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Moving Our Own Needle: Adapting Blue Garnet

By Way-Ting Chen and Jennifer Li Shen

All right folks, Way-Ting here! Though we are squarely into 2014, it’s never too late to reflect back. For many, 2013 was a tough year of highs and lows, and proved to be a year of stretching and growth for us as well.

We’ve moved into our second decade and grew our team.  We also faced challenges concerning how to meet the needs of clients affected by the recession (sound familiar?). As we grow into our awkward teenage years (as it sometimes feels), these challenges have gotten us to think differently about how Blue Garnet does its work…and we’re excited to share some of our learning from the past year that helped, even compelled us to innovate.

This innovation came about through the sometimes painstaking process of evaluating our impact, digesting the learning, and course-correcting to maintain our strategy. For the sake of space, I’ll stick to some of the more candid thoughts from a recent conversation between the Blue Garnet team, Jenni and myself. Here is how it went:

Blue Garnet team: “It’s 2014 now! What were some memorable events from 2013?”

Way-Ting: “The Fieldstone Foundation: Sharpening Your Business Model” training series was one of my favorite happenings. As you know, we typically dive deep into individual organizations to help them through a transformational process.  At the same time, we’ve known that we could never meet the needs of all Southern California organizations that need this type of support. This series gave us the opportunity to pilot an offering that walks through one of our methodologies and tools  with a large group of organizations in a short time frame.  We were originally concerned with our ability to deliver an experience that was both impactful and engaging. In the end, I am pleased to say that the result was an accessible offering that reached a broader audience and still satisfied our standard of quality and impact —  This was a big highlight for me!”

Blue Garnet Team: “Yes, that was exciting!  Can we expect more of this soon?”

Jenni:  “Yes… “

Way-Ting:  “But wait…There’s more!  What made it even more meaningful, was that we took this opportunity to further push our thinking, and to hone our point of view regarding impact and business models.”

Jenni: “That’s right.  We know that high performing, high impact organizations tap all levels of the organization to strive toward the same impact. And, there needs to be measures in place to know if and when you are achieving that desired impact….”

Blue Garnet Team: “OK…I’m tracking…and this relates to business models, how?”

Jenni: “So, the recession hit all organizations hard, and it affected everyone here in Southern California.  As organizations worked even harder to satisfy funders and meet budgets, it left them questioning their own businesses and how they were going to function at the same level as before, but with less money…”

Blue Garnet Team: “Ahh.  Now I’m seeing it.  Knowing where you want to go helps you figure out how to make changes to what you do and how you afford it.”

Jenni:  “Exactly!  That’s how you make impact real.”

Way-Ting:  “Of course, this is easier said than done.  Being the pragmatic idealists we are, we had to take our own medicine.  So, we actually went through the same effort ourselves.”

Blue Garnet Team:  “And the results?  What can folks expect to see from Blue Garnet in 2014?”

Way-Ting: “Well, we love Southern California and remain committed to moving the needle here. At the same time, we were not immune to the recession.  To achieve our desired impact, we had to consider how to do so in a more innovative way.  The answer to this was to launch a more formalized offering that creates targeted impact, reaches more sector leaders, all while at a lower price point. A veritable golden triangle that allows us to respond, adapt, and meet certain market needs. And this is precisely the opportunity we piloted via the Fieldstone project.”

Jenni:  “As a result, for 2014 we have refined, re-articulated and adapted our service offerings.  For those who are ready and able, we continue to share in the deep dive journey of transformation into high performing organizations.  Also, for those who may not be there yet, or don’t have the means to engage in a fully tailored experience, Blue Garnet provides targeted support to foundation sponsored cohorts, as well as training bootcamps a la Fieldstone. The result is that we are better equipped to make the impact in Southern California that we desire.”

Blue Garnet Team: “Go 2014!”

So what key experiences and learnings during 2013 led to a refined way of thinking about your organization’s impact or business model? As a result, how will you evolve your organization’s strategy for 2014? Post a comment below, or contact us here.

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