Creating and Sharing Your Vision
4 February 2014 at 9:17 am
|Hear and Say Executive Director and Founder Dimity Dornan AM.|
Westpac Social Sector Banking spoke with one of its finalists in the 2013 Community Leaders Awards, Dr Dimity Dornan AM, Executive Director and Founder of Hear and Say.
Dimity shares some insights gathered after 21 years of helping thousands of deaf children to hear, listen and speak.
If you don’t know where you want to go, you’ll never get there
Having a vision is important for all Not for Profits, big and small, says Dimity.
“Your vision includes your purpose, values, and how your organisation relates to all the people it works with. It’s a firm concept of the future.
“If you can have a steady vision and you never waver from it, you have a very good opportunity of achieving it, because all the choices you make are put through that filter,” attests Dimity.
The best way to predict the future is to invent it
Imagine and innovate, says Dimity. “I’ve always subscribed to the view that if we can imagine it, we can do it, and we can be it.”
Dimity spends a large portion of her time engaged in outward-looking activities: attending conferences on neuroscience, sharing ideas globally, and engaging with clinics outside of the organisation.
Abreast of technological advances in bioscience, attune to the economic environment, and an ardent advocate for the family as partners in a child’s journey to hearing, Dimity uses all her knowledge to carve a space for Hear and Say, ahead of the curve of innovation.
Turning data into knowledge
Collecting data from within your field, or about your outcomes, is not enough, says Dimity.
“You need to talk and read widely, and create sets of information that you can compare with other sources of information, until finally, you create knowledge,” she says.
“Measuring outcomes and producing benchmarks for comparison is important to the people you are seeking to help. Employees, supporters, partners, and the general community all benefit from your applied knowledge.
“When you pair your knowledge with possibilities, you are creating an evidence base for your future service.”
After attending a conference, Dimity spends hours distilling information so it contributes to the knowledge base of the organisation.
Supporting your Vision with a plan
Dimity believes that Not for Profits must operate using good business principles. Use logic to temper your vision with reality – for example, if you know the size of your budget, you can work within that to set prioritised, realistic goals.
Time-framed action plans can steer the organisation towards the vision.
Generating meaningful engagement
At Hear and Say, parents of young clients, and all members of the clinical and administrative teams are included in mapping the vision of the organisation, and plans are shared with everyone.
The risk of not doing that, says Dimity, is that parts of your organisation don’t know where you are headed, and it becomes difficult to achieve goals.
“Everyone needs to know what success is going to look like,” she says.
Visit the Hear and Say website and you will see blogs, videos, testimonials and case studies – all delivering the consistent message of optimism that children with hearing loss can reach their full potential.
With an ideal time to engage families with the hopeful vision for their child’s future being in the first ten minutes, the passion and purpose of the organisation is articulated at all entry points – whether that be the website, reception desk, or the atmosphere that greets a family as they walk through the doors for the first time.
“All our staff are very good at communicating the thrill we feel when we see children develop and achieve their goals,” explains Dimity.
Dimity draws inspiration for herself from the children and families whose lives are changed by Hear and Say, and the people and sayings she comes across.
A note currently on her desk is a quote reportedly from Aristotle: “Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort and intelligent execution. It represents wise choice of many alternatives, and it’s choice – not chance – that determines your destiny.”
When asked how often she re-visits the Vision for Hear and Say, Dimity says triumphantly: “I don’t visit it; I live it!”
To read more about Hear and Say’s Vision, click here.