Meet Karen Morton
Today I am ‘regrouping’, having had my work plans pushed aside by unexpectedly organising a family funeral. Which was as lovely as such things can be; order of service reflecting lifetime of smiling, in colours that matched the organic, locally grown flowers on the wicker coffin. All Covid-secure, shared guidelines aligned with risk assessment, floor plan showing 2m between family groups, lots of sanitiser, forms to sign.
I stepped up as the organiser, because it is something I am good at. A long time ago I was the CEO of a rapidly growing, medium-sized charity; a role in which, at some point, you have done pretty much everything that needs to be done. And in my 17 years as a consultant I have designed and delivered hundreds of away days, chaired umpteen meetings, organised big and little participatory conferences. I have also, in recent months, driven my local Covid response and helpline, sitting on the emergency committee, in endless zoom meetings. So I am familiar with the opaque guidance from government.
One of my favourite testimonials was given to me some years ago, following development consultancy for two new national charities; starting with a good idea, finishing with the new CEO in post. I share this with an embarrassed cough into the crook of my elbow.
“You have a rare and very valuable combination of skills. You have creativity and vision and a strong understanding of the bigger picture. But unlike many strategic thinkers I have worked with over the years, you also give great attention to detail, applying your experience equally comfortably to governance and the minutiae of protocols and procedures. I have seen this in two organisations that have thrived under your guidance. You can be justifiably proud of your work! And I mean every word of it!”
That combination of skills creates a flexible offer, enhanced by a helpful mindset and deep commitment to the voluntary sector. I am never jobs-worth. If it turns out, after listening carefully, that the issue isn’t quite what it said in the spec, that’s fine. A difficulty between board and staff might actually be addressed through working together to review the objectives and strategic plan. Or maybe new board members have been somehow expected to absorb ethos and culture by osmosis, and some governance sessions would make a difference. Or the work on the business plan is a red herring, and the serious issue is that no one is managing the administration. That the request for bid writing highlights a chaotic, or absent, income strategy, with no systems to gather evidence of impact, or lack of engagement with local strategies or national drivers.
And because I do understand the bigger picture, particularly in fields involving criminal justice, social care, women’s organisations, and local infrastructure, and can also write a risk assessment, or funding bid, assess a staff structure, coach a CEO, or create an enjoyable, interactive away day full of light bulb moments (even on zoom!), I am useful.
And happy to help!