Getting people from diverse backgrounds involved in searching for the answer can yield surprising results.  Recently I was in a session with a senior management team where we were looking at the strategic way forward for their organisation.  We talked through a lot of the obvious choices, which didn’t yield much in the way of potential development or innovation for the organisation.  Then we started to throw around ideas about how to make one particular programme more accessible and tied into the core focus of the organisation. 

© Andrew Rich / iStock

© Andrew Rich / iStock

The breakthrough came when we started to think about how other people in other sectors (for profit, social enterprise, etc.) had made the step up to develop their programmes and organisations.  All of a sudden we had a rough plan to get more people involved in the programme in a way that didn’t cost them any money, whilst finding ways for the organisation to cover the cost with a range of different solutions and approaches.  It was about taking ourselves out of the usual development mindset and thinking about solutions and long-term outcomes that really made the difference. 

Complexity theorists will often try to get different people from different perspectives into the same room to tackle a problem by asking different questions or the same question in a different way.  After all, we don’t exist in silos and we don’t operate in narrow boxes. 

You never know where the next opportunity or solution is going to come from.  So keep an open mind, scan the horizon and left field ideas.  Above all, don’t get boxed into a mental cul de sac because something’s always been done a certain way, funding is prioritised above results, or donors won’t apparently like it.

Is there a project or programme that you know is just right, but it isn’t getting the traction that it needs? Is there another way to think through the issues and project design?


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