Guest post by Malik S. Nevels, J.D., Executive Director, Illinois African American Coalition for Prevention
Are you changing the game? How do you balance organizational legacy with the need to grow, adapt, and transform? What organizations are effectively tackling issues big enough to matter yet small enough to change? When is it ok to fail?
These are just a few of the questions that over 500 attendees at this morning's GameChangers Plenary pondered as Emmett Carson, CEO of Silicon Valley Community Foundation moderated a panel of three incredible "GameChangers:" Gary Knell, president and CEO of National Public Radio; Bill Shore, founder and CEO of Share Our Strength; and Patty Stonesifer, former chair of the White House Council for Community Solutions.
Emmett Carson started off the session by asking the panel how they defined “game changing.” According to Gary Knell, to determine whether or not your organization is changing the game you simply needed to ask yourself one question: If our organization were to disappear today would someone else be able to fill the gap tomorrow? If the answer is yes then your organization probably isn’t changing the game. Patty Stonesifer stated that game changing requires “disrupting the status quo”, establishing Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG), and assembling a competent team to bring about change. Reflecting on his work with Share Our Strength, Bill Shore suggested that in order for organizations to make change that really matters they must be able and willing to effectively solve problems on the scale they exist or else they find themselves changing not much of anything.
Carson also explored with the panel the relationship between risk taking, failure, and impacting change. Citing the Case Foundation’s Five Values of Fearless Changemakers, Stonesifer encouraged organizations to “make big bets, experiment early and often, and let failure be your teacher.” She recounted her “big bet and failure” while working as CEO for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She fast-tracked a transitional housing project in Seattle, WA. It was only after spending millions on the project did she learn that the real focus should have bee on making investments to end homelessness. Agreeing with Stonesifer, Shore stressed the importance of managing failure, keeping your organization “relevant”, and listening to what the market is telling you. While organizations must stay true to their core values, Shore was steadfast with his belief that everything else should be up for grabs, including pursuits that lead to failure.
Knell provided one of the better examples of organizations that are “changing the game.” During his tenure as CEO of Sesame Workshop the company launched Takalani Sesame Street, a South African adaptation of the popular educational children’s television program. Recognizing the large number of children living with HIV AIDS in South Africa, the show followed through on a BHAG and introduced the very first HIV/AIDS positive character to help de-stigmatize the disease through age-appropriate messaging.
Be sure to visit these GameChangers and learn more about how they are changing the gama:
Gary Knell, National Public Radio
Bill Shore, Share Our Strength
Patty Stonesifer, White House Council for Community Solutions