When we started FunDza in 2011, we had big dreams… but we had no idea that we would grow so well and fast that these initial goals would be eclipsed by our seventh birthday! So, the plan of the May strategy workshops was to dream big and challenge ourselves to set a clear large-scale vision for the next five years.
Thanks to the insightful and compassionate facilitation of Lindiwe Msiza of Contract SA, we were able to lay the groundwork for doing just this. The FunDza team and board met on Friday 4 May and the morning of Saturday 5 May. Lindiwe worked us hard, ensuring that we didn’t get stuck in old modes of thinking.
The actual plan will be shared once practical details have been ironed out but for now, here are reflections from some of the FunDza team on the sessions and what were the big take-aways for each of them.
The first day was a bit confusing because I did not see the bigger picture. I left with a sense of confusion. Things became clear on day two. The session gave birth to a lot of ideas, which required much deep thinking. It got me thinking in a critical way and also challenged me to dream big. The strategic session allowed me to venture into ideas that I would have never thought about previously. I’m now not scared of thinking big, I have even applied this in my own life. The session made the impossible possible. Lindiwe, the facilitator allowed us to come up with our own ideas, even the goals and vision came from us. I am now left with clear goals which allow me to work in a smart way
~ Nandi Tshabane
When I came to work on Friday, the atmosphere was really nice. We got to see board members that we haven’t see in a while and we got to meet our chairperson, Siki. It was really great to have all of them with us and to listen to their expectations for FunDza. I liked the way Lindiwe started the session by asking everyone to speak about their expectations, because it allowed everyone to participate and give input. Lindiwe was really well prepared and managed to make the day fun. At the end I felt we got to see what our short term and long term goals are, which also caused me to reflect on my personal goals. I honestly think Lindiwe’s facilitation was a great asset for FunDza. We managed to come up with a lot of solutions and I wish we could have had more time with Lindiwe and hope she will spend more time with us in the near future. Even though some of the goals might seem really big, it feels achievable because I left feeling positive.
~ Alonzo Naude
What a wonderful Strategic Planning session we had with Lindiwe and our Board of Directors.
As this was planning for the next five years we felt quite daunted at the start as there was a lot to think about. Having the Board attend also gave us the importance of the session we were giving input to. Lindiwe was fantastic and very thorough in her approach. We also had time to fit in a game which very cleverly involved planning, time keeping, communication and the importance of working as a team. On the second day, Lindiwe helped us to fine-tune our goals and make them more manageable. We cut all our goals down to size and it was only then that we were able to see the light and realise our dream was attainable. By the end, we were all exhausted as we realised we had such a lot to do if we were to fulfil our dream of turning FunDza into a fully national organisation in five years’ time.
~ Dawn Wilson
Anyone who thinks a strategy session is a chance to sit back, avoid some emails, have some fun and throw ideas around is mistaken. It is thought-provoking and can leave you feeling exhausted! But it is an opportunity to learn, to grow and to hear out your colleagues. I was grateful for the chance to lay things out and dissect. Lindiwe facilitated the space and handled all the various personalities (board members, staff members, interns and the ED) in her stride. The thing that mostly stood out for me was to take risks. In the NGO world, you can’t play it safe – if you want to make your impact, you need to do more of the things you say you’re going to do. ACTION!
~ Shelley Bolle
I was so happy to be part of the strategy meeting at FunDza. I learnt a lot and was grateful that we were able to write down our ideas and the expectations we have. One of the things I was particularly grateful for was that we were left with practical things to do, such as the piloting a multilingual format magazine. I also like the fact that we worked on our Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Challenges ahead of time so that we could see areas that needed attention. I like the fact that as I work now I am able to keep our short-term goals in mind, because they are achievable. And I look forward to making progress in the organisation.
~ Refilwehape Mofokeng
The strategy session was informative and slightly different to how we’d done it previously. I felt that the time was ahead of us as we could not get to everything that was on the agenda. There was a lot to get done and it took a great deal of energy. But we became more enlivened after the group activity took place. I enjoyed this a lot as it showed great teamwork. I realised that everything gets done quicker if we’re working well as a team. It also showed me that if one person fails, it affects everyone else. And, it showed the importance of improvisation, especially when things don’t go as planned or a team member is away. It was a good, fresh session. I felt that we are beginning to put our words to action. It was interesting to notice the strengths and weaknesses of not only within our Fanz stakeholder group, but also with the Family, Friends and Foundation groups… and that we can contribute to the work for each group and not just the one in our comfort zone.
~ Tamica Mopp
I have to say I don’t love strategic planning, even though I know it’s useful and necessary. However when you have lots of deadlines, it just feels too distracting. So I wasn’t in the most prepared frame of mind on Friday morning, as I was thinking of all that I had to do. But it ended up being a very productive two days. It was wonderful to get time with our Board, and to be able to engage with them on a deeper level about FunDza and its future. Lindiwe also led us competently, making sure the work we did was the work that we actually wanted. And the team-building activity was the most challenging and engaging I’ve ever done! As we were all part of framing the future for FunDza, at the end of the sessions I think we all had a renewed interest and the organisation and where it should be going. Now it’s time to do the work…
~ Dorothy Dyer
This was the third strategy session I attended as part of the FunDza team. And it was the best one to date. It took hard work, dedication and focus. And courage for certain parts. Courage to take a hard, sharp look at weaknesses individually, within the team, the programme and the organisation as a whole. Courage also to think big, to be audacious and to imagine what the future could look like. The facilitator was the perfect fit for us. With her guidance we not only put together short term goals, we also started executing them within the first week. There is a stronger sense of purpose and an atmosphere of hope.
~ Sonja Kruse
I found this strategy workshop the most practical one we have had so far. The facilitator was very professional and engaged and read the organisation well. She provided a good balance ensuring that we got onto the nitty-gritty of how to take things forward with concrete ideas. It was really valuable to have everyone’s voices and opinions in the workshop and to share ideas and feelings and work together to solve problems. It was especially nice having board members there to provide some outside perspective as we tend to get lost in the daily details rather than seeing the bigger picture.
~ Ros Haden
The strategy meeting came at a perfect time as I had just joined the organisation and was trying to find my place. I learned about how we started, where we are and what we want to achieve. Each session was inspiring. I realised that in order for us to reach our goals we had to have a plan and most importantly the big goals are achieved to execution of the small daily task. We started looking into what we need to start doing, what we must continue doing and what we needed to stop. This was a personal reflection for me as I realised the importance of committing to those seemingly insignificant daily tasks. I have learnt the power of focusing on the things you can actually change. As otherwise one can waste time and energy on concerns that are outside of our control. This hit home for me as I know that what I focus on expands, so by focusing on the tasks I can influence my concerns become less and less and I then become more effective.
~ Andiswa Mqaba