Transformative Organizational Development: United for Reproductive & Gender Equity

To put it simply, United for Reproductive & Gender Equality (URGE), and in their own words,[1] they are a bold, young, queer, trans, non-binary, gender inclusive, and a multi-racial reproductive justice organization. Last year, Rivera Consulting, Inc., launched a nine-month strategic change management service project that includes participatory asset-based evaluation, strategic planning, and roll out planning. We are employing conventional project management tools to manage, monitor, and communicate progress. This is then being combined with economic democracy, participatory asset mapping, and popular education methodology.

 Too often organizational development is exclusively about changing structures, behavior, and programming/policy. This approach fails often in the public and movement building sector because it does not account for the high value placed on social change, interpersonal relationships, and stakeholder engagement.  This value means that generating and cultivating trust is the secret sauce that builds buy in for future plans. How often do we create new structures and new policies but stick to the same behavior?  Pretty darn often. Just look at the old filing case.

 The desired outcome of our approach is to improve participation at all layers of the organizations by creating the space and mediums (e.g. board retreats, community planning activities, or asset-based interview surveys) for students, alumni, senior leaders, junior, staff, and external stakeholders to come together and/or based on their responsibilities while building trust, value alignment, and relationships. We address what scares people based of their lived and professional experiences as well as what drives their commitment to this work. Our approach requires that our clients seek to deepen their engagement beyond the conventional ladder of citizen participation by co-creating, co-analyzing, and co-producing key deliverables and outcomes. This highly collaborative approach scaffolds the buy in process throughout the engagement; thereby, helping reduce the possibility that the plan ends up in the old filling case.  It allows for senior leadership teams to identify what is creating tension and excitement well in advance of a final plan.

Using a mixed method social science analysis, we will conduct a rigorous asset mapping analysis to understand results from the interviews from both a quantitative and qualitative framework. We will then take the results of this asset driven evaluation to inform the focus areas for the organization’s strategic plan and community planning activities to design on the top focus areas that emerge. To help support the strategic plan development, we will also partner with electoral lawyers to identify the governance structures that would best advance this work forward. Moreover, to increase buy in of the final plan, we will identify key programmatic areas for community planning activities for the board, staff, and members. Lastly, we will convene all staff to develop a roll out plan to activate the plan in 2020.

By adopting our deep democracy toolkit, an urban planning, political and social change tool kit, URGE is dually addressing the systems shift necessary for who URGE wants to become in the future and a three-year plan to operationalize this vision. Stay tuned to hear more about the process and final results!

PS. We had a pretty busy April, for updates on recent news from our team at Rivera Consulting, Inc. and our clients please visit our in The News Page.

[1] Formerly ChoiceUSA, co-founded by Gloria Steinem, renown feminist activist, organizer, and writer. For more information please go to brief video called About Name Change.