Archive for the ‘Entrepreneurship’ Category

Philanthropy Lesson #008: You need more than a hammer

November 2, 2010

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.

Philanthropy Lesson#001: “Failure is Good”

July 28, 2010

Welcome to “Philanthropy Lessons”, the Institute for Philanthropy‘s blog on donor education.  In this blog, we’ll draw attention to the most pressing issues in the field of strategic philanthropy: and we’ll  share with you both our own views, and those of innovative people whose work contains valuable lessons for thoughtful donors everywhere.

The first topic is that of failure: a topic not often touched upon in philanthropy or, for that matter, in many other disciplines, where the emphasis is on putting your best foot forward at all costs.  Yet much can be learned from falling short.  As the saying goes, “if you hit the bullseye every time, you’re standing too close to the dartboard”; often, a failure to achieve your objectives in your philanthropy can pave the way for a more nuanced, and most likely more successful, approach. 

It’s with that in mind that we link to an article on this very topic; “Positive Failure”, by David Simms in the Harvard Business Review.  Setting the standard for many Philanthropy Lessons to follow, it is an invigorating and thought-provoking read.