November & December theme:
“Choose One Thing”
Posted in :  Community Works, Friday Lunch

As Fathom continues exploring how to make doing good in our community a part of who we are, I’ve been thinking a lot about group dynamics.

Why do some ideas generated by groups live and thrive while others die on the vine? The same thing could be said for you as an individual too. What makes something maintainable in your life, and why do some things fade away?

Scale is definitely a factor. If you have a lot of chefs in the kitchen all working on the same meal, the output could be great or a disaster depending on how people collaborate. If you are one person making an awesome dinner, the work is on you. If you are 15 people making dinner, the output can scale up, allowing you to feed more people, but so can the risk of losing cohesion with the common goal.

An awesome poster we received from the Groton CT Head Start program after helping a family with Christmas during a very difficult time.

To avoid the disaster in the kitchen, we are working on clarifying what the group is working towards, with each person telling the group how they’d like to participate in that shared commitment.

Today at Friday Lunch we discussed how to put words around what we’re committed to. We’re not there yet but we are certain about two things:

1 – That how we help our community will be akin to how we are with clients. We get paid to help clients create lasting impact — from uncovering the truth about who they are to designing a website that has brand longevity. We have a hunch that we won’t be able to stop ourselves, that we will naturally gravitate to seeking the truth of something and then finding ways to unleash new possibilities. So, what will this look like when we volunteer our time to help others? As we noodled on that, we also came to this . . .

2 – We’d like to bring our Fathom and personal skills to our volunteering efforts. One thing we are all in agreement on is that we are interested in having direct impact to an organization or a person. Part of this is getting hands-on (no big check writing and then calling it a day) and the other part is adding value that we can bring to the table because of who we are and what we do.

Adding value in the Fathom way means finding different ways to apply ourselves than what the nonprofit organization might not have considered. For instance, we are volunteering for a day at Junior Achievement in April. We could gain a lot from showing up and doing our time. But, we see that investing time into documenting the day and then sharing our experience after its over will have a more lasting impact for them.

The official public-facing words of our commitment to our philanthropic efforts is on the horizon. In the meantime, we are doing good where we can and we’re staying close to what we’re creating here. We see that there is a lot of learning to come in how we can work as a team and how to effectively build philanthropy into the everyday habits of a culture.

And, when I look at it through the lens of culture, I see that group dynamics can have its roots there. Having 15 cooks in the kitchen has more opportunity to fail if even just one person is not passionate about what they’re doing and clear about what the group is taking on. But, if you’re all working from the same recipe book and really love being in that kitchen, what you create can be delicious and fulfilling. And it can last beyond your time at the table.

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Posted by: Suzi Craig
Email the author: suzi@fathom.net