In late September, 2017, a cross-regional and cross-functional group of 22 senior managers were invited to attend, and participate fully in, North Star’s senior management meeting in Mombasa, Kenya. Spending five days on the themes of trust, transparency and unity, the team examined the implementation of our Strategic Outlook 2017-2020, and took the vital first steps in implementing our Objective Five: enhancing governance, leadership and team engagement.

“My first year with North Star I worked closely with our Regional Directors to facilitate the beginnings of change, and we now wanted our next level leadership to be directly engaged.” shares Ylse van der Schoot, Executive Director of North Star Alliance, “To implement our strategy, we first needed our senior management team to be engaged and committed.”

Placed as cornerstones for the week, the topics of trust, transparency and unity, along with engagement, quality and sustainability, were drawn from the results of a questionnaire for our senior managers. Through team building activities, information sharing and looking at our internal (and external) communication practices, we shared learnings and improved cross-regional relationships, breaking down silo-ing of information, building on our internal culture and enhancing our overall operations. A visit to our Jomvu Blue Box clinic formed a highlight, meeting our team and observing the patient flow of a successful clinic and Blue Box laboratory.

Taking the meeting beyond the week, our senior managers volunteered to form three taskforces, focused on organisation-wide objectives within wider themes of engagement, quality and sustainability. Ensuring that our strategic objectives are being implemented from the ground up, this approach is essential for our long-term sustainability and overall take-up by the whole organisation.

The success of our week in Mombasa is clear. Along with positive feedback from staff, we have seen improved communication and relationships, as well as an enhanced sense of trust and safety. Our overall goals and objectives have been met; we have grown a tighter leadership team who trust each other and are willing and able to share learnings and tools across offices and regions.

“In 2018 we plan to build on this with the wider organisation,” says Ylse, “We want to ensure that this cultural change is happening from the ground up and embraced by all staff. Together we are paving the way for North Star to grow to our full potential.”

These first steps investing in our internal governance, leadership and team engagement are essential in reaching the full potential of North Star. Ensuring our foundation is strong and our leaders are aligned, we can move forward in a conscious and more effective manner, together, and begin to achieve bold business results across the organisation. Together, we are excited for what lays ahead.

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Photography | David Childley, Gideon Mendel