Adventures in innovation – The challenge of time | Lucy Gower | 101fundraising   Leave a comment

Nuture the necessary. Focus. Find what the real problem is , what the real source of the struggle is…..then you get tangible change. “We all have the same amount of time in a day: 24 hours or 1,440 minutes. You have exactly the same amount of time that was given to Thomas Edison, Helen Keller, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa and Albert Einstein. It’s how you maximise the difference you make that’s the real challenge.

It’s not enough to be busy. Ants are busy. What are we busy about?” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Most fundraisers I know are too busy. Because they are passionate about what they do, they put in at least 110%. The key to good innovation is to spend time at the beginning of a project to ensure that you are busy doing work that matters and projects that will make the most difference.

Often we start working on a project and get so embroiled in the detail we don’t take time out to check that we are focusing on the right activities, or even solving the right problem. For example, a fundraiser I was speaking to recently was working really hard on a supporter newsletter, the challenges of getting something printed out on time were giving them sleepless nights. I asked why they were developing a newsletter. At this point they had to really think. The original objective was to thank supporters and show them how their support had made a difference. It was also because it was ‘in plan’. The fundraiser had become so focused on the detail of a printed newsletter for a deadline according to a plan, they hadn’t considered if there were any better solutions. They had just focused on what had been done before. The fundraiser reconsidered the newsletter and with the relatively small numbers involved, tested phoning selected supporters and then creating a simple thank you letter for those supporters with no phone number. It worked well and several supporters commented that they liked receiving a personal call.

So when you are bogged down in the detail of your next project, take a step back and consider why you are doing it and if the way that’s ‘in plan’ is really the best way to achieve the outcome you want. It could be that the way you were planning is the best solution – but it’s worth taking the time to double check. Time spent getting it right at the beginning will save you time and effort in the longer term.

“If I had one hour to save the world, I would spend the first 55 minutes analysing the problem and then 5 minutes on the solutions”  Einstein

There is a story about NASA developing a pen to write in space. They allegedly spent tens of millions of dollars and after several months were making no progress. So they decided to ask the Russian space team how they were writing in space. The Russians were using a pencil.

So whether you choose to believe this story or not, the point that I want you to take away is the NASA team were concerned with solving the challenge of how to push ink throough a pen when there was no gravity. They wanted to be able to write with an ink pen in space. If they had thought more broadly at the beginning of the process, perhaps about how to write in space (rather than how to write with a conventional pen) they may have come up with the solution of a pencil. If they had thought even more broadly about their challenge, they may have realised that it was actually about communication in space…. and who knows what genius solution they may have come up with.”

via Adventures in innovation – The challenge of time | Lucy Gower | 101fundraising.

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Posted August 28, 2011 by arnoneumann in Creative Thinking, Innovation

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