Becoming a Group: One Team, Two Offices

Pinch me. It’s all of a sudden become real for the whole team and our two Boards at Good Things that we’re a lively, committed Group of real people working hard to make a better world for excluded people in the UK and in Australia.

How did we get here?

Today Jess, our National Director in Australia, boarded a plane to head back to rejoin the team in Sydney. She followed Allison, Dur-E-Shahwar, and Robert, who had left at the weekend, and Greg, our Chair of Good Things Australia who left on Friday. They had all been in the UK to take part in a week of Good Things Foundation Group working, team building, and celebrations.

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A photo of Dur-E-Shahwar, Jess, Allison, Greg, and Robert, with me in our Sheffield office, shortly after they arrived last week

Last Thursday it was, coincidentally, exactly a year since we got the news from the Australian Government that we had won a big contract to establish, recruit, and support a pan-Australia digital inclusion network as part of their Be Connected programme. And wow what a year we’ve had! As well as helping 320,000 excluded people improve their lives in that year in England, and much, much more (see the Annual Review here) – we’ve set up a new office on the other side of the world, recruited a new team, and started our work with such energy and expertise that we’ve established a network of almost 1,400 hyperlocal partners in just 10 months.

The day after our first Group Board with both Jess and Greg in physical attendance, we had our first Group workshop – a morning of collaboration, joint planning, developing ideas, and importantly getting to know each other. The words I’ve heard from my colleagues since are words like pride, vision, enthusiasm, impact, and about not just knowing we’re a Group but feeling like a Group.

How did we do this?

We’ve reflected on this and something that comes through strongly is that we had a vision, we have clear values and we stay true to our core purpose, and then we just believed in one another (in the UK and in Australia) and used our energy, experience, and can-do attitude to make it happen.

This isn’t all about the UK experts exporting our knowledge and passions to another country, it’s about recruiting a great team in Australia and it’s about reflecting and listening and adapting and evolving for a new context. And doing this at pace.

It’s about having an amazing team of people who believe in the vision but who are also committed to collaboration and to working hard (very hard) for what they believe in, and in parallel to growing and doing amazing things in the UK at the same time. A colleague coined a great phrase for this last week “One Team, Two Offices”. Two offices on opposite sides of the world and in very difficult time zones (especially hard in the British winters!).

What else did I learn last week?

Being in the same room instead of being on Google Hangouts is different, is better sometimes, and now we’re a Group something we know we’ll be doing again.

I can’t wait to see what we get done between now and when we meet as a Group same time next year.

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Team selfie taken by Jess, our National Director of Good Things Australia and includes some of our great UK and Australian Team Members as well as our Group Chair, Liz Williams