We surveyed the 300 nonprofit leaders who comprise CEP’s Grantee Voice panel about some of the issues they face in performance management. In addition to the fact that most nonprofits do not receive any financial or non-monetary help for performance measurement, nonprofits also said that their funders are more interested in focusing on assessment information that is useful to foundations than information that would be helpful to nonprofits.
The practice of being able to conduct quick, cheap and relatively painless tests, experiments or research exercises in order to gain invaluable insights, feedback, solutions to hypotheses and the like becomes vital in order to rethink, close the loop and ultimately “pivot” or change course based on integrating the new lessons into the model.
Does this idea sound familiar? It should. It originates from the very segment that now struggles to understand and implement it in its operations: the world of big business. One might argue that many of these precepts are in fact basic tenets of direct marketing and the “Test. Learn. Evolve” methodology.
This might not work. I didn't realize how tired I was until I started driving away from the Icarus launch event on Wednesday. Since June, I've been working flat out on creating the four books that were part of the...
Seattle improviser and auctioneer Matt Smith shows how altering our physiological response to failure can lead to transparency, availability, flexibility and...
Beth Kanter's insight:
This is a great message and technique to incorporate into a session about letting failure go. The video is short and worth listening to all of it, but if you are impatient skip to minute 7 and listen to the last five minutes.
Inner Voices: We all have inner negative headsets that we learned as kids. It boils down to:
Don't Make A Mistake Don't Make A Mistake
Then there is the "mistake" moment. We cringe .... Think of your last mistake -- personal or at work. Feel what your body does -- the cringe, the shame. What does it feel like. That's what is stopping us from learning from mistakes or failure.
Our body gives in to the mistake. It's like gumby doing the bidding. I made a mistake!
No matter you learned this as a child - in school or whatever. As an adult, it probably still haunts you. It keeps you from being creative, stops us, but here is a technique to get past it: The failure bow.
Coming to Terms With A Mistake So You Can Learn
Trapeze artists do it, improvisers, gymnists
Don't go into cringe mode, do this:
(1) Raise hands to offer it up and let it go
(2) Dumb ass grin like a dog being trained and uses submission
(3) Say thank you I failed and move on
Don't walk into a meeting late and raise your hands and shout this, but you can do it under the table
If you incorporate the failure bow, you are not glorifying failure - but rewarding the transparency, being accountable, being in the present, and paving the way to innovation.
This is an excellent overview and summary of the fail fast idea in the nonprofit sector.
Taking a cue from Silicon Valley, nonprofits are learning to use their failures as an integral part of the process of innovation and, ultimately, progress.
Some nonprofits are tempted to hide their failures, partially for fear of donor reaction. But most acknowledge that transparency about what works and what doesn’t is crucial to their eventual success.
“In Silicon Valley, failure is a rite of passage,” said Vota. “If you’re not failing, you’re not considered to be innovating enough.” Silicon Valley investors, in turn, regularly reward entrepreneurs’ risk-taking behavior, though they know the venture may fail and they will lose their capital.
A healthier approach also means managing acceptable losses. That's different — and, ironically, much safer — than trying to prevent failures altogether, by over-relying on past data to try "managing" risks that are inherently unknowable. We need to see those losses not as failures but as investments in the future. To succeed, we have to make it cool to fail in the right places, as long as it's recoverable, and as long as we learn from the failures and adjust.
It's exactly the advice your mother didn't give you, unless your mom was a rule-breaker like my mine. Fear means go. This was one of my mom's favorite principles. She said it when I was petrified to go to school for the first time; she said it when I was going to be on live television and was nervous I had nothing valuable to say. She believed fear was a compass — an indicator of the direction you should go in if you want to become the person you have the potential to be.
Next time you're afraid of something, instead of turning around, take these three steps.
Acknowledge you're afraid. Instead of swallowing or hiding your fear, and pretending you don't have it, look at it. For instance, if you are continuously avoiding a particular activity or person, have the courage to ask yourself "why?" Doing this requires honesty, authenticity, and vulnerability.
Determine what kind of fear it is. Ask yourself: Is this a healthy fear that I need to pay attention to (e.g., Is there a hungry bear on the path ahead of me?) Or is this a fear rooted in my own insecurities and self-doubts? It can be difficult to tell the difference at times, but if you really want to know the answer, pay close attention to what your gut says.
Acknowledge it as a gift. If it is an insecurity-based fear, it could be one of the most powerful gifts you'll ever receive. These fears are like a compass. They tell you where you need to go — toward that which scares you.
Over the years, I've learned that fear is a great teacher. If we pretend it doesn't exist, we miss out on all of its lessons. We aren't able to improve, become stronger, and build our self-confidence. On the other hand, if we embrace it as a guide, it can help us move through life's challenges and come into our ultimate purpose — making us more fulfilled, and increasing the positive impact we have on the world.
It seems like there's a hot new startup in the limelight more often than not, but the cold truth is 90% of tech start ups fail.
Beth Kanter's insight:
Ninety percent of startups fail, and that includes startups that generate huge buzz in their early days. "[S]ome fail due to a lack of vision and others have terrible timing. Ultimately, there is a lack of foresight which might have saved their companies," says a spokesperson for Allmand Law, which analyzed successful and failed startups for an infographic included in this article.
Failure. It’s a harsh word. No one enjoys failure. No one ever really says, “Hey, I really want to fail today so I can learn.” Yet failure is an inevitable part of human existence and it plays a central...
Beth Kanter's insight:
Good definition of failure
Failure in the entrepreneurial vernacular is reframed as intentional iteration and experimentation. It’s not failure in the catastrophic sense. Failure is simply a portfolio of setbacks, false starts, wrong turns, and mistakes that are expected and tolerated because the entrepreneur purposefully iterates in order to gather new, relevant, and timely information. Through iteration entrepreneurs seek not to kill an idea but to make it better, and this happens through an anticipated cycle of pivoting and adapting.
Don't use the F word, simply pressing and unimportant.
Beth, I heard ths this story on the radio which aired Nov. 12 and thought there was a connection between a culture's attitude towards struggle and failure/success.
For the most part in American culture, intellectual struggle in school children is seen as an indicator of weakness, while in Eastern cultures it is not only tolerated, it is often used to measure emotional strength.
California arts organizations conducted 28 experiments to achieve new relevance for audiences, communities and professional artists with support from The James Irvine Foundation. Here’s an overview of what they did and what they learned.
At her Harvard commencement speech, "Harry Potter" author JK Rowling offers some powerful, heartening advice to dreamers and overachievers, including one hard-won lesson that she deems "worth more than any qualification I ever earned."...
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