The MACPA and the Business Learning Institute help CPAs make a difference to their clients and to give back to the community at large. BLI’s i2a strategic planning process has far-reaching results, and not just for CPAs.
Last week, MACPA / BLI had an opportunity to give back to the community beyond what one might expect, into different and meaningful territory. Facilitators used the i2a process to work with a group of young professionals from The Children’s Guild, a non-profit service organization dedicated to serving children and adolescents in Maryland and Washington, D.C., who have trauma disorders, who have been traumatized by life experiences, or who have autism spectrum disorder and / or multiple disabilities. Founded in 1953, The Children’s Guild has become one of the largest providers of special education, group living, treatment foster care, and family mental health services in Maryland. The young, bright professionals we worked with are, for the most part, just out of graduate school and have been employed for only six months. They all have master’s degrees in social work, and most are licensed clinicians serving the needs of at-risk children throughout Maryland and D.C.
Using the i2a process and led by senior i2a facilitator Amy Stumme and assisted by Becky Conley, the group started the conversation using the SCOT analysis tool. SCOT is a way of looking at an organization’s strengths, challenges, opportunities and threats. Strengths and challenges are internal to an organization; opportunities and threats are attributed to the environment. It is very similar to the popular Stamford Business School SWOT analysis, but it differs in that it has the added step of flipping challenges into opportunities. Humans instinctively focus on the negatives and barriers. The facilitators assisted the group in identifying the challenges they face every day in the workplace and provided a platform for them to work through them.
With the guidance and structure of the i2a tools, the participants also created an extensive list of strengths within their organizations and then flipped the identified challenges into opportunities. Using a large graphic wall chart, the group was able to share, see and appreciate exactly what they have to contend with and how they are still able to draw on their strengths to create strategies to move beyond the obstacles.
The second part of the afternoon was focused on a core values exercise, using the Values Inventory Assessment, or VIA. Values are the foundation, and the decisions we make on a daily basis in work and our personal lives should reflect those guiding beliefs that are held dear. After an in-depth and thoughtful discussion surrounding the top five values, the attendees broke into two small groups to share how their values guide the work they do every day. As members of a “helping profession” and in a room full of people who want to make a difference in the lives of children and families, the conversation was both poignant and enlightening. With strong values that are consistent and intact, people are empowered to make clear choices that make it easier to guide their work and lives in a meaningful way.
Amy and Becky wrapped it all up by congratulating the group on the important work they do and to their dedication to not only doing meaningful work but also doing it well.
Steve Howe, vice president of services for Children, Families and Communities, emphasized that the work affected the young professionals that MACPA / BLI directly work with and, more importantly, will help contribute to the lives of the students they represent.
“All of life is interconnected and the staff who participated in Friday’s event represent the over 1,100 students we serve every day in our Services for Children, Families and Communities,” Howe said. “Amy’s and Becky’s skills and talents played a key role in us becoming even more effective in serving these vulnerable, at-risk students and their families. It can probably not be quantified what exactly the impact has been, but the qualitative measure will certainly say the day was successful in helping to make us better.”
It was a pleasure to work with such a bright, motivated and positive group of young professionals. MACPA / BLI was grateful for the opportunity to give to those who give.