Thursday, 30 April 2009

A different world


I was privileged this week to spend some time with Anna Acland, from Save the Children and Chris Catton from Amnesty International. Whilst the topic of discussion for both visits was knowledge and innovation management, I was stuck by the passion with which Anna and Chris spoke about their work and the difference that they are making. Anna told me that, like all large organisations, silos in sharing learning and expertise exist, there is a a huge amount of goodwill to change and adapt. This is because of crystal-clear and measurable organisational goals that everyone buys in to emotionally. Oh, were that the case everywhere!

'Necessity is the mother of invention' (Charles Farquhar 1678 - 1707)...
The other thing we discussed was the wonderful way staff on the ground innovate. Teams faced with both very limited budgets, resource and central support (Central Africa anyone?), finding unconventional solutions and working in unorthodox ways becomes a necessity. What these NGO's do is collect these stories and use them to envision other teams trying to innovate. Big organisations don't seem to have that imperative; instead relying on complex 'innovation strategies' and investment. Anecdote do a good job at corporate storytelling, but for real innovation, get out to Angola.
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