Cross-post: Two Years into Our Journey - Lessons in listening and humility

  • By Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, October 14, 2019

Carolyn Wang Kong of the Blue Shield of California Foundation recently reflected on the lessons of listening, equity and humility that the foundation is learning as they are two years into their “strategic plan refresh.” This post originally appeared on Blue Shield of California Foundation’s website. To read the complete post, please visit their website.

What started out two years ago as a simple “strategic plan refresh” quickly became a completely new direction for Blue Shield of California Foundation in our journey to make California the healthiest state and to end domestic violence. After having been rooted in supporting the health and domestic violence safety net for more than a decade, we became deeply aware of the strengths, challenges, and limitations of those systems. We had also come to understand that those systems were not going to end domestic violence or solve poor health and well-being in California, at least not alone. We knew that if we truly wanted to prevent poor health and domestic violence, we needed to shift. We needed to advance the mindsets, methods, and tools that would enable our state to address the root causes of poor health and violence in California. The “destination” we had in mind was a point where the kind of work we have historically supported — helping individual survivors of domestic violence and aiding efforts to improve health and healthcare across the state — is no longer conducted in a crisis atmosphere because our communities have a shared commitment and values towards prevention.

In starting this journey, we knew we were going to be in new spaces, forming new and additional relationships, and learning as we go. Our history in the space of health and domestic violence gave us a sense of where we wanted to go and a generalized idea how we would find a path, or multiple paths, to this destination.

Our bird’s-eye view of approaching our goal pointed to:

  • Breaking the cycle of domestic violence by healing those who are currently in violent relationships, while also promoting prevention by addressing the impact of exposure to violence on younger generations.
  • Collaborating for healthy communities by bringing people and programs together to use their collective influence in new ways to address complex social drivers and pinpoint the fundamental elements that allow healthy partnerships to thrive.
  • Designing the future of health by creating innovative spaces for testing and learning to generate breakthrough ideas that foster long-term health, safer families, and thriving communities.

Now that we’ve moved further down those paths toward our ultimate goals, we have realized that “what” we focus on is almost as equally as important as “how” we do the work. We learned that our impact is only about half related to the grants we make, and the other half is about the capabilities we build and how we show up to do that. On this point of the “how”, several strong inter-related themes have emerged. They are centered around the concepts of listening, equity, and humility.

Head over to Blue Shield of California Foundation’s website to continue reading.