Annual Conference Preview – Celebrating a Community of Trust

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July 10, 2018

Annual Conference Preview – Celebrating a Community of Trust

By Tom Dente

President and CEO

Twelve hundred experts and practitioners. Two hundred unique organizations. Dozens of presenters and panelists. Close to one hundred providers of solutions for our sector. The Humentum Annual Conference in Washington, DC has become a special event for our community.  This year, we have had a record number of session submissions which demonstrates the generosity and sharing that underpins our global community. This is our first DC conference as Humentum and we are grateful for the participation of leaders and expert practioners from our community to make it happen.

Our theme this year is “The Power of Operational Excellence.”  With ongoing changes and challenges in our environment, we come together to recommit to the importance of strong operational capabilities to deliver results for our organizations and for our sector.  In the Humentum community, each of us is both a leader and an expert contributor. As difference makers in our organizations, we meet to share what more we can do individually and as a community in these more uncertain times.

We come together as leaders and practitioners to also challenge the conventional wisdom about operations. We are in many ways a radical community in our sector. We believe that operations are not just back office functions, but also strategic capabilities. We also believe that operations are not just cost centers, but also sources of untapped value for NGOs. Finally, we believe that operations should not be ‘starved’ functions, but capabilities sustained by growth and investment. In our work, we challenge the conventional wisdom each day. With our sector in the midst of transformation, with our organizations facing major change, we believe that operational excellence is essential to the future.

In our shared work, we often speak of operational excellence with our teams and organizations.  As a phrase, it can sound abstract, perhaps even a bit cold, and subject to different interpretations. In conversations with many members over the years, there emerges a deeper meaning to this commitment.  For our community, operational excellence in one word means “trust.” It means that if we are operationally excellent, we are trusted by our constituents to safeguard funding, information and people, be resilient in the face of change, and sustain our impact in a more uncertain environment. As a Humentum community, strengthening trust is our core purpose. The conference presents us the opportunity to reconnect, share insights, and advance the operational practices that help us do this even more effectively.

In addition to recommitting to our purpose, we recommit to each other. The conference reveals the power of belonging to a community of experts and practitioners, anchored in trust. Last month, I was reading the book Restore Yourself by Edy Greenblatt who argues that in both our work and non-work, we need find environments that restore our personal resources. By personal resources she means the physical, social, cognitive and psychological energies that can be depleted in high-stress, high-work overload situations. In this time of change for our sector, we need even more places to restore ourselves.

At the conference, we hope to offer three days where, after a busy year, you can recharge by reconnecting socially with your colleagues across the sector and by sharing ideas and challenges in a supportive, trusting environment. This commitment to each other extends well beyond the conference.  In many ways, the real benefits of the conference occur after it is over. Each day there are many examples of peer support, practice sharing, and collaboration across our global community that began with trusted relationships made at the conference.

So, if we look closely at the “Power of Operational Excellence” what do we see?  We see each of you, and your colleagues around the world, delivering results and sharing those insights for the good of all.  We also see a community supporting each other in their most challenging areas by contributing ideas, insights and practices. We see a community of leaders and experts, founded on trust, working each day to strengthen trust in their organizations and our sector. We see a global community of trust in action.

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