Innovation is Nothing Without Execution

I've rarely seen a more concise and compelling articulation of the challenges America must face in order to achieve greater social impact than that of Mario Moreno's newest opinion piece from Venture Philanthropy Partners:

Can we—donors, policy makers, foundation and agency heads, civic and business leaders, and nonprofit execs—come together more to demand solid execution from our public agencies, public schools, and nonprofits, and then back up our requirements with the support and reasonable resources necessary for success?

Can we find new ways to encourage—and aggressively support—more of our nation’s remarkable 20- and 30-something talent to make a difference to through involvement with existing public, private, and nonprofit organizations that desperately need their energy and fresh minds? How can we tap the large “baby boomer” pool, now in their 50s and 60s, who are seeking greater life significance? Can we find better ways to channel and support their desire to bring experience, wisdom, and resources to public service, nonprofit, or socially focused enterprise?

And, maybe most importantly, what can we do in a radically different way to find and develop the talent that resides within our communities who, given the opportunity and support, can provide critical ties back to the communities to be served and play a more consequential leadership role beyond their communities in the larger society? What can we do to help institutions change their ways to better recruit from these three rich talent pools and integrate them into their operations as leaders and change agents, while encouraging and benefiting from their knowledge, experience and diverse perspectives?

Striking a better balance between our desire to stimulate innovation and our need for effective execution may be one approach. And, inherent in that, comes the need for better compensation, improved support systems, and, most of all, an infrastructure/ecosystem that recognizes and rewards execution as much as innovation. Not an either/or scenario, the combination of innovation and execution is vital.

I especially like recognition of donor responsibility (or at least a call to those willing to do the slow and steady work of sector building) as well as his recognition that these questions must be answered across sectors in order to advance significant impact.

Susan Herr

Posted at 1:22 AM, Jan 31, 2008 in Accountability | Intergenerational | Philanthropic Strategy | Permalink | Comment