Start with the Why

February 27, 2019 / Comments Off on Start with the Why

Org. Development

Shelby Rogala, Professional and Organizational Development Manager

If you were to swing by MNA’s office any given day, you’d probably overhear one of us say “start with the why.” It’s a mantra we often repeat to screen ideas or prioritize projects, and it always brings us back to the needs of our members and the sector. Not surprisingly, it also informs our training and education opportunities. When we begin with the why of professional and organizational development, we recognize that our goal is threefold. We seek to create a full list of training opportunities that strengthen your professional development, support the development of your team, bolster your organization’s capacity, and propel your mission forward.

This tiered approach begins and ends with the why, which in our case is the mission – something that differentiates nonprofit professional and organizational development from other professional and corporate organizational development. Starting with the why helps us screen and create training meant just for Montana nonprofits. Our philosophy is illustrated in the scope of learning environments we seek to create, which include elements of professional and organizational development, but take shape in a mission-driven setting.

In professional development, the learner or student is the primary target of the curriculum, course, or lesson. For example, imagine a grant writing workshop: an individual enrolls in the course for the purpose of better understanding how to write grants. The instructor has designed the course to help the students achieve the goal of practicing or mastering grant writing. The learning cycle begins and ends with the relationship between the student and instructor.

In organizational development, another layer is added – that of the organization. Though content is presented to individuals at a company, the context in which it is being applied includes the organization for which the individual works. Consider a training hosted by a single organization to help employees improve their meeting facilitation skills. The trainer has been contacted by the organization to facilitate growth in a key area that will benefit the operation of a company. The individuals are engaged in improving their meeting facilitation skills, and the company is invested in this outcome because it will benefit their overall operation. The learning relationship now includes the instructor, the student, and the organization.

In the nonprofit world, we have a final level of engagement that is the target of education programming – that of the mission. Learning begins with the student, is structured to meet the needs of the organization, and provides the support needed to help individuals and organizations achieve their mission. MNA believes nonprofit education stretches beyond the realm of business-as-usual into the unique and diverse missions that our members represent. We start and end with the why for nonprofits. For example, our Build Your Best Team workshop will provide skill development for an individual to help meet the needs of their organization, with an objective of supporting a particular mission – not simply the increase of a profit margin. This component is instrumental to our curriculum design, influencing our course selection and the methods in which we deliver training.

As we structure our education programming, we keep these three tiers of outcomes in mind, providing knowledge for the learner, resources for the organization, and support for the mission. We offer training opportunities in areas ranging from financial management to board governance and leadership, through methods such as webinars, workshops, and requested group training. We invite you to visit our websiteconsult our calendar, or contact us for a full list of training opportunities to meet the needs of yourself, your staff, your organization, and your mission.