Rose City Rollers (RCR) is a Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby league and 501c3 non-profit located in Portland, Oregon. Founded in 2004 to serve women, girls, and gender-expansive roller derby athletes, RCR has created an inclusive community where athletes can realize and harness their power both on and off the rink. The RCR league, well-known across Portland, comprises over 400+ skaters ranging from 7 to 60 years old. The league consists of 17 teams and programs including a recreation program, 8 youth derby teams, 4 adult home teams, and an internationally ranked all-star team, the Wheels of Justice, 4 times and reigning World Champions.
Like many sports leagues, RCR was hit hard by COVID and needed to quickly adapt their offerings to accommodate social distancing guidelines while also supporting their community of skaters. Looking to stay afloat amidst the crisis, the league had to reinvent their revenue streams and they began offering new outdoor skating events as well as other innovative non-skating community events, like drive-in movies, to boost their income and keep the community engaged. These rapid shifts in offerings meant that the team needed to react and coordinate quickly, and team goals needed to be clearly articulated and measured in order to do this.
Prior to adopting Koan, RCR’s goals were high level, open-ended, and relatively difficult to measure. High-level goals were discussed in board meetings, but were never formally articulated, tied to action plans, or assigned to individuals. This made it difficult to pinpoint accountability and track and measure success.
Kim “Rocket Mean” Stegeman, Founder and Executive Director of RCR, had heard about Koan through the local Portland startup community, and decided to roll it out to her team to support these strategic shifts and to encourage team-wide transparency and alignment. Rocket Mean found that Koan helped to clarify these unknowns by formatting goals to have structured and measurable outcomes, as well as assigned leads and contributors. “Koan helped us to pivot from doing roller derby events to roller skating events and encouraged us to assign financial goals to each activity, ” shared Rocket Mean, “Simply the act of documenting the goal and giving it a timeline have been tremendously effective. Also having to negotiate and identify who owns a goal has been illuminating”.
Similarly, she realized that Koan’s OKR goal structure helped her team to not only measure typical quantitative goals, such as revenue targets, but that it also provided a systematized way of tracking more qualitative goals that are typically harder to measure, like operational and cultural initiatives. By forcing the team to develop key results that would signify that an objective was achieved, qualitative goals became much easier to quantify and monitor throughout the quarter.
In addition to changing the way RCR approaches strategic goals, Koan also helped to increase RCR’s team-wide communication, transparency, and prioritization through the process of reflection.
Koan’s foundational workflow of setting and reflecting on goals, the goal-reflection loop, has helped the Rose City Rollers team be flexible and forward thinking when it comes to business strategy in the rapidly changing economic environment of COVID. All RCR staff members complete their weekly reflections on Fridays as a means to close out one week and prep for the next, and every Tuesday the team reconvenes to review their goals with Koan’s presentation mode feature. Rocket Mean explained that developing the habit is an iterative process but that it has proven to be valuable, “While the reflection cycle has taken time to build and isn’t a perfect habit yet, we can see the value in regular reflection and the positive impact it has on our team”. Nonetheless, this cycle yielded results quickly, and it has given the RCR team a way to routinely look at goal progression, and has built the intentional space for the team to proactively identify goal progress or blockers and to pivot accordingly.
Looking at the year in retrospective, the RCR team found value in Koan’s ability to help them articulate and measure their goals as well as to communicate and execute as a team through reflections, ultimately giving them the tools they needed to face the unprecedented challenges imposed on them during the COVID-19 crisis. Rocket Mean described the value of Koan’s workflow of creating and reflecting on goals stating, “This process helped us to layer smaller achievable goals into creating a larger impact that ultimately led to us financially surviving COVID”.
Software can make a huge impact beyond the corporate world. At Koan, we seek to empower every organization that is doing important work with tools to manage goals and track status, to ultimately help them do what they do even better.
Through our Koan Gives program, nonprofits like Rose City Rollers receive our Pro Plan for free. To learn more about Koan Cares, visit koan.co/cares. To support the Rose City Rollers, visit rosecityrollers.com/support
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