Innovative Concepts

Connections and Combinations

But today, value isn’t created by filling a slot, it’s created by connection. By the combinations created by people. By the magic that comes from diversity of opinion, background and motivation. Connection leads to ideas, to solutions, to breakthroughs.

Seth Godin

It is the new points of view, the uncommon connections, the different perspective that make our collective service more remarkable. Be powered by uncertainty to ask questions. Be inspired by those generating movements in foreign lands. Be willing to share with those we have just met. Be willing willing to wayfind. Assume best intentions. Be connected by a shared vision.

Traveling Into Adversity

If we head out on a back-country adventure and expect some form of adversity, we can prepare ourselves. A day of high winds, extreme heat, extensive storm system, or some other challenge on the horizon allows us to find our pace and adjust when the events unfold. We seem to do better when we can establish a routine and then amend our course of action. It is more challenging when we cast off in a storm; it is harder to acclimate and find our bearings. Stepping out of a car into sideways rain, cold temperatures, and mud takes a different mindset.

If we can set our expectations in advance, we thrive. It is why we look at the weather report before packing for a trip. Or we search chat forums for insights and suggestions. If we have a reasonable sense of clarity, we can endure further than being hit by the unexpected.

Trail Report

Which trail encounters would be necessary to share with another trail user?

  1. Grizzly bear ahead
  2. Bridge is out
  3. Horses on trail
  4. Rattlesnake on the trail
  5. The route to obscure petroglyphs 
  6. Band of sheep with guard dogs

All of these might be essential news to share, and none of these could be newsworthy. The proximity or impact of any one of these items to the point at which we encounter the other trail user creates context. 

If the encounter is imminent, then the warning is highly valuable. However, the snake I encountered over an hour ago has likely departed. The Grizzly bear seen yesterday may be in a different drainage. The horses headed back to the barn are no longer relevant to the other trail user’s experience. If the obstacle will change the route for the other trail user, then proximity is less important. If the only bridge crossing a major river is impassable then a warning one hundred miles in advance is relevant.

There is the human dynamic, with so much stimulus in an outdoor experience it is easy to forget about warnings. The information shared at the trailhead might be overlooked by the time I reach the area of impact. The level of severity and impact intensifies the classification of the information. A band of sheep chased by a grizzly bear trying to outrun a wildfire may stay with me longer: the more disruptive the potential interaction, the more relevant the trail report.

Results Amplified by the Route

If the result had been two successful basketball shots, that is commonplace. When the result is two successful basketball shots spaced between numerous obstacles, ingenious design, mechanical systems, and a high probability of failure, we stay engaged and hope for a favorable outcome. The route we travel matters. The obstacles we overcome creates a more valuable result.

The Headline Number

The headline number is the attention grabber. The one that we will mention to a friend or colleague. Headline numbers are often shocking because they represent change our assumptions. They often create a new order of magnitude.

There is a story behind numbers. Scenarios to explore, more depth than the headline. How might you share the narrative that gives more meaning to the headline number? How does the most significant philanthropic gift in the organization’s lifetime become a catalyst for more engagement? How might a moment of unanticipated disruption to service delivery become the moment when your tribe gathers with unprecedented support? What if the headline number suggests it is time to shift your focus?

Headline numbers provide the moment between bounces on a diving board when your audience awaits the take-off and execution. How might you use headline numbers to amplify your work?



The average person falls asleep in 7 minutes.

The average person laughs 10 times a day.

The average person walks the equivalent of twice around the world during their lifetime.

The average person has over 1,460 dreams a year.

The average shower temperature is 101 degrees.


Average creates comparison.  How do I rank?  Am I above or below average?  What if we asked ourselves about the work that falls far from average?  What is it we are going that lands on the far end of the scale?  Perhaps we should be doing more.  There are plenty of people who fall within a few percentage points of average, but many remarkable individuals doing something different.

Having a Moment


We know not when we are going to ‘have a moment.’ An unexpected encounter. A surge in demand for our services. Being in the spotlight, facing an exponentially larger audience. The tailwind of a lifetime to push us towards a personal record.

If we are uncertain of where we stand and our desired destination, we will not adapt quickly enough to meet the moment. The forces will outrun us, and we will be swept by the current of the audiences’ intention.

However, if we state what we believe, remain authentic, then we are assured of developing connections built on trust and a shared vision. The moment of first contact starts with a sustainable foundation.


Supply and Demand

IMG_2902Disruptions, delays, and dislocation create demand. Supply and demand may not be the leading evaluation frames for the social sector. There is numerous points of overlap in the visions and missions of many causes. However, groups find ultimately find a niche or fail to sustain their efforts. Occasionally, the delivery of services is so disrupted that the demand far exceeds supply. The challenge is to understand when it is a short-term reaction and when it represents a systemic change.