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Monday 19 January 2015

What will be your partnership's epitaph?

Here is a very engaging 20 minute TED talk by social activist and fund raiser Dan Pallotta (brought to my attention by Jonathan Andrews of Remarkable Partnerships):

It challenges the way we perceive and relate to charities and non-profit organisations.   

During his talk Pallotta speaks about what a non-profit/social initiative would like to have written on its tombstone once its natural life-cycle has come to an end.

This struck me as a very simple yet powerful idea. Asking the partners in a social initiative to discuss the epitaph they would like to see written on the metaphorical tombstone marking the end of their work together would, because of the visceral finality of the image, concentrate partners' minds upon what is really important and what their initiative's lasting legacy ought to be.

Such a discussion would strip away the pressures of the present moment and expose the faulty thinking and assumptions that can easily masquerade as good and proper practice. (For example, Pallotta describes how giving seemingly proper but actually undue attention to minimising overheads can cause social initiatives to become starved of resources and unable to achieve their goals and aspirations.)

So, what words do you want to see on the tombstone that marks the end of your initiative's life story? And what faulty thinking and assumptions do you need to clear out of the way in order to deserve them?  


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