Strategic serendipity: Luck the DFW way

Is it luck, good fortune or just being in the right place at the right time. Whatever, DFW is the beneficiary of a lot of it — finding the right people when we need them, being in the right mind-space when we need to be. It’s luck the Dining for Women way — strategic serendipity.

By Barb Collins
Chair, Board of Directors

In our rapidly changing world when so many things seem out of our control, the old way of doing business is slow in keeping up with trends and great ideas.  The dynamic nature of Dining for Women has a rich history of the right people walking in at just the right time.  Sometimes we call it fate.  Sometimes we call it luck.

Serendipity, as defined by Miriam Webster, is luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for.  Or as the Urban Dictionary describes it, a very good coincidence, often leading to something really awesome. The authors of “Get Lucky”, Thor Muller and Lane Beeker, present cultivating luck, or serendipity, as a means to succeed in today’s world.

This has been true for our organization. One reason for our success is being open to integrating new ideas into our day-to-day operations.  Another is that our mission and business model developed organically, and often rides on the crest of innovation. And of course, serendipity.

In the last few years, following periods of exponential growth, scalable processes and systems were developed to support a tripling of chapters and members.  There were so many new faces and voices that we were concerned about remaining mission-centric and committed to founding values.

At the DFW 10th year anniversary celebration in June 2013, a member handed a book to Marsha Wallace called “Hum: Using Connective Change to Lead Your Organization to Greater Purpose and Harmony”.  There on page 22, was a paragraph describing how Dining for Women models connective change.  This year, when the DFW Board of Directors initiated a strategic planning process, we asked the author, Dr. Sherry Schiller, to guide us through the process.

When we began the executive director search in June, our path intersected with Sandy Ward, a DFW member from New York.  Responding to a call to action at the Women of the World conference, Sandy had reached out to us offering to share her expertise with Dining for Women. As Senior Vice President, Human Resources at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, her expertise is leading an inclusive search process involving board members, chapter and regional leaders and staff.

At a time when our nine regional leaders are managing 430 active chapters throughout the United States, Dr. Sharon Buckmaster reached out to DFW to share her life-long interest and expertise in leadership development, especially women in leadership. In early September, Sharon led our discussions at the inaugural regional leader retreat in Chicago.

These are three examples out of hundreds of instances of serendipity within the Dining for Women community.  The challenge is to recognize it, channel it, and combine it with our passion for our mission.

I believe that by nurturing serendipity, we strengthen the impact we make in the world. Transforming the lives of women and girls through collective action. Through strategic serendipity. The Dining for Women way.


About the author

Barb Collins is the co-founder and current board chair of Dining for Women. She has 30 years of experience in non-profit management and board development. Barb’s work with Dining for Women has been fueled by a desire to do something “impactful” with her life and her skills.