Goodbye Ops Blog, Hello Ed Blog

Goodbye: Closing out the Ops Blog (all 5 entries of it, oops) with a few final thoughts on what I’ve taken away from doing nonprofit operations (or a small slice of it, anyway). As part of my transition process, I wrote out a financial procedures manual for the incoming Finance person. I tried to boil down the big picture/higher level stuff and came up with the following points:

  • Document well. Make backups anyway. In case something gets lost, having a second (or third) copy and a second (or third) plan keeps things running without dropping the ball. Multiple systems also provide multiple angles as a system of checks.
  • Create checks and balances. Our finance system is designed to prevent theft from happening as a worst case scenario. We always have someone approve something before a financial transaction and no one should ever pay anything they approve. Likewise, if there are any problems as we innovate with the finance system, a system of checks and balances helps catch problems and blindspots as they arise.
  • Keep it as simple as necessary and no simpler (Albert Einstein. Our Communications person is also fond of this saying). While we aim to have lean, efficient systems, we don’t want to remove anything that is necessary. Likewise, we realize there are no shortcuts, especially with documenting finances.

Hello: Tomorrow, I begin coursework for a Master’s in Secondary Education. To say I’m scared is probably a bit of an understatement. Today, I planned to start homework (2 pages on my relationship with math, which I am super excited to start writing), but was sidetracked (severely) by this amazing post on “Letters to a First Year Teacher“. So much good stuff. I wish I could print and memorize it all, but most of the teachers actually advise against that sort of thing. I think it would be awesome to write a Letter from a First Year Teacher at the end of the year. Note: that post, and this one from Dan Meyer, are lighting the fires of bloggerdom (what?!) within me. Make it happen, self.

People and Stories

I am failing at blogging.

Today:

1. Spent time on the phone calling the bank.

2. Went to the bank in person.

3. Ordered practice tests.

4. Reconciled finances (again)

We also spent a notable amount of time reading this website, which talks about how the best way to engage people through nonprofit video is to focus on people and stories, not just the organization. Side note: is that why I never read any successful nonprofit operations blogs?

The Glue Guy

Scene: A Jersey Diner, 11am, Saturday morning, St. Paddy’s Day (irrelevant, sort of)

I’m hanging out with Roommate and Roommate’s parents. Roommate works at an awesome startup. He gets his parents up to date on what he’s been doing. Roommate’s parents (who I’m meeting for the first time, post-5K morning run) ask what I do, to which I hem and haw and then reply, “I do operations and logistics for an education nonprofit.” Followed by: “which means a lot of things.” Followed by: “I don’t really know how to describe that.”

Roommate, who used to work in operations says something to the effect of: “We’re glue guys. We hold things together.” Not in the arrogant sense, but in the sense that you’ve got your mitts in so many pots, all over the place and it’s impossible to describe all of these little things that you do and obsess over without going into the level of detail that makes people’s eyes glaze over. I’m somewhat planning to use this description whenever someone asks me what I do. (Note: he was much more inspiring than that, but I had woken up early and forgot to order coffee after the race)

Side note: Small town Jersey (Trees. Community feel. Easy access to the main street.) makes me nostalgic. Riding the St. Paddy’s Day train back into the city with drunken youngin’s does not.

“We’re glue guys. We hold things together.”

Glue