For the last seven years, Safal Partners has been immersed in improving outcomes for education clients, so you would think we were settling into a routine. By all accounts, 2017 was a special year for us: new directions and exciting projects with a growing list of collaborators, clients and friends. Our team grew remarkably, with new people who add tremendous capacity and expertise. And our range of products, services, and technology expanded to allow us to help our partners accelerate, deepen, and achieve their highest priorities.
I founded Safal not to be the biggest consulting firm in education, but to be recognized by our clients as the most effective. To reach that height, we need to understand what we do to help our clients’ efforts to improve outcomes for the people they serve. I focus on “good outcomes;” and that is literally what “Safal” means in Sanskrit.
Our perspective across education allows us to observe dynamic organizations and important endeavors across the nation. I have three observations to share that inform my thinking and our work:
1. First, Connections are crucial. Our partners overcome isolation and compartmentalization to connect their people, programs, and institutional goals. For Safal, that can be as simple as taking a traditional webinar, and turning it into a “coffee chat,” allowing key audiences to use technology to sit down at a small table with national experts in their field for an intimate conversation.
2. Second, deep Change is taking place everywhere. No one is slowing down. This presents incredible opportunities. It also involves tricky challenges that require a strategic approach but also the ability to execute on the details. The pace and ambition of the innovations and changes our partners pursue are inspiring to many, but that is not enough. It takes quality work and exceptionally managed implementation to turn inspiration into tangible outcomes. We change the traditional management consulting approach. As a small consulting firm, I was often advised about developing a highly focused niche. The ex-McKinsey consultant in me has always rebelled at that idea, and I have determined that our niche is the fact that we are a 100 percent focused on education. Within that education niche, we are extraordinarily broad – with our diverse team taking on a range of projects from visioning to delivering on the long tail of implementation support.
3. Third, Data needs to inform, not confuse. Reams of education data do not improve the system and can be a bigger hindrance than help. We combine our educational roots with cutting-edge technology infrastructure. This allows clients to cut through the noise to produce meaningful connections. And while we help clients find value in older research and data, insights into their current reality are far more important. Modernizing the application of data, so that it is useful to people on the ground, is crucial to maintaining public support for evidence-based practices.
At Safal, our most successful engagements revolve around these three dynamics. By understanding our clients’ needs, and adjusting our own work, we are accelerating theirs, filling functional gaps, and helping them achieve the outcomes they value most. We see this in our strands of work supporting innovations in K-12, and the growth in our work in preparing people for meaningful careers. You can read more about our work supporting federal and state agencies, nonprofits and foundations, and school districts and charters.
What I am personally most proud about is our success in building an amazing team. The people who choose to work at Safal could really be successful anywhere, and I am happy and humbled that they are part of the Safal family. We have grown bigger, more diverse, more skilled, and maintained the passion that we bring to work every day. Our evolving mix of in-house and national subject matter experts has allowed us to extend our capacity to deliver on a range of our client’s needs. Our capacity continues to grow in other ways, including our ability to apply data visualization and technology tools, to deliver insights that are increasingly key to contemporary work in education.
We are a small business that strives to make a big impact. We desire a nation where every educator and every parent sleeps well at night knowing that every child has a chance to be great. Our clients don’t intend to stop until this goal is met. And neither do we.
Looking forward to an amazing 2018!
Founder and President