• Mark Topley

A New Chapter – Part 2

And so, to the second part of my new venture – helping non-profits and their leaders get clarity, get focussed and get organised.

‘The devil is in the detail’, is an often quoted lament I hear from people managing programmes, projects and generally trying to make things happen. But for me, this is only half the picture. The real challenge comes well before we get to the detail. The first stage is crystallising a great idea for both the leader and their team – so everyone knows exactly what they are trying to achieve. And then to plot a path to delivering it – where everyone understands how their work contributes to making the great idea happen. Once you’ve started delivering the plan, that’s when the ‘detail devil’ comes in, and teams need to have a culture and attitude of ‘adapt and overcome’.

I’ve always had a knack of being able to break big ideas down into smaller parts, to work out the key strategies that would make them happen, to see the options for how we could get from where we are to where we want to be. It has been really exciting to be in from the startup of two great charities, shape the vision and plot the course to getting them up and running, and then develop them to maturity and success.

But that’s only half the story. The real learning and experience that I have gained has been done the hard way, at the coal face, and in some pretty tough environments, and that’s the attitude and skill of being able to pivot when things go wrong. It’s one of the qualities I am most proud to see exhibited in the Bridge2Aid teams in the UK and East Africa that I worked with – the ability to move very quickly through disappointment to assessment and action when the wheels start to come off a project. And we’ve had them at every level:

  1. The operational – when the flight carrying 25 volunteers is cancelled 600 miles away at 6pm, or the team’s bus is in a road accident on the way from the airport, or Immigration arrive at a training site and halt the whole programme until (already answered) questions about visas are addressed.

  2. And the strategic – when your largest donor significantly downgrades the last instalment of their 3 year grant with 3 months notice…

The benefit for me of walking through those challenging, often very stressful and frustrating events, is that not much fazes me nowadays. And it’s my drive to make good use of that experience and perspective, together with my passion to help teams and organisations achieve their full potential, that is the energy behind this part of the business. For non-profits, I will be:

  1. Helping leaders to step back and get perspective on their organisations and where they want to go

  2. Helping them get clear on their vision, and create a strategy to deliver it

  3. Working with leaders and their teams to create plans from their strategy, get organised, and develop a ‘pivoting’ culture

I already have charities I am working with and talking to about how I can help. I am very excited about what they can achieve. If you have a problem you think I can help with, or you’d just like a conversation, you can contact me now.

Image © Jamie Burg & Kevin Beck

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