Category Archives: remarkable

Pillows, helmets and hygiene

Dave Brailsford, Team GB Cycling Performance Director attributes much of his teams’ recent Olympic success to incremental improvements.

The principle of incremental improvements across the cycling team came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together.

This concept of incremental improvement or ‘aggregating marginal gains’ in sport is not new, but it has not been included into every element of a training strategy with such conviction before.

GB Cycling’s training included rigorous training schedules to improve physical fitness, a carefully planned diet, a series of marginal technical improvements to equipment and working with psychologists to adopt a winning mindset (which included reducing the number of racing days but competing in those fewer races with a focus on winning).

Brailsford also highlighted the importance of other things that might seem of little importance, like sleeping in the right position, having the same pillow when you are away, training in different places and being scrupulous about hygiene so as to reduce the chances of getting ill.

“They’re tiny things but if you clump them together it makes a big difference.” Dave Brailsford

The team also looked to worlds outside of cycling for answers. They hired Formula One engineers to model the aerodynamics of helmets and bikes, the “pillow” idea apparently came from the Royal Ballet and the emphasis on hygiene is the result of talking to surgeons about avoiding illness,  (Rumour has it that Brailsford had someone to continuously clean the door handles in the Olympic village lest germs should get into the camp)

For me, the team’s success is about the sum of the parts including; the dedication of the cyclists and the coaches, the physical training schedule, the best equipment, working with psychologists to ensure that cyclists were focused on success and the hard work and constant striving to be the best that they can be.

In addition to all of the above, the GB cycling team were doing something different to their competition, and I think that also contributed to making them outstanding.

Dave Brailsford and his GB cycling team bought home 7 gold medals at the London 2012 Olympics. Tell that to anyone who doesn’t see the value in incremental innovation.

What tactics can you borrow from the GB cycling team and apply to your fundraising?

Has anyone else cried a lot this week?

I have spent a lot of time in the last week crying at the telly. Who knew that the achievements and disappointments of the Olympic athletes could have such an emotional impact?

My first Olympic emotional moment was when I saw Roger Bannister carrying the Olympic torch across the finish line of the Oxford track where 58 years ago he became the first runner to run a mile in under 4 minutes.  Roger is now 83 and you can see his somewhat slower stint on that famous track and an interview here. 

The story of the first four-minute mile

On 6 May 1954 Roger Bannister ran the first ever mile in under four minutes. This, at the time was an incredible feat as athletes had tried to break through this time barrier for years and years. Some experts even said that it was physically impossible, that the human heart would explode under the pressure to run a mile in under four minutes.

There are several things that I love about this breakthrough story, firstly that Roger wasn’t a professional runner, he was a medical student and he just ran for 45 minutes every day. Secondly, he believed absolutely that he could run a mile in under four minutes. When asked how he did it he said, “ it’s the ability to take more out of yourself that you’ve got”.

Within 2 months of Rogers’ record, Australian John Landy set a new sub four-minute mile record. The next year, 37 other runners ran miles in under four minutes.

In fact, since 1954 hundreds of runners have broken this record. There were no great training breakthroughs, human bone structure, lung capacity and heart performance didn’t suddenly improve. So what happened?

Roger believed he could do it; he focused and did better than his best. Rogers belief raised the bar enabling others to also believe they could do it. I think that belief was absolutely key to Roger achieving his breakthrough success.

So when I saw Roger carrying the torch last week I welled up. For me Roger Bannister is much much more than a person who ran the first four-minute mile.

Roger Bannister showed others that something that ‘experts’ had believed impossible was possible. By doing this he allowed others to believe that they could do the impossible too.

Apply this principle to your fundraising or other areas of your life where you want to make great achievements. Next time you are attempting a seemingly impossible task, remember Roger.

Do what he did;

  • focus on what you want to achieve
  • believe in yourself
  • take more out of yourself that you’ve got
  • and make it possible.

First published as a guest blog by the Fundraising Detective.

 

Are you still useful?

This week I went to ‘Overturn’ the MA in Innovation Management Degree Show at Central Saint Martins. Who even knew you could do a MA in Innovation?

Innovation expert Max McKeown (taller than I expected) delighted the audience for over an hour with a great presentation and some rather interesting innovation discussion featuring;

  • If anyone wanted or expected future to be exactly the same as it is now
  • How washing machines have made women in America fat
  • Pondering over to what extent past experiences affect our behaviours

Pretty intense stuff for a school night, but the observation that really struck a chord with me was;

If you have been with your firm for less than 6 months then you are still useful.

You are still useful because new people have enthusiasm that something can change. New people bring diversity as they are external to established systems and can see where change could make improvements. New people ask questions. New people challenge ‘the way things are done around here’.  Six months were how long it took for a person to stop being new, to stop asking the challenging questions, to stop believing that something can change.

The next question was how long we thought it takes for a new person in an organisation to get listened to.

There was a range of answers. All over 6 months.

So there we go, organisations employ people for their skills and experience to get the job done as well as their potential to ask questions and drive change. For the first six months they tend to do that, question and challenge, as time goes by they challenge less until they are one of the team, conformed to the status quo. That is just when they start to get noticed and gain influence. But by that point it is too late.

Sound familiar? Or not? Love to know your views.

P.S. Central Saint Martins Kings Cross Campus in London opened last September.  It is an awesome building, part of the regeneration of the Kings Cross area. Find a reason to visit if you can.

There are people dying now, so give me the money

On 31 May, hundreds of fundraisers gathered in London to hear 22 fundraising professionals share which fundraising ideas they wished they had thought of. I was proud to be included in the line up of speakers.

I took some inspiration away from every single presentation. So that’s at least 22 ideas (if I include my own).  Not bad for an afternoons work.

Rebecca Mauger from Red Cross spoke about Live Aid. Now this struck a bit of a chord with me because I really remember Live Aid.

The Christmas before LiveAid, I remember going to WHSmith with my pocket money to buy the 7” single, ‘Do they know its Christmas’ to help victims of the Ethiopian famine. Yes that is physically going into a shop (with my mum), and buying a vinyl record and coming home and playing it non-stop on my parents hi-fi system. Back in 1984 this made me very cool. And I haven’t been very cool since.

At the time it was the UK’s best selling single and raised an estimated £8 million. The point is that it made giving to charity very cool for not just me, but for many people.

I also remember my dad coming home from work being super excited that he had seen Bob Geldof getting on a plane (my dad worked at Heathrow). He rushed off to Boots (yes the pharmacy) to get his film developed (no digital then) and we were delighted several days later (one hour service didn’t exist) to see 24 shots of a small man with big black hair (or possibly a hat) in a white t-shirt getting on a plane in the very far distance (no zoom lens). You might have an app that makes your photos look like this. My dad was, nevertheless proud of ‘meeting’ Bob Geldof, even though he was ‘a bit scruffy’.

Live Aid was a music concert held the following July simultaneously in London and Philadelphia. 58 bands played over 16 hours attended in total by over 170,000 people and the broadcast was watched by two billion people in 160 countries. Oh and they planned and delivered it in 12 weeks. Oh and this was before the internet or email was invented.

In 1985 Live Aid was an entirely new phenomenon for the fundraising world. Nothing like this had ever happened before.

I remember being glued to the telly that day. And I remember Bob Geldof getting all shouty and sweary. Now I know that he was getting frustrated that there wasn’t an urgent enough call to action when he famously said ‘f*** the address! –  there are people dying now, so give me the money.’ You can watch below.

The original fundraising target for LiveAid was £1 million and the final figure raised was about £150 million. Outstanding.

So thank you Rebecca for indulging me on a trip back to when I was cool. But more importantly for reminding us all that with an urgent need, passion, determination, bloody mindedness, a strong ask and sometimes a bit of swearing we can achieve outstanding things.

I’ve never cried in a hardware store before. Although perhaps you have.

I was in E Hayes & Sons in Invercargill in New Zealand. A strange place to hang out on holiday amidst the natural beauty of New Zealand’s South Island you may think. And you would be right.

But this is why.

On the way to Invercargill I watched a film starring Anthony Hopkins called The Worlds Fastest Indian. It was made in 2005 and based on the true story of Burt Munro and his quest to turn his 1920s Indian Scout motorbike into the fastest motorbike in the world.

Burt was a somewhat eccentric motorcycle fanatic who spent his time tinkering with his motorbike in his shed, making improvements to the engine and bodywork. He would often work through the night choosing his passion for speed over sleep. He improvised with found items rather than ‘proper’ equipment. He would cast parts in old tins and make his own barrels and pistons.

In 1962 he travelled alone to the USA to fulfil his ambition to achieve a worldspeed record at Speed Week on the salt flats at Bonneville, Utah.

His local community, friends and family did not believe that he could do it. Even the local motorcycle club were sceptical about their eccentric neighbour. The only person who did believe in Burt was Thomas, the small boy who lived next door.

Against the odds, Burt and the motorbike arrived in Utah, 8,000 miles away in one piece. Burt charmed officials to let him race despite not registering, being 63 years old, riding the oldest bike in the competition with no apparent regard for his own safety. He had no safety parachute or fire extinguisher. Officially both were required in order to be eligible to race.

Burt broke the world record achieving 179 mph. Burt returned to Bonneville several more times setting more speed records in his lifetime. Burt died on 6 January 1978, aged 78.

“You live more in five minutes on a bike like this going flat-out than some people live in a lifetime” Burt Munro

Burt’s story inspired me because of his passion (for motorcycles) and his single-minded pursuit (of speed) – and his success despite the odds.

It is an enchanting and beautiful story told with love and humour. I fell in love with Burt Munro a bit. So that’s why, when I came across his motorcycle bike and memorial to Burt in a hardware store in Invercargill – it was all a bit emotional.

So if you ever feel in the need of inspiration against the odds, take 90 minutes out of your day-to-day life and watch The Worlds Fastest Indian. 

Same challenges different time zone

Last week fundraisers from across Queensland gathered on the Australian Gold Coast for the Fundraising Institute Australia Dare to be Different conference.

Many people asked me what I thought the differences were between fundraising in the UK and Australia. I struggled to come up with many apart from the difference in population size (Australia approx 22 million and UK approx 61 million). My observations are that there are more similarities than differences….

  • People give to people. Fundraising is about building relationships and connecting donors to the cause and showing them the difference they can make in the world. As Kay Sprinkel Grace observed in the opening plenary, fundraisers across the world are brokers of dreams.
  • A tough economic environment poses challenges for fundraisers the world over. Fundraisers must find a balance between focusing on activities that will bring in the highest rewards as well as identifying future trends and developing creative solutions as Tony Elischer demonstrated in his sessions.
  • Recruiting new donors is hard and recruiting the right donors is harder.  Adrian Sargeant stressed that ‘it’s better to spend more bringing in people who are right then have better response rates from people who will never give again’, and helped us understand how to identify and attract the right donors.
  • Keeping new donors is even harder. In the UK 50% of new donors are lost in the first year. Then 30% are lost year on year. In the USA 75% never come back. Organisations must build trust and loyalty and develop long-term donor relationships.
  • As a sector we are very open to sharing and learning from each other. Christiana Stergiou and I took the audience through as many fundraising examples from www.sofii.org as we could in an hour and encouraged fundraisers to use this excellent free resource as well as  helping others by submitting their own exhibits.
  • At Dare to be Different it was refreshing to learn from what had not gone so well with an open and impressive session from Marcus Blease from Cerebral Palsy Alliance,  Trudi Mitchell from Cancer Council NSW and Paul Tavatgis from Cornucopia Fundraising. As a sector we could learn so very much more if we were more open about what did not go so well.
  • Storytelling is the new buzzword. Human beings are hardwired to learn through storytelling . Anthropologists contend that 70% of our learning is through narrative. So it’s no surprise that it’s a skill that fundraisers want to perfect.
  • We love jargon. The usual suspects kept cropping up and the top three terms were supporter journey, touchpoints and integrated campaigns as well as some new acronyms that I have never heard before.
  • The general public has a perception of how charities should operate. Many make decision to donate to a cause based on the % of their donation that will go to services and do not like to think that their donation is ‘wasted’ on administration or staff costs. Dan Pallotta made a case for transparency and the importance of investing in order to effectively fundraise and the importance of communicating the real cost of raising funds to donors, supporters and the public.
  • Fundraising is not always perceived well outside of the sector. Asking for bequests was picked up by the tabloid press, quick to paint a negative picture of the sensitive topic of how fundraisers ask people to consider leaving a gift in their will, which could make a lasting difference to the world.
  • The world is small. I met several of ex-colleagues from the UK and from the NSPCC as well as Twitter friends. I liked how the world got smaller.

So that’s the top line. But for me the most important thing I came away with was inspiration from meeting a collective of passionate people doing great work for a range of causes with a restless energy to do more. I’m proud to have the opportunity to work with you. And not forgetting, that in addition to your great work, you all know how to party.

Vinny the Pug Champion Rock Climber

Last year I met a lot of exciting and wonderful folk making a difference in the worlds of both fundraising and innovation. However, one character in particular grabbed my attention. Perhaps because he is rather unusual….

Recently I was lucky enough to catch up with Vinny the Pug and learn a bit more about what he has been up to.

Vinny climbs rocks and fundraises for a range of causes. He lives in New Orleans, with his human Allen Kimble, Jr.  His business is headquartered in the Sonoran desert in Phoenix, Arizona.

When he first moved to Phoenix from lush and leafy Florida, Vinny was enchanted by the arid desert landscape and in particular – the boulders. One day he just started climbing. It wasn’t long before word got out and the editor of “CLIMBING” magazine contacted Vinny. From that day he was referred to as “Vinny the Pug Champion Rock Climber”.

With his new Champion Rock Climber status Vinny looked for every opportunity to hone his climbing skills and practiced daily on his training rock. In time he became so proficient that while still atop the boulder, he could turn 360 degrees without one paw ever making contact with the ground. Yes – it’s true.

Back in 2004, to showcase his climbing prowess Vinny embarked on a 1,000 pictures in 100 days boulder challenge. Vinny’s human came up with the idea and also took the photographs. At the end of three months of climbing and photographing in the Sonoran, there were well over one thousand photographs of Vinny posing on different boulders. It was a sad day when The Guinness World of Records rejected this as a world record attempt. But Vinny didn’t give up.

Vinny has used his Champion Rock Climber status to develop his own Vinny the Pug brand. Vinny trains fundraisers to use the new business sales models he has developed and provides them with Vinny the Pug branded merchandise to sell. Vinny says he has raised over $50,000 in both money and in-kind donations so far.  He raises money through online sales and through the sales via his Fundraiser Club network. His range includes Vinny the Pug t-shirts, posters, CDs, jewelry, purses, iPad covers and his own-labeled wines. The “Vinny the Pug Fundraiser Club” raises money for a number of human causes, although pet rescue is closest to Vinny’s heart.

Vinny sees his work as an opportunity to help causes to maximize their income and be more self-sufficient in their fundraising.

Vinny’s pet rescue fundraising target for 2012 is $1,000,000.  It will be divided among participating pet rescue organisations in North America.  He will soon embark on his fundraising tour of 100 U.S. and Canadian cities to recruit and train a thousand rescues to become Vinny the Pug Fundraiser Club members.

Vinnys’ top fundraising and rock climbing tips are;

  • Do what you love, and do it differently than everyone else so that there is no comparison
  • Don’t give up, every apparent failure is simply practice for better times that are just around the corner
  • Practice, there is no other road that will lead one to greatness than practice
  • Patience, there is no other vehicle that will transport one to success and ensure you’ll arrive at exactly the precise time you should
  • Climb every mountain, you’ll find success on the other side, and the view is breathtaking

Good luck Vinny – let us know how you get on.

Vinny the Pug can be contacted at:  desertpugproductions@yahoo.com.

Will you donate just £1 for my birthday?

So its my birthday, I’m another year older. 38. How has this happened? Seems like only yesterday I was hanging out at Virginia Water Lakes with Stan Gower in my knee socks and sandals.

My priorities have changed a bit over the years. These days I’m a marketers dream; anything that says anti gravity or anti ageing or age defying and I’m there.  Can’t get enough.

This birthday I have to admit that I have been very impressed with the direct marketing I have received. Lots of organisations are helping me celebrate. Facebook Causes are onto me and even Next are offering me £5 off my ‘birthday’ order. This is a big improvement from the birthday direct mail I used to get a few years ago.

From about 1997-2003 I used to get mail from one of those companies that take free ‘glamour’ shots of you in Vaseline edged lenses and then charge you hundreds of pounds for the prints. I think they were featured on Watchdog once.  Every year the letter started, Dear *Harriet, Have you ever wanted to look really beautiful like the models in the magazines…? one year the letter made me cry real tears.

So my point? I’m getting to it. I treat my birthday like many people treat New Year, as an opportunity to reflect on what has happened in the last 12 months and hatch fresh plans for the future.

So this year I have been thinking about who has inspired me. Who has made an impact on my life. One such person is Simon Berry.

Simon and his partner Jane are the inspiration behind Colalife, a charity that hopes to be able to use Cokes distribution networks to get vital medicines out to rural areas in Africa in order to save lives. Simon and Jane have given up their day jobs and are about to move to Africa to get the Zambia Colalife pilot up and running. Awesome.

So, if you were thinking of buying me a birthday present, and actually even if you weren’t, please can you help Simon and Jane help children who are dying in Africa because they don’t have access to basic medicines that you and I take for granted.

Please sponsor the Colalife cyclists Nigel and Bill who are cycling 400 kilometres across Normandy to raise a target of £6,000  to save lives. So help them out.  You can sponsor them here. 

Just £1 will fill an AidPod with simple medicines to help a mother in rural Zambia rehydrate her child and save her child’s life (there are only 70 retail pharmacies in the whole of Zambia – and public clinics can be a 20 kilometre walk from home).

You can also tell your friends on Facebook and Twitter and perhaps some of them will donate £1 too. Or maybe more…….

So together we can help save lives. We don’t need to look beautiful like the models in the magazines. We just need to make a difference. Right now.

That’s all.

*yes according to my passport Harriet is my first name.

Stop press – a great customer experience story

I always complain if I receive rubbish service (so most days), and when I have a great customer service experience I shout it from the rooftops. Partly because it’s so rare and partly because I want to share that providing great service may take a bit more thought and effort, but it’s not actually that difficult.

On Thursday I went for dinner with my friend Katie, the brief was budget. She turned up with a 2 for 1 voucher because her mum had bought a special offer pizza in Sainsbury’s last week. Always sticks to the brief does Katie.

So we rocked up, well more like waded up in the torrential rain and joined the queue of drowned rats at the door. The restaurant was packed but within a few seconds the waitress said hi, and advised us we would have a 15 min wait, was that OK? We had a lot to chat about and didn’t want to back outside in the rain so decided to stay. She offered us a four person table, but we offered it up to the four people behind us as a two table would only be another 10 minute wait.

Once seated our waiter gave us each a glass of wine on the house as we had to wait and for offering up the four person table. Wow – free wine?! Great stuff.

Once we got over the shock, we took a moment to look around this transformed Pizza Express. The interior had been given a makeover, bright colours and stripey walls, funky chairs and sofas and one wall was a big screen playing an unidentified black and white film. It didn’t feel like we were in a Pizza Express.

Our waiter was great, attentive, but not pushy and he was actually excited to tell us about the different pizza bases and pointed out that he should know, as he was half Italian.

The staff had new uniforms, rather cool blue t-shirts with a fluorescent re-branded logo although the chefs were looking a bit jailbreak their striped outfits that matched the walls.

Our food was good. The menu had been given a refresh too and there were more charity partnership offers than before. We sampled the new Baileys latte (it would be rude not to), and I fully recommend.

The restaurant was busy but we didn’t feel rushed. When we wanted the bill the waiter was there, no Mexican waves or pretending to walk out to get their attention required, which in the norm in my recent experience. Our meal was on brief and cheap as chips, in fact it may only have been cheaper if indeed, we had eaten chips.

Then we were given feedback invitation cards and asked to give feedback online if we had had a good time, and also if we hadn’t. I have done this and am now expectantly waiting for my £500 Pizza Express card, but in the meantime happy with my dough balls voucher. (although I would have given feedback without an incentive)

On leaving a waitress that we hadn’t even spoken to smiled and said thanks and she sounded like she actually meant it too. And THEN the waitress on the door apologised for the wait again.

We left the restaurant reeling in shock at this unexpected great experience.

We all bang on about the customer experience and donor journey, but I’m not convinced many organisations are actually doing it.  So well done Pizza Express you have done a great job. You have transformed from average high street pizza chain to providing customers with a remarkable pizza eating experience. I think its fair to say that your pizzas went a bit small for a while and I am still not sure about the ‘diet’ pizza with a hole in the middle but based on this recent experience I’ll let you off. I think you are back on track.

So team what can we learn from Pizza Express? Is it as simple as a bit of a brand refresh, lick of paint, some customer service training combined with getting the right people on the bus in the first place?

It feels that Pizza Express have really worked at cross selling their products with simple supermarket incentives, integrating online and offline messages, providing customer incentives to return, providing great product, actively seeking feedback, providing superb in restaurant service and excellent value for money.

But don’t just take my word for it – go hang out in Pizza Express or anywhere else that provides good service and watch and learn.  And then go do it yourself.

I’m still reeling in shock and thinking I should probably go to the gym today to offset the anticipated voucher.

You can just tick along. That’s fine. Your choice.

I was recently talking to Jonathon Grapsas, Director of flat earth direct about innovation and some of the challenges for the charity sector. He asked me six key questions. And here is what I said.

1.  Let’s start with some of the basics. How do you define innovation and do you think most people really understand what it means?

I think it’s important to define both innovation and creativity as they are terms that are often used (and overused) together. Creativity is the art of coming up with a new idea – as humans we are all creative. Innovation is ‘taking action’ to make that new idea happen.

Innovation can be a radical change, for example the invention of the Internet or digital music or the Amazon model of shopping that changes the way we work.

Innovation can also be a small or incremental change that delivers results, for example challenging out of date processes, changing a mail pack or a thank you letter or really interrogating your database.

Most people think innovation is a lone genius having a light bulb moment. This is not the case. Innovation is more likely to be a series of connections or ideas put together in new ways, and is often a slow hunch, or a series of slow hunches over a period of time.

The invention of the Internet is a great example – Tim Berners Lee was tinkering away for 20 years fascinated about making sense of data before he stumbled across a technology that has changed the world. People also think innovation is just for the ‘innovators’ – that’s also not true. Every single one of us has the ability to be innovative, we just have to work out what areas our creative strengths are in and play to them.

2.  As you know everyone talks about the desire to be innovative and agents of change. But very few charities truly are pushing the envelope. What are the biggest things holding us back? Can we rightly point the finger at boards or is this a cop-out of sorts?

Charities are great at talking about how they should be innovative but I can’t see many being strategic about developing innovation. We are all held back by fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure and fear of putting our heads above the parapet, both personally and professionally. In a difficult economic climate people fear losing their job. Being seen as different is perceived as risky.

I think the economic climate is used as an excuse to ‘play it safe’. Some of history’s great innovations were developed in bad economic times including some big names like Motorola, Hewlett-Packard and Xerox. Right now we have a real opportunity to be more innovative to increase efficiencies and income and give our organisations an essential competitive advantage during tough times.

Innovation has to be led from the top, look at any company delivering success through innovation. Their leadership deliberately drives a culture of innovation in a range of ways; for example Google 20% time, 3Ms’ strategy to deliver 20% of income through new products and of course Apple who have four times as many apps developers than employees who all work for free and Apple takes 30% of everything they earn.

The point is that it’s not good enough to tell your staff to be more innovative, leaders need to walk the walk and insist on time and space for innovation put realistic success measures in place, which are not necessarily income driven and accept that innovation is a mid to long-term game. The responsibility for driving innovation sits at the top.

3.  Are there any individuals or organisations we should be looking to that are doing some really interesting, leading edge stuff that’s pushing the fundraising boundaries? What about the corporate world, who’s rocking?

In the UK, Cancer Research UK are the only charity I can think of that is strategically developing radical innovation and are developing some great products – My Projects is one that has been showcased recently.

That said you don’t have to be a big charity to do innovation, you just need some passion and determination to make the world a better place for your cause. Check out AJ Leon’s Lac project which is an inspiration and watch out for the small guys who have great ideas, and are more agile at trying things out, they just don’t always make the press so are harder to spot.

Some great examples from the corporate world include:

  • LEGO Cuusoo who are crowdsourcing, pre-market making designs and sharing 1% of revenue with the idea originator and their helpers.
  • McLaren Applied Technologies are commercializing their technology and applying it to other industries. This is now the 2nd most profitable part of McLaren after F1.
  • Orange ‘Do Some Good’. Mobile phone app that helps people do good in 5 minutes or less

4.  Do you think we learn enough from our failures within the charity sector? What can we be doing moving forward to better learn from things gone awry?   

No we don’t learn enough from failure.  AND I think it is the single biggest thing that stops innovation. It all comes back to fear. We like to celebrate success and push failures under the carpet. That’s what human behavior dictates and is reinforced in us by society and education systems from an early age. We need to go against the grain and shout about, celebrate and learn from failure.

A High Value Donor team that I trained in creativity and innovation took away a new “fail yea” agenda onto every team meeting. Having permission to celebrate failure, made it OK to admit mistakes and shared failures ensured the same mistakes were not repeated. This approach made a big difference to the success of future high value events that had previously failed in some way. Failure has to be encouraged as part of an organisations culture and again, has to be driven from the top.

5.  You might have seen I recently blogged about everyone wanting to be second. Why do you think that is? Are we paralyzed by fear? Is this a sector specific thing?

Great blog. I think you sum it up. Second is safe. Second is less risky. That’s why organisations like the comfort zone of being second.

However in an increasingly competitive marketplace I would agree with Seth Godin’s point in Purple Cow that second is more risky than first.

Second is more risky because second is the same as everyone else. Second is boring. If we are going to raise more money we need to be remarkable. First is remarkable. Being second, third, fourth etc. means we are the same as everyone else and that in a competitive world is very risky.

We are paralyzed by fear and we need to get over ourselves. Look at any successful entrepreneur; they accept that failing is inevitable. They fail fast and learn. This is a key to their success.

Fear of failure is not sector specific, although I think the fear of being seen to ‘waste’ donations is another barrier that further prevents charities innovating.

We shouldn’t aim to fail, and it’s important to minimize risk of failure. Do your research, pilot on a small-scale, test and refine. But do something. Your idea might not work and that’s ok because you tried something new. However, it’s not ok for your idea not to work because you cut corners or were lazy. There is a big difference.

6.  As someone who spends such a big chunk of time talking about what it means to be innovative, why do you actually think it’s so important? Can’t we just tick along doing what we’ve always been doing?

Sure thing, you can just tick along. That’s fine. Your choice.

“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten” Anthony Robbins

As a fundraiser, your job is not to ‘just tick along’. Your job is to make a difference. Your job is to do the very best job you can for your donors and beneficiaries and anything less than that isn’t good enough. It might take some more thought, more time, more risk but if your organisation is going to raise more funds, engage more donors, work with more volunteers, create more awareness and achieve its mission then it has to be innovative to survive. Innovate or die. Simple as that. Your choice.

This interview featured in the first flat earther newsletter last month. I thought I would also share it here just in case you missed out.

As always, love to know your thoughts.