Innovation or Business As Usual?

Reading the book, The Leader Who Had No Title by Robin Sharma and I was struck by the following passage.

‘In the new world of business, the riskiest place you can be is trying to do the same thing in the same way as you’ve always done them.  Few things are as foolish as hoping old behaviors will somehow present new results.’

The social sector has been quick to innovation on some fronts and tied to the volumes of history in other areas.  The sector was the fastest to adopt to the promises of social media.  Many nonprofits found Facebook to way to claim a stake in the internet’s version of the Homestead Act.  Every enterprise was trying to get their virtual forty acres.  The Facebook application Causes was ideally suited to handle the growing swarm of grassroots campaigns.  On the other hand, many nonprofits were slow to respond to the current economic crisis.  There was much delay in considering cost-cutting, laying-off employees, merging or even closing the doors.  I noticed many for-profit businesses were far faster to make adjustments.  The social sector turned to its donors and asked for critical operating support with urgency. Soon each group’s message was lost among a cacophony of organizations trying to champion their dire situation.

We know that the old model will not work in a new economy.  Donor’s interest have moved, priorities have shifted, corporate giving has undergone a massive transformation, the collective memory of 2008-2009 will remain etched in the Baby Boomer’s memories (among other generations).  Those that the sector most planned to sustain us with financial contributions, time and talent may be less able.  So what has your organization done to amend the way it does business?  Did you adjust to survive the recession and plan to return to business as usual?  Have you altered your strategic plan to take advantage of opportunities that were unimaginable 18 months ago?  Are you still considering yourself a victim of a global economic crisis or has your enterprise become a entrepreneurial leader?

The book makes another point.  ‘The space shuttle uses more fuel during its first three minutes after liftoff than during its entire voyage around the earth.’  So often you find that launching an idea into orbit takes a tremendous amount of energy and commitment.  So much so that we frequently leave our ideas on the launch pad waiting for another day and more favorable conditions.  How can you combine innovation and your organization’s authenticity to find a new orbit?  As I wrote about last week, NASA is being given a new vision, the moon is being left to private industry and Mars has become the next challenge.  If your competitive advantage consisted of programs focused solely on the moon the game has changed.  Are you ready?

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