We love the idea of holiday buffets – you get to sample lots of good food and try new things. We aim for the same notion with Social TrendSpotter – we hope you sample good content and learn about new things to try. As you know, we play in many spaces and try to encourage cross-pollination between the social sector, for-profits and government. These articles constitute a representative sample of our content buffet and we hope you enjoy them (without all the calories).
“The rules are changing. As predicted by futurists, the realms of nonprofits and business are beginning to intersect in ways they haven’t before. Recent headlines, from CVS eliminating cigarettes from its stores to the NFL’s mishandling allegations of domestic violence, make it clear that businesses must begin to pay more attention to the social issues surrounding their brand or lose customers.” –Suzanne Smith
While this article is geared toward business, we think this intersection provides opportunity for the social sector. We encourage our clients to reach out to business around issues “closest to both their heart and bottom lines” and find ways to play together. Spoiler alert: we also encouraged businesses to partner with existing nonprofit organizations rather than creating their own initiative. Feel free to forward this to your stakeholders as a way to start the conversation about how you can partner with them in 2015.
Grit: “Researchers are now showing that low-income students who thrive have one thing in common: grit. They have the ability to fail, rebound, learn and keep going. I have been around many entrepreneurs in my life and the successful ones always have this same type of grit. They don’t give up on themselves or their ideas, and are also constantly adapting to new information and change.” – Suzanne Smith
Grit is also an important characteristic for social sector organizations. The most successful are constantly trying things, learning new information through failure and success, and pivoting as needed.
“When I worked for nonprofits, many consultants never “got us.” They were missing the essential essence of the sector and were too costly. I saw it as a challenge to redesign consulting to work alongside nonprofits to create high-impact, high-performance organizations. I got my MBA and launched my business, Social Impact Architects. I’m proud to say we have flourished in this void.” – Suzanne Smith
It is often through our own experience that we learn new information and those insights can often lead to new programs or businesses. The key is to pay attention to these clues and validate them with others. It reminds us of one of our favorite company mantras: “pearls aren’t created without some irritation.” I was recently reminded by a great thinker that every pearl is caused by some irritation, but not every irritation causes a pearl. The same is true of new ideas – not every idea can be a viable business or program. We recently wrote a blog about social alchemy that charts this path for an idea, but the process is equally applicable to an organization.
Checking in with Past/Current Customers: “It is true – the cheapest customer is the one you already have. I’m in the relationship business and I want my past/current customers to see me as a partner in their work. I am constantly thinking about my current and past customers to connect them with new ideas, new people, and new approaches. I even do this for possible future customers. If you do it right, you never have to sell.” – Suzanne Smith
This time of year is the perfect time to check in with all of your customers – clients, funders, staff and board members. They all have a unique perspective that can help shape your understanding of your ecosystem and guide your 2015 plans. We encourage you to take some time to check-in with them – through in-person visits, emails, or surveys. Speaking of surveys, we would love to hear from you about your 2015 New Year’s Resolutions for your organization. We plan to focus our December blogs on helping you jumpstart your 2015 plans.
There is no Growth in Comfort: “On the first day at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, the dean challenged us by saying “There is no growth in comfort and there is no comfort in growth.” It was true during my MBA and maybe even truer as an entrepreneur. The minute I get comfortable, I wonder – what am I missing? It switched my mindset and got me comfortable with discomfort.” – Suzanne Smith
This is a great reflection for all of us as we go into 2015. Are you doing enough to grow yourself and your organization? Are you comfortable with discomfort created by continuous learning? Think about some stretch goals for you and your organization and feel comfortable with pushing yourself.
We would also love your feedback on any of the above. We want to continue to be relevant and stay connected with what matters to you in 2015.