Words by Rachel Coleman. Images by Ryan Lomas
Today we're releasing our 2022 Annual Impact Report. To mark its release, our Comms Manager Rach has shared some thoughts on the process of writing, and why reflection is a powerful tool for community organisations.
Reflection has been, in the course of my own life, an inherent practice.
It wasn’t until university that I truly realised for others it was a much more complex, challenging or altogether unenjoyable process. Reflection requires an accuracy of memory, an ability to place distance between ourselves and our past actions, and the humility to be honest about what we would’ve done differently.
It wasn’t that these were easy to access or always enjoyable for me, but rather that to my own mind, to look forward requires a looking back. Like our own breath needs the exhale as well as an inhale, knowing which direction to go requires the surety that only comes from looking at that which has passed, the journey before. Not always a full retrospective, but sometimes a glance over our shoulder on the trail, a sense of where we’ve been and how it shapes where we’re going.
Reflection as a practice has, in one way or another, transferred into most professional settings. Most organisations undertake ‘annual reports’ or ‘in year evaluations’ - but for many this becomes an exercise for a particular outcome, rather than part of an ongoing and ingrained organisational process. How often in adult life are we invited and given time to reflect purely for the benefit of expanding our knowledge, understanding and therefore our future endeavours?
To me this is why the TFT Annual Impact Report has been, more than anything, a completely unique process. We have produced a document to be shared, yes, but we have, as a team, also dedicated considerable time over the last few weeks to reflect on the previous year. On all it held and offered, on where we achieved and where we fell down, on what challenges we overcame and the surprises along the way.
I can only describe it as a joyful interrogation - to look back together, to celebrate and commiserate, to acknowledge and uplift one another, and to see how much we’ve grown. It’s easy for us, as such a small team, to get lost in the day-to-day. Writing the Annual Impact Report has given us the opportunity to turn around on the trail, and see the landscape we’ve travelled through from a new perspective. More than that - it's allowed us to do it together.
And better yet - we have emboldened our planning for 2023 with the knowledge and hindsight this reflective process has provided for us. This year we’re emphasising quality over quantity, we’re trying new ways of working together, and we’re doubling down on what we know our community loves. All of that which has informed our Route Map for 2023 has been reinforced by the lessons of 2022.
So yes - it’s just an Annual Impact Report. It’s a long document with lots of numbers in. But for me, it means more than that too - it’s an artefact truly crafted by teamwork, it’s the outcome of a collaborative process, a chapter in our community’s history. It’s a meeting place, between who we were before, and who we arrive as now, and who we want to be at that final destination.
So - who’s coming along for the ride?
We’d love to hear how reflection is embedded in your personal and professional work. Whether it’s as an individual or organisation, what does reflection mean to you and your team? Share your thoughts with us on firstname.lastname@example.org