Highlighting Our Resilient Network


Highlighting Our Resilient Network

By Tom Dente

President and CEO

In mid-March, I had the opportunity to be in Nairobi for Humentum’s Nairobi Week of specialized learning events and workshops, expert roundtables, dinner panels, and member reception. It is always inspiring to meet and speak with operations leaders and experts who bring such innovation and creativity in delivering results for their organizations. 

Highlighting this week for me was the adaptability and resilience of operational teams, organizations, and our sector at work in Kenya. Resilience continues to be an essential topic for our sector, as all of us look for ways to anticipate, endure, and bounce back from shocks and stresses. It is an area that we grapple with at Humentum as we continue our post-merger journey.

A few years ago, Dr. Judith Rodin, then-head of the Rockefeller Foundation, identified five characteristics of resilience in her book, The Resilience Dividend: Being Strong In A World Where Things Go Wrong. Resilient entities, she wrote, were aware, diverse, integrated, self-regulating, and adaptive. As a network of practitioners committed to operational excellence, Humentum strives to support resilience. Many of us can point to examples of how our individual organizations are diverse or adaptive, for example. But what helps make a resilient network of organizations? In Nairobi, three vignettes stood out for me that underlie our resilience, which I have summarized as the “three Cs”: Constructive Challenge, Collaborative Co-Creation, and Community Convening.

Constructive Challenge

Humentum hosted a senior leader dinner and panel on localization that included Anthony Okoth, the CEO of PS Kenya, Zoe Hensby of DFID in Kenya, and Degan Ali who serves as the executive director of Adeso and a board member of the NEAR network. They discussed—and debated—how to truly unlock the benefits of localization for our sector. In an honest and challenging exchange, the panelists presented their views on questions such as what defines a truly local organization? What are the barriers to having funding flow to local organizations? How can these barriers be removed? How can funders and INGOs use their unique power and capabilities to make this happen? While there was disagreement, there was also mutual respect and understanding. Constructive dialogue and challenge requires diversity of views and it raises awareness, two of the resilience traits Dr. Rodin identified. In the Humentum community, including diverse views and creating trusted spaces to challenge each other ensures we are not only a resilient community, but an even more relevant one.  

Collaborative Co-Creation

Building upon our Capacity For Humanity Conference in Arusha in February, Humentum hosted a Learning hackathon to further explore and mutually develop solutions to address learning needs. Later in the week, we facilitated a session of operations leaders where, as a group, we developed and shared solutions to create and sustain better local partner relationships. Each of these events revealed the untapped energy and value of jointly developing solutions and sharing them among practitioners. By nature, co-created solutions are more integrated and adaptive to real-life contexts and current needs. As such, they are more resilient.

Community Convening

During Nairobi week, I was invited to attend the Kenya Human Resources Roundtable, a community established by HR leaders for HR leaders 10 years ago that now includes more than 40 local leaders who convene regularly to share practices and solutions. Six years ago, I had met with this same network and it was exciting to see its growth and development in the intervening years. Self-regulating and adaptive—two aspects of resilience—this group has grown and changed to meet new needs. With its 10-year anniversary upcoming later this year, this community of experts helping experts has never been stronger. Humentum, as a global community, shares ideas and mutually supports a wide range of individual communities of practice such as this one, helping us foster shared resilience to meet the needs ahead.

As a diverse network of individuals, organizations and communities, Humentum will continue to evolve and change to meet the needs ahead for our global sector. As we strengthen our connections, through these “three Cs” and other linkages, we will become even more resilient and better able deliver upon our promise of supporting operational excellence in dynamic and uncertain times.

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