A Workshop with Oxfam America and Oxfam International
Oxfam America is an international relief and development organization that creates lasting solutions to poverty, hunger and injustice. Together with individuals and local groups in more than 120 countries, Oxfam saves lives, helps people overcome poverty and fights for social justice.
Oxfam International is an international group of independent non-governmental organizations dedicated to fighting poverty and related injustice around the world. The Oxfam work together internationally to achieve greater impact by their collective efforts.”
This project was initiated to strategize how Oxfam America/International’s Private Sector Group may most effectively use their innovative “Poverty Footprint” impact assessment methodology to support their respective missions:
Team preparation for the project began during Fall 2009 with meetings between MIT Sloan Leadership Lab team members and Chris Jochnick, Oxfam America Private Sector Group Director and Roshini Moodley Naidoo, Oxfam America Private Sector Special Advisor. Preparation for the January 2010 interviews and stakeholder analysis included a thorough review of past reports associated with the initial strategy and development of the poverty footprint, as well as an investigation of alternative frameworks and associated methodologies and metrics. In order to maximize openness from Oxfam America and success in January’s activities, the L-Lab team proactively sought in these early months to build a rapport with individuals in the organization in order to foster an open dialog, allowing an honest assessment of the challenges that Oxfam faces.
January 2010 activities included interviews with representatives of the various stakeholders throughout the private the public sector communities including: Oxfam America, Oxfam Great Britain, Oxfam Netherlands, multinational corporations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and private sector reporting agencies. The breadth of these interviews allowed a thorough understanding of how stakeholder perspectives influence their needs and how the ”poverty footprint” has the potential to meet these requirements.
The team’s interviews successfully identified various enacted systems and artifacts both present within each individual organization and among intra-organizational activities that were counter-productive to successful development and adoption of the “poverty footprint”. While the development of some form of enacted systems and associated artifacts are virtually inevitable among global organizations from different backgrounds, the team focused on how to properly enlighten Oxfam America and Oxfam International on the existence of these structures and how they could promote synergistic achievement while minimizing divisive views and sentiments.
The culmination of the study was a series workshops on 4 February 2010 with key individuals from Oxfam America and Oxfam International. Topics of discussion included strategic positioning of their “poverty footprint” methodology in the greater business and governmental ecosystem and what insights were gained from the stakeholder analysis conducted in January. Additionally, great emphasis was placed by the L-Lab team in explaining the significant benefits to be gained through intra-organizational participation through proper communication and alignment of vision and expectations.
The MIT Sloan Leadership Lab team was able to provide a lasting positive impact in the Oxfam organization not only by providing a systemic view of the impact of their habits of thought and actions on others, but also by providing insight from an outsider’s perspective onto a strategically difficult dilemma.
Leading Sustainable Systems (L-Lab) tackles critical issues of leading change in global business sustainability. The course combines an on-site field project experience focused on business critical sustainability initiatives, with systems thinking tools and thought-leading reflective practices that develop personal and collective leadership skills.
L-Lab is organized as a reflective practicum, weaving theory, assignments, guest speakers, living cases, and an immersive project experience. The course uses experiential workshops and interactive class sessions to build students’ leadership capabilities that are essential to generating the social, ecological and economic value of sustainable systems. These capabilities are put into practice when student teams partner with their organizations at the forefront of innovation in sustainable systems, in locations that may be local, national, or international.