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PMNO Perspectives: Pat Ross, Team Rubicon

By: Pat Ross 09 Aug 2018

Patrick Ross is deputy director of field operations for Team Rubicon, an organization that brings together military veterans, first responders, and medical professionals to provide disaster relief domestically and internationally. Ross leads Team Rubicon's volunteer experience for over 80,000 responders. He recently attended Performance Measurement for Effective Management of Nonprofit Organizations and shares his experience below.

How did you hear about the program and why did you decide to attend? This was my third Executive Education course at Harvard University. After each program, it was obvious there was more to learn, so I made a commitment to attend again the next year. Spending a week away from my wife and daughter is always tough, but they understand how experiences like this energize me personally.

Did you experience any "a-ha!" moments during the program? I took ten pages of notes and probably slapped my own forehead at least once an hour. Yes, it sounds simple, but when we discussed the difference between a pilot and a minimum viable product and the opportunities within each, I definitely experienced that "a-ha!" Within my organization, we use both, with varying degrees of accuracy. I had never considered why highlighting the difference matters. Furthermore, understanding the difference in risk tolerances and resource implications helped me understand how to be a participant in helping new ideas take form and new ventures succeed.

How has the program helped you tackle some of the challenges facing Team Rubicon? It's so easy to focus on inputs, activities, and outputs. It takes determined leadership to focus on the attributes that are hard to measure: outcomes and impacts. Having validated frameworks for measurement helps me when my team and I are examining how we operate and measure. We can hold ourselves accountable to our commitments and our mission.

How do you think other executives in similar positions could benefit from the program? Taking a purposeful pause from the daily grind to immerse yourself in focused learning will help push the entire industry forward so we can help more people.

This post was originally published in the HBS Executive Education Resource Library