On Our Minds
Working with so many organizations across multiple issue areas gives us a unique view into what’s happening in the social sector. This is where we share our insights and ruminations.
The High ROI of Human Capital
May 23, 2016, Chicago, IllinoisI had the honor of taking part in A Better Chicago’s inaugural Education Summit this past week. The vibrant event convened business, civic and academic leaders to explore how philanthropy can accelerate change and deliver a world-class education to every Chicagoan. I participated on a panel discussing the high ROI of human capital. My fellow panelists included Michael Milkie, CEO and superintendent of Noble Network of Charter Schools; Melinda Spooner, partner of The Management Center; and Sarah Berghorst, Chicago executive director of OneGoal. The panel was moderated by Doug Scott, A Better Chicago’s incoming president. In the audience were many of the region’s most active philanthropic funders and leaders of social sector initiatives. Doug opened our panel by asking the audience: “How many of you would say an organization’s Talent is a top-three priority when considering whether to fund it?” Virtually every hand went up. Why, then, has leadership development historically represented a mere one percent of overall foundation giving? Today’s foundations are measuring and analyzing practically every aspect of their grantee programs in order to ensure that resources are being used to drive meaningful, efficient and timely impact. However, without the proper leaders in place, there is little chance that social sector organizations will ever realize their missions. Our panelists shared their unique experiences and perspectives:
- Michael explained how he and the other leaders of Noble were able to deploy strategic, long-term, instructional and administrative leadership development programs that have enabled them to grow from one small school in 1999 to nearly 20 schools and over 1200 employees today.
- Melinda pointed out how often she’s witnessed funders choosing to invest in tangible initiatives like strategic planning, yet how infrequently she’s seen social sector organizations find philanthropic support for proper talent planning that aligns to organizational goals.
- Sarah highlighted OneGoal’s emphasis on “The Three P’s”: Process, Product and People. While OneGoal’s use of dashboards has helped them to drive significant gains on Process and Product, they only recognize true success when their People are happy and engaged.