Philanthropy Lesson #008: You need more than a hammer

If you’re struggling to tackle a complex social problem, and have been for a while, maybe its time to review your ‘tool kit’. Are you adopting the right strategies to get the job done, and are you being as effective as you can possibly be in your giving? Abraham Maslow once said “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. It could be that you are pounding away at every social problem instead of unscrewing it. The solution: Innovation. Steven Johnson recommends you throw yourself headfirst into spaces that stimulate thinking and conversation – spend some more time on the Internet, extend your meeting in the Conference room, or even linger at the water-cooler during work if that means being surrounded by different opinions. From Teach for America to Grameen Bank, from Gmail to GPS, all great ideas are born out of a network of experiences, slowly fading into view over time. The trick to being innovative, creative and effective is placing yourself in an environment where these networks are likely to be formed. After all, when chance favours the connected mind, you’ll have more to use than just a hammer.


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