Building Innovation Muscle

I’ve written before about the role of best practices and my skepticism that an overly narrow focus on identifying and replicating them is the best and most effective way to address client needs. I recently read a book titled “High Performance Nonprofit Organizations” by Letts, Ryan and Grossman that points out one of the unintended consequences of a narrow focus on replicating practices established elsewhere; the decoupling of idea generation and program development (i.e., the “creating and innovating” part of the business) from service delivery systems and capacity (i.e., the “doing” part of the business). The authors argue that adaptive capacity – the capacity to innovate based on identifying and responding to needs – is a critical element in high performing non-profits, just as it is in successful for-profit companies around the world. By outsourcing idea generation and program development, non-profits lose out on the powerful impact that a strong culture of innovation can have. [Read more…]

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