustainable Development Goals to leave no one behind require very different approaches to collaboration and ways of working.

The three groups of leaders at different points in their meetings started to unpack what this means for their roles, their teams and their wider organisations: How do we create the spaces for the challenging and uncomfortable conversations we need to have in order to move forward? How do we work together differently in our respective roles to stop the cases where power has been abused both internally and externally? What kind of leadership is needed for the kind of organisations we want to be? How can we support each other in this work?

Culture change is certainly the hardest part of any change process. People have to change their behaviours: Some have to give up or share their power, others have to step up and claim their space and leaders have to set the new framework and live by it every single day.

Only if we think through the needed changes in culture more consciously and make it a key part of our strategic planning and implementation, we can truly reap the benefits of our ambitious change agendas. If we can match our strategic visions and implementation with a culture that is truly global, representative and transparent, this can also contribute to our legitimacy and narrative about the change we want to achieve in times when civil society is under heavy scrutiny and pressure.

Strategy and culture should have breakfast together – poverty, inequality and injustice should be on the menu.

    Helene Wolf

    Deputy Executive Director

    International Civil Society Centre

    Helene joined the Centre in May 2011 and was appointed Deputy Executive Director in May 2013, overseeing the general management of the Centre and its projects. Prior to joining the Centre team, Helene worked as a Research Officer at the International Crisis Group’s headquarters in Brussels and as a Junior Consultant at a strategic communications consultancy in Berlin. Helene holds an MA in EU Politics and Government from the London School of Economics and has also studied Cultural Studies at the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder) and in Wroclaw, Poland.