Over a Cup of Coffee – Conversation with Luca and Rafa

"Dianova has entered a maturity phase, a point where organizations are much less preoccupied with themselves than they are attentive to what they are able to achieve"

During the annual meetings of the Dianova network, held in Palma de Mallorca (Spain) on 21-23 October, we had the opportunity to have a coffee with Luca Franceschi and Rafa Goberna, respectively President of Dianova International and consultant in individual and organizational development – Rafa has been collaborating with Dianova since 1999. Both men know the organization well and share insights about Dianova’s annual meetings and the future of the organization.

View photos of the event (album: "Encuentros de la Red Dianova Palma 2015)

Over 50 delegates from each member organization in Europe and the Americas have attended the event. In three days, the Board of Directors’ meeting, the 11th “Management & Development Seminar” and Dianova’s annual Assembly of Delegates were held successively. This year’s seminar was dedicated to the implementation of Dianova’s 2016-2020 strategic planning. 

What are your thoughts on this three-day event?

Luca Franceschi: it seems to me that the organizations has finally entered its maturity phase. After starting an activity in a given organization, there’s a pioneering phase usually followed by a period that could be defined as the phase of adolescence. From there, two possibilities can be considered: either this organization is to fail prematurely, or else it can later on enter its maturity phase. Maturity can be defined as the point where organizations are much less preoccupied with themselves than they are attentive to what they are able to achieve. 

Participants in the Dianova Network's yearly meeting

Rafa Goberna : I feel like we have reached a turning point. Dianova’s previous strategic plans since 1998 have served to take the organization where it is now. And we have now entered a phase which will allow us to give an important qualitative leap.

After these three days, it seems to me that Dianova has embarked on a path that it couldn’t have taken four years ago. This path is a more strategic one and it will take the organization to a different narrative. As Gary Hamel puts it: “If it’s not distinct, it is not strategic”. I think Dianova has been able to implement a number of activities while keeping its very essence. This activities can be qualified as distinctive because they are better suited to the impending environment – hence my feeling of satisfaction, and then it’s been quite a marathon to reach this specific stage.

Luca Franceschi: to add weight to our reflections, I would say that we had always had a line of diversification in mind when devising our previous strategic plans, which meant that we had to move from a drug centered organization to one addressing a wider array of social issues. When we wrote the Dianova network’s annual report we found out that the weight of addiction programs and activities had decreased from 80% to 46%, while we are now responding to other needs such as immigration, gender-oriented issues, minors, social housing, etc.  We know we must do more, but this reality gives us the strength to continue in this direction.

I think one of the greatest challenges is to commit ourselves in further partnering with civil society and third sector organizations to achieve more influence on public policies. Politics should be understood as the Politeia of the ancient Greeks: it can be defined as a participation in the common good. I think that’s what society is expecting from us. Not only should we provide good services, but we also should use our influence to build something that is more consistent, because there is too much inconsistency.

Rafa Goberna: there’s something I’ve liked very much, these workdays have been running smoothly, fluidly. People have been able to learn at their own pace, without forcing their capacity. The organization has developed the same way and this is why we’ve been able to reach today’s turning point. It’s been a very natural walk-through. In addition, a new category of associates has been created which will allow us to enrich the Dianova Network with their input.

Luca Franceschi: This category opens up new possibilities for development. Dianova will hopefully become an organization capable of expanding  its scope of action in other countries and cultures where we are not present today.

Implementing partnerships with organizations operating in very difficult environments will add enormous value to the organization and its people. In a way, Dianova will participate in the building and betterment of the global village. Eventually, it will be a way of thinking about the human being, not in terms of nations and continents, but as a species.

Rafa Goberna: I believe that this 3-day reunion has generated more organizational trust and a greater cohesion. We are on the verge of reaching a common vision of a shared future, and this is very significant to me, but again, I insist that we had to wait until today. There have been various in-depth debates and discussions and greater commitment.

Luca Franceschi: I think it's only fair to self-criticize and this is something we must work on. The organization does achieve concrete results, so I think it’s just fair to talk about what we do. However it behooves us to change our focus to what we can provide, within the sensitivity of the current context. This sensitivity can be transmitted through concrete responses. But at the same time, the organization would make a mistake if it were to become an organization dedicated only to delivering services. 

Dianova must endeavor to make proposals in forums and conferences where we are more likely to achieve a critical mass effect (e.g. through the implementation of partnerships with third sector federations and other organizations, and United Nations and European Union work groups). 

Because the third sector represents between 1 and 3% of western countries GDP, we should become proactive agents in changing the capitalism as we know it today to a system that is more redistributive. Organizations like ours do not oppose the system. However, we believe in the possibility of improving it. In this context, there is an element in which we can bring added value, by helping political institutions and the social economy sector to overcome macro-economic imbalances, without falling into the utopias of the past.

Rafa Goberna: our reason for being is to achieve a society that is more just and equitable. Finally, I would like to stress that the meeting went very well. Our organizations will prepare their strategic plan, then they will implement them, nothing more.

Luca Franceschi: I would like to stress the energy that has been dedicated to the development of the organization’s strategic plan. Over 50 people from the Dianova Network have worked on this plan in the course of the year, and after its approval by the assembly, some 200 people will take over. Once completed, the plan will be shared among the 500 employees of the Dianova network.