Chris Lysy over at Fresh Spectrum posed an interesting question: Do you have the capacity to fail? Venturing outside of “the way things are done” could lead to amazing success and a new approach to a previously unsolvable problem, but the more innovative and unproven the idea, the greater the risk that it falls flat. In the nonprofit sector, the failure of a new idea could mean loss of credibility in the community, cuts to already scarce resources and funds, and ultimately a decrease in the capacity to make a positive difference for individuals and communities. Although this (understandable) aversion to risk can help maintain current programs and service, will it help create the lasting change that we want to see in our world?
My approach with Strong Roots has always focused on helping groups and organizations build capacity (if you don’t believe me, look at the top of this page!). Chris’ post reminds me that capacity includes having the confidence to try new approaches, learning from the development of innovative ideas (such as through developmental evaluation), and being able to recover and move forward when things don’t work out as anticipated.