The Mighty Five: July.
A cross-sector curation of the month’s best social impact listens & reads
We read and listen to a lot around here. Articles, journals, case studies, podcasts – anything that provides nuggets of insight to fuel our mission and work. And we distill them down to our very top five in a regular monthly roundup. We hope you gain as much from reading it as we do from curating it.
Hubris is no match for proximity.
The New York Times | 30min
In a fascinating exposé, the NYT calls out consulting giant McKinsey for the massive failure of their largest contract ever. While many factors led to the implosion of their work with South African power company Eskom, we couldn’t help but hone in on the fact that contracting decisions were made by supervisors who “lacked the local knowledge to sense trouble ahead.” It’s perhaps hubristic for any external consultant to believe they can achieve full levels of local context. But that doesn’t mean we can’t find practical ways to structure engagements and assemble teams that prioritize proximity – there’s too much at stake.
Quit phoning it in.
Harvard Business Review | 7min
Speaking of practical ways to nurture proximity, we founded Mighty Ally while living and working on separate continents. It’s no exaggeration to say that without videoconferencing, we wouldn’t even exist and couldn't operate in a way that allows for (relatively) seamless collaboration between us and our clients. HBR underscores the power of this visual, virtual tool: shorter meetings, improved engagement and understanding, and – most importantly – a direct increase in organizational alignment and decision making. Nothing can replace in-person proximity. But in its absence there’s almost no excuse to rely on teleconferences when video options abound.
Be the (systems) change you wish to see.
FSG | 26min
“Systems change” is a goal for many funders. But how many have the internal capacity to alter their own systems of designing, executing, and evaluating? The latest FSG white paper shines light on the need for foundations to challenge explicit, semi-explicit, and implicit frameworks. “There’s no systems change without organizational change and no organizational change without individual change.” From our perspective, this mandate applies equally to NGOs. We ask: How can an organization claim an empathetic approach to beneficiaries if the internal culture is toxic? How does a grassroots-led theory of change take hold when an entire organization bends to the will of a director? How can a B-to-C social enterprise challenge the fundamental systems of commerce if it can’t operate with the discipline demanded of a private corporation?
Power to the people.
Fast Company | 3min
It was hard to miss the mass social media uproar that accompanied the Trump administration’s separation policies for asylum-seeking families. When an issue reaches the online ignition point, one might wonder: How much can my tweet, Facebook share, or Instagram story actually affect policy and action? A Penn study suggests that a critical mass of only 25% is needed to tip the scale towards social change. In the era of #FakeNews and Russian bots, we’re not sure if this is encouraging or discouraging. But just like every vote, it’s a good reminder that individual voices do matter.
Public-private partnerships to meet global nutrition goals.
Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition | 23min
The UN recently announced that progress on the Sustainable Development Goals remains uneven, and not all 17 goals will be met by the target date of 2030. This includes goal #2, which aims to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition.” As it stands, 13 million people die annually from vitamin and nutrient deficiencies, and chronic diseases directly related to poor diet. So GAIN and the USCIB Foundation are calling on the private sector to step up and help buck this trend. If the 13 million lives aren’t incentive enough, there’s also $12 trillion in market opportunity to be realized over the next 15 years.
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