A truly global forum for a leading €1-billion global charity to chart its course over the next decade
Oxfam is a leading €1-billion charity with a vision of a kinder, fairer world. They are a global federation and movement of millions of people working together to end poverty, and create a world less divided by borders, money, race or gender.
Our client’s big question
What are our global strategic priorities for the next decade?
As part of a 2-year process to update its global strategy, Oxfam’s Strategy Development Team wanted its global confederation of members to recommend fresh strategic priorities. They asked us, together with the team at ODS, to co-design a three day gathering for 120 Oxfam staff and external stakeholders in Nairobi, Kenya, in September 2019.
The event had to be inclusive, participatory and accountable. It also had to make sense of complex inputs (including 5 global transformative scenarios developed by 1,500 staff members worldwide), and suggest strategic priorities for the next 10 years.
What we did
We had to pack important conversations for a global and diverse crowd into just three days.
Our event design had to help participants see the wood for the trees, looking not only at each issue in depth but also at the organisation’s larger strategic orientations. We needed to bring 120 people up to speed on many complex and interconnected issues, giving them the perspectives needed to shape the organisation’s future direction.
Activists, experts and Oxfam staff came together to listen, learn and collectively make key recommendations. Working closely with the client’s Strategy Development Team and our colleagues at ODS, we organised the ambitious ‘Pathways to the Future’ event around three 1-day steps:
- “Immerse & understand”: Participants immersed themselves deeply in the various issues discussed in previous months, seeking to understand what was at stake each time.
- “Imagine & propose”: Participants worked in small, agile groups to generate proposals for the organisation’s strategic orientation in the 2020–30 decade.
- “Refine & agree”: The group came together around these proposals, refined them, and finally agreed them.
“We are here to think together on how to change the world together.” Winnie Byanyima, executive director of UNAIDS and former Executive Director, Oxfam International
- The concept, arc and format of the gathering
- Various programme elements to fully articulate complex thinking, heed critical voices and genuinely include 120 participants
- The setup of 17 sessions with their goal, detailed plan and outcomes
- The full decision-making process, including templates for working groups to record their proposals
- Detailed guidance for local facilitators to deliver these sessions
“This method of engaging participants really encouraged fresh thinking and active conversations. […] Oxfam had planned the forum to listen to the views of opinion formers, both internally and externally; and I thoroughly enjoyed the energy that resonated from us all through the event.”
– A participant from Nigeria
Impact and feedback
The forum delivered the output needed for the organisation’s various boards to take decisions further down the line, leading to a 10-year strategy to transform Oxfam and its fight against inequality, published in November 2020.