Blog post

Kayleigh talks Systems, People, & Coaching at NTEN's Nonprofit Technology Conference

By 
Kristen Tippit
May 12, 2022

People. Systems. Coaching.

OpenTent loves these three topics but how do they all fit together?

Our Head of Coaching and Co-Owner, Kayleigh Collins spoke about this in her session entitled, "Building systems that work for your people" at this year's Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC22) hosted by NTEN.

The conference is held annually and is the nonprofit sector's signature technology event. Event organizers assemble over 2,000 of the best and brightest nonprofit professionals from around the world. Together, they collaborate, innovate, and discover new ways to spark change with technology.

Kayleigh accomplished all those things at her virtual talk in late March.

Her goal was to teach participants 3 impactful things you can do to setup your team for success. Kayleigh knows firsthand that for folks in charge of building systems for their team, in Salesforce or otherwise, the most frustrating thing is when the system doesn’t actually meet the goal of helping the people you designed it for.

These 3 actions can make a huge difference in creating a successful outcomes for the team:

Creating a clear story and mission to motivate your team ("Good stories change minds. Great stories change the world.")

-Listen and reflect back to users with discovery interviews and surveys (listening tours!)

-Share the plan and user test with your team using an Agile approach

-Constantly sharing the plan of what’s next for your users

Coaching and supporting your team on how to use it to ensure they use it effectively

-Communicating the WHY and making it personal -

-Bring them along, share the big vision of what success is going to feel like

-Understanding what coaching really is - Building a relationship one on one that is solely focused on individuals success

Identifying and empowering system owners by investing in your team to ensure that it works for people using it

-Understanding who is owning the systems and helping the team use them

-Finding someone to become the system owner by asking the right questions -

**Who is building

**Who is listening to users about what they need

**Who is prioritizing

Kayleigh finished her session with a great round of Q&A. Here are some of the amazing questions asked and the answers she gave:

Q: How do your discovery sessions differ when building out a new system for a new program vs when working with something more established?

A. I approach it with a very similar process for both. First of all, don’t make assumptions about what is known or unknown. And also, tweak the questions depending on the situation, to make sure folks feel seen and heard and understood.

Q. What have you found effective as to identifying the power-user level in your pyramid?

A. On our teams we usually have champions and resisters. This could be for a change or in developing new tools. Usually power users (champions) are easy to spot. You just have an instinct - someone has an eye for spreadsheets or tool building, asking the right questions. These are the folks you want to pair with the resisters or others who need a boost.

Q. Do you have any suggestions for when you see that this approach is needed but it isn't coming from leadership?

A. Well this could be its own session! It is so important that leadership is championing systems change and development but they also often don't need to be as much in the weeds. Storytelling works well in communicating needs to leadership. I do think we are seeing a turning point as an industry where leaders see the value in systems changing. It is better framed as capacity building over professional development, especially in the nonprofit sector.

NTC had an incredible lineup of sessions and keynote speakers. OpenTent was excited to participate and share our knowledge and insights with nonprofit leaders and change-makers all over the country. We look forward to more opportunities to talk about the topics we love!

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