Maximizing Social Impact

January 29, 2013

"If you had a magic wand and there was one thing you could change in the ecosystem for social impact, what would it be?"

"If you had a magic wand and there was one thing you could change in the ecosystem for social impact, what would it be?" That was the question that Kriss Deiglmeier, Executive Director for the Center for Social Innovation at Stanford University, put to a number of her colleagues, including our President and CEO, Bruce McNamer.

 

If I could wave my magic wand and make one change in the ecosystem for social impact, it would be this: Let’s focus a little less on new ideas, and a little more on making good ideas – new or old – work.

Let’s focus a little less on new ideas, and a little more on making good ideas – new or old – work.

Bruce McNamer, TechnoServe President and CEO

Sounds simple, right? In reality, good ideas often languish for lack of real management. As a result, projects fail to achieve the desired impact, money is wasted and it’s hard to say whether failures are due to the ideas themselves, or to ineffective implementation.

From a product development standpoint, the social sector is great at ideation. I’m not playing the curmudgeon here – this is a great thing (and at TechnoServe, we have plenty of new ideas). But too often, we lavish our attention and resources on coming up with ideas at the expense of other aspects of the process – prototyping, testing, marketing, re-engineering and project managing our “products.” And yet, these areas are key to achieving real impact at scale.

Ultimately, getting this balance right means less emphasis on the shiny new approach to social change and more on devoting resources where they will be effectively used. If we focus on what works – be it a brilliant innovation or a proven solution – we can channel the collective energy of the social sector for maximum impact.

 

Find out what others would change in the social impact ecosystem on Kriss's blog.

 

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