Core Competencies: Operations

Flexibility is important for contracts, office management, and human resources. The ability to be nimble in terms of office operations was a key tenet of the NPO, given the breadth and depth of AF4Q.

Contractor: The scale and duration of AF4Q funding necessitated the NPO becoming proficient in directing, executing, and managing contracts. The comprehensive approach to handling contract flow involved multiple NPO staff, both financial and programmatic considerations, and a collaborative joint decision-making process that required strategic structuring of NPO teams—that is, the NPO formed content area teams to mirror TA providers’ expertise.

Leader: NPO leadership recognized the need to be nimble and visionary, and was cognizant of the importance of dedicated staff to carry out its functions given the duration and size of AF4Q. The NPO made strategic decisions about what to handle in-house (i.e. “make”) and what to outsource (i.e. “buy”).

Cultivator: The complex and innovative nature of AF4Q necessitated establishing a talented, diverse, and team-oriented staff. The NPO cultivated a collaborative culture and developed deep bench strength so that there was expertise within the team, individuals were cross-trained, and knowledge and skills were housed within multiple teams. Such staff investment contributed to the NPO’s organizational capacity, flexibility, and its ability to implement.

Given the scope and complexity of AF4Q, the NPO focused substantial resources on building the infrastructure needed to support such a long-lasting and comprehensive project. The structure of staff, processes, and communication mechanisms constantly evolved over the course of AF4Q in order to make the Foundation’s vision operational and to support the grantees in their efforts to meet program expectations.