I recently picked up an older copy of the Harvard Business Review and an interesting article caught my attention. In the Dec 06 issue they wrote about Disruptive Innovation for Social Change. I have read and seen many articles and posts on the value of disruptive technology (finding an underserved market and targeting their needs), but applying that concept to the social sector is an interesting idea. They use the illustration of the emergence of walk in health clinics that initially were designed to meet the needs of people with no health insurance. That evolved into a strong business strategy that also attracted people with insurance, but with little time or desire to sit in a doctor’s office to be seen for minor illnesses. What other areas are out there that the same approach could help? Are we overlooking simple solutions to many of the problems because we are too caught up in the systems that exist? Ultimately – they claim – most systems exist for the benefit of the status quo. Does yours?
One question that I get is “how do we determine where to focus our attention?”
In the worlds of nonprofit and churches, that issues is usually it is driven by “who” more than “what”. “Who” is upset, “who” is giving money, “who” started the project, “who” will benefit from the project, etc. (is that supposed to be “whom”?)
In order to get beyond the “who” barrier, you must bring in some sort of unbiased assessment. This may be a person or an evaluation tool of some kind. Many consultants have the skills and resources to do both. ( I am not simply plugging 218Consulting…but I really do believe in what I do!) The outside consultant can see things that you haven’t, say things that you won’t, and do things that no one else can. It is, in my opinion, the best way to focus.
There are assessment tools that you can use without a consultant. For churches, I recommend Natural Church Development (NCD). This tool has a proven history in many churches across denominational and geographical lines. It measures effectiveness in 8 areas, and has a great amount of resources available to help you make progress in the areas you identify. I have used it in many churches, and seen very positive results.
Whatever you do – make your decisions wisely, not out of fear or pressure. What you do really matters, and is worth investing time and resources to do it well.