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I heard this term a few weeks ago. It is mostly akin to 'green washing' but this time its about how organizations proclaim impact when in fact it's a false, misleading or unproven claim. It's also impact washing when the impact declared or reported did not grow out of the interventions claimed but other causal factors or intervening factors are present, thus other contesting views of explanation exist.
The extent of impact washing is hard to measure but just take for example, how organizations paddle up the numbers or massage the situations in order to meet donor standards or comply with requirements, without truly addressing the complexities of the unintended consequences their actions can impact or effected.
In my book Provocateurs not Philanthropists, I problematize the issue of short-term breakthroughs over the obsession for large-scale, massive, dramatic impacts and successes on the ground. Listening to a keynote last week from a multilateral global innovation facility programme, I can't help but feel more alienated. The search for a "major scalable project" is such that new, grassroots, or micro-projects will not be able to meet this. The logics are miles apart.
Given the 'innovation plus humility' mantra, I wonder how many of these innovations are actually taken up by the government or private sector to grow after being cocooned by grants and innovation finance so that national development owners take charge of this growth? Are they concerned with eco-systems development, taking a holistic role, rather than a project piece on
the economic development pie or with national priorities? I hope that humility culture goes down to the partners and grantees as well, because success without integrity is untenable and deceptive.
Impact washing happens at both micro and macro levels. It's not only the outcomes that matters but how do you get to these outcomes and what happens on the way.
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Problem-solving with a helicopter view is better for critical thinking and analysis. As you go higher and higher, you see the problem at much-bigger picture. You see more areas adjacent to the problem, requiring you to think big-picture, lose sight of specificities for a while, and get down to building a synergy and integrative frame of mind while constructing solutions. Your horizon becomes wide and your frame of reference expands. Your curiosity is
Specifically, the helicopter view helps you:
1. Separate the wheat from the chaff
Take all the noise out of the problem and focused on top two things that needed solution. Keep your values and priorities behind any solution. Sometimes, it is just staring at your face because you're unable to see the big picture.
2. Connect the dots to opportunities and long-term issues
Big picture thinking doesn't just solve the obvious problem. It also presents opportunities to be cultivated and grown in-house. That means that you're looking at a larger scope beyond the upsides and downsides of your actions. Aside from opportunities, learn to look at what's coming out in the corner as you analyze relationships and dynamic forces that are impacting your work in your industry. Find patterns from connections and interplay of moves and countermoves of the actors
3. Generate solutions you're team can own and be proud of
Big picture thinking helps everyone in the team have a holistic, integrative, and interconnected frame of mind when discussing options, alternatives, and possibilities. Your team is not siloed from other teams in the organization, weaving new discoveries into what's existing in terms of processes and systems. People can navigate solutions without overhauling what works or reinventing the wheel.
Take a helicopter view when things are starting to look too messy and unclear. The best frame of mind is to take a step out of the nitty gritty and concentrate on what this problem presents in the larger scheme of things and what possibilities awaits the solver.
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Since the death of the Queen Elizabeth the Second, people from all over the world felt a profound sadness for her passing. Some people had a visceral, unexpected feeling of grief, not in a way expected.
This seemingly unexplained feeling is not something that I currently hold. Although I recognized that for some people, the Queen and the British Monarchy and its colonial legacies are very hard to erase in the memory of individuals, nations, and institutions. The Queen is very much loved. Imperialist expansions were not.
I sincerely think that the world should celebrate that Queen Elizabeth had the fullest life as a reigning monarch. It is now the end of her era. A new era and hopefully a monarchy should be established.
The old is gone and the new dispensation heralds new ideas, thinking, and actions.
As Canada is part of the Commonwealth, I can only sincerely hope that a 'slimmed down' monarchy will contribute to a more vibrant commonwealth of nations where legacies of colonialism and imperialism are addressed and that new ties based on equality are tried. These issues are not going to go away soon.
It's hard to predict how the institution of monarchy unfolds, it could very well be the last. We should continue to question its relevancy today, tomorrow, and in the next decade. Only in questioning, we can find real answers.
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You practically have three months to go before the year ends.
Look back at your 2022 Major Goals and Plans and ask yourself:
1. Did I accomplish what I planned to do?
2. Where am I in the spectrum of not done versus ongoing or complete?
3. What has been the major success factors in achieving these this year?
4. What are the major obstacles for completion?
5. What or with whom should I be communicating my progress?
6. THE MOST IMPORTANT: How can I use the last remaining three months to get me closer to my larger goals. What success habits can I repeat?
If you're winning every time, chances you don't need this reminder.
But in on-purpose world and beyond, reality sucks. High inflation, flattened economy, supply chain woes, decreasing donations and charitable giving, higher donor standards, compliance issues impact the sector. There are many persistent issues to deal with than what meets the eye.
At the start of 2022, you started the year with such hopefulness and gung-ho attitude, it's time to use that same level of energy to win the race.
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Feeling down, low, sad, distracted, depressed, or anxious.
Feelings are feelings.
You have the power to detract these negative emotions and convert them to powerful feelings of self-esteem and energy.
Everyday if you find yourself with those feelings, quickly cut it down but focusing on positive, empowering, energizing, and renewing thoughts.
Think about last challenge you overcame despite the odds against you.
Think about the last problem you solved in your organization.
Think about a difficult situation when you were able to navigate carefully.
Think about the daily wins you completed as against your goals.
Think about the love, support, and devotion you receive daily from your loved ones.
Take back the mental space out of negativity. Clear this up every time a negative thought peeps out and disrupt your momentum.
Stop consuming content that does not support your mental health. Recognize what is good and what should be abolished in your content diet.
As an experiment, I stop reading my daily news on my phone. After a week, I felt more centered, less distracted, and more energized. I can quickly settle down at night and have a good night sleep.
There is nothing that should permeate in the mind when it's not even worth a thought or two.
Try this and the positive self-talk maintenance and you will know the difference.
The quality of your work and life starts with the quality of your psychological life.
Guard it and defend it ruthlessly.
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I have always tried to champion taking a closer look at many definitions we find our ourselves and our organizations in constant encounter. As a rule, as a leader, define this very well internally, because the danger lies in the unexamined, ill-suited paradigms like oversized coats that do not fit well with perceived reality.
Disruption- what does disruption mean to your social business, on-purpose organization, or cause-based advocacy?
Innovation- what does innovation look like, feel like at your level of operation?
Effectiveness- what drives effectiveness? is this a long-term purposive aim or an operational value?
Impact- whose impact are we talking about here? do they know that you're contributing to that pie? is this measured across the organization?
Sustainability- what sustainability lens do you subscribe to? are your actions guided by global, local, and community goals?
Success- what success brings about? is this a desirable path or a mini-breakthroughs would be enough?
Seek out clarity and intentional discussion on these issues on a regular basis. Meanings change as people change and institutions grow. Your past reviews may not hold more weight now than 5 years ago. It could look very different as you move forward with your short-term plans.