Creating a Collaborative Culture: 3 phases, 7 steps

kevinOn Tuesday last week, Kevin Roberts Worldwide CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi London kindly hosted a gathering of prospective stakeholders interested in learning more about and contributing towards the Global Rugby Collaborative (GRC). The GRC aspires to unite people and organizations from around the world who are interested in creating positive social change through rugby with a shared vision to “Together, Create a Better World through Rugby”. You can learn more about the GRC here but this blog is more about the process we’re going through to create this collaborative structure.

While establishing the GRC network I have read a lot about collaboration. Having also been a member of various high performing sports teams for many years it has enabled me to really reflect upon how best to create a successful Culture of Collaboration. The GRC is a real-life case study, early on in its development. So, I have come up with 3 phases including 7 steps (I love #7) towards building this culture – steps I am currently going through myself! I hope they are helpful to you whether personally or professionally, in developing a culture of collaboration and I would be interested to hear your thoughts. What has worked for you? What have been your challenges? How have you maintained a culture of collaboration, having started one?

PHASE 1: CATALYZING THE COMMUNITY -

Step 1: Inspire through a Shared Vision - Why would someone like Kevin Roberts – a world-class CEO, care to contribute his most valuable asset – time – to the GRC? Honestly, I haven’t asked him directly but my guess is he likes the idea that rugby can help change young peoples’ lives. He probably likes it because he appreciates what rugby did for him, what it has done for others he has supported over the years both personally and professionally. I would think also given his role, he appreciates the value and perhaps relishes the challenge of driving forward a creative idea that has the power to be transformational. In short, I’m sure he shares the vision for the GRC and I for one, am very grateful for that! I’m sure the other 30 attendees – all leaders in their respective fields from business, philanthropy, and Sports for Development – share that same vision. So that is the first step – to inspire a group of individuals / organizations to participate as community around a central, shared vision.

Step 2: Embracing Leaders - It’s relatively easy to come up with an idea. It’s much harder to execute on that idea and make it a reality. I’ve learnt this through my professional experience with both successes and failures. One of Saatchi’s core beliefs is that “an idea is not an idea until people participate in it”. So, in order for a newly assembled community to collaborate around an idea, you need them to participate in it. One key way to do this is to ask for the contribution of leaders in the space. So, in the field of Sports 4 Development (social change through sport – and rugby specifically) we were proud to have the CEO of the IRB, the President of RFU, CEO of Beyond Sport, the grant Manager from Laureus Sports for Good Foundation, and the Communications Manager from AIG in attendance, for example, among a number of other world-class leaders in their fields. Embracing leaders and asking for their contribution not only provides a fountain of valuable knowledge for the collaboration but also builds momentum, credibility and collective buy-in to the idea.

Step 3: Identifying Shared Purpose - Now we’ve gotten people to participate, how can we align them to build a strategy towards achieving the vision? Before we start talking about goals and objectives, strategies & tactics, 100 day action plans, etc, we first need to establish the foundation for this action to be built upon. The foundation is establishing a shared purpose. Core to a shared purpose are our shared beliefs and character. What do we believe in, how would we define ourselves? So, for two examples within the GRC community we believe that “Rugby has the power to change young peoples lives for the better”, “Rugby is a uniquely feasible asset to benefit the communities we serve”. Our character would include traits like: Innovative, Brave, Transparent, Supportive, Passionate, Collaborative. So, we need to understand others beliefs and character traits and unite with those who share the same ones. We then finally define the purpose for the collaborative together. This ends phase 1 (which was last week and is currently being documented) and we move on to phase 2 (this week & going-forward…)!

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PHASE 2: COLLECTIVE CONTRIBUTION –  

Step 4: Team Based Trust - High performing teams are build upon the most effective combination of individual strengths. Everyone brings different strengths to the table and the right combination of these strengths enables team members to respect each other. From respect builds trust. Because others have different strengths to ourselves, we respect their ability to perform a task and to support us in performing our task. In return we support them in achieving theirs. As a team, we all share the same objective. So, to build a collaborative culture, we need to identify individuals’ and organizations’ strengths and create the right positions through which they can make a meaningful contribution to the team. So, for the GRC we have created 5 task forces: Partnership Development, Fund Development, Network Development, Coach Development and Organizational Leadership Development. Underpinning these will be some generic functions across all task forces – comms & marketing, finance, reporting, etc. However, while enabling people to contribute based upon their strengths is important, we also need to understand how they can gain personal or professional benefit for their contribution. Other than believing in the vision and purpose, what drives their participation? For example, would they like: recognition, personal development, networking, sense of purpose, serving others, establishing deeper connections? Understanding the dynamics of individual motivation is as important as enabling individuals to contribute in a meaningful way. This is also arguably not an easy task to get right!

Step 5: Cooperative Game Plan – There are two ways of doing this – bottom up, and top down. I can’t tell you which one works best for the GRC yet as in reality we’ll likely do both simultaneously. Based upon feedback from members and other stakeholders to date, we have a good idea of what we would like to get done to support our members (strategies to achieve specific outcomes). The bigger question is how do we do it, what resources do we need, how can people help? So we will be asking each functional area to come up with a game plan (18 month strategic plan & associated action plans) of what they could do to help contribute towards us achieving certain defined outcomes (based upon our member needs) and likely also defining what other complimentary outcomes they could achieve. We can then compare the proposed functional outcomes horizontally (fit) and vertically (impact) to prioritize and ensure alignment. We will then coordinate resources around the chosen priority outcomes to support each others’ long-term (big hairy audacious) goals as we build step by step in achieving some smaller wins that build momentum and confidence towards us achieving our shared vision.

Step 6: Team First, Self Last - This is where the rubber meets the road. Now, its game time – we have to get the work done and it needs to be about the common goals. This is where egos have to be left at the door and individuals and organizations are committed to and contributing towards the vision they couldn’t otherwise achieve on their own. In order to support this, we first need to establish together the “rules of the game” our “code of conduct” – processes and rituals that reinforce collaborative behavior. If we can all agree upon these rules of the game before kick-off, we can hold each other accountable to the collaborative goals during game time and post-match review!

Step 7: Collective Celebration - Our code of conduct is not just about doing the right thing, it’s also about celebrating success together. So when we achieve things together we need to shout about it and celebrate not only the collective success but also thank each individual for their contribution towards that success. This may be as simple as recognizing the contribution or saying “thank-you”. More deeply, this reinforces why it is really important to understand each individuals’ drivers for participation so when we thank them, we can ask them what they are getting out of it and how we can help them further that individual need. The more we can support members of the community in achieving their personal objectives through contribution towards the collaborative objectives, the more motivated people will be and the more celebrations we’ll be able to have as we go-forward together!

GRC Facilitators

So, lastly as I reflect on this process – I would just like to give a quick shout out and thank-you to Kevin Roberts (top picture) & Saatchi & Saatchi London, our three primary facilitators for the GRC Stakeholder event: Nick Skytland (above left) Adam Armstrong (above, three from left) and Dan Nichols (above right) staff member Mallory Woods (behind the camera), for making our London event so collaborative!

 

Wellness: Young peoples’ lack of participation in sports is America’s biggest missed opportunity for long-term success.

If you glance over international education league tables, you may not be too proud to hear that the USA is punching way below its weight. For the biggest economy in the world, USA’s ranking at 17th (Pearson, 2012) and below average among OECD member countries, leaves much to be desired. In the land of opportunity, where education is the primary vehicle  to seize that opportunity, the USA is falling behind its peers. The American dream while still aspirational may be becoming just a little too impossible for too many, to attain. And it’s America’s most disadvantaged, urban youth, that will bear the brunt of this, as the achievement gap continues to grow. I believe improving the wellness of America’s young people is the key to getting the USA back on top.

 There are some broader but related challenges, evidenced by the following facts:

  • 71% of young people do not get the recommended daily dosage of physical activity;*
  • 1 in 3 young people are overweight or obese;*
  • 25% of middle school students report being a victim of violence;*
  • On average only 58% of young people in urban public schools will graduate;*
  • Obesity treatment costs total more than treatment costs for alcohol and smoking related treatment combined! At an estimated $190 billion / year (2005), they are quite literally unsustainable.**
  • Obesity has roughly the same association with chronic health conditions as does twenty years’ aging.***

* Up2Us website / ** Cawley J, Meyerhoefer C. The medical care costs of obesity: an instrumental variables approach. J Health Econ. 2012; 31:219-30. / *** R. Sturm, 2002 Health Affairs.org

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Elementary school participants in Play Rugby USA’s program compete in a fun, indoor, flag rugby tournament. 

So why does wellness matter?

In short, I believe wellness as a core component in USA’s educational policy is the single-most important factor in America achieving long-term economic success. Furthermore, that we need to focus on wellness as the most powerful prevention vehicle we have through our young people who hold our future in their hands.

As luck would have it, there is demand for this among our young people. Participation in sports as an extracurricular activity happens to be the one thing the vast majority of kids report they want to do. Why? Because sports are FUN! And, research would suggest that sports (assuming appropriate dosage of the right sport/s, coached in the right way) have proven to be the most effective vehicle for young people achieving and sustaining wellness. Sports prepare young people for life while developing healthy habits leading to improved health & fitness. This ultimately will lead to a reduction in the systemic treatment costs associated with America’s poor health.

 In New Directions for Youth Development, Michael Bergeron reported that students participating in 1 hour of moderate of physical activity, 4 – 5x per week, during which their heart-rate was at least 50% of maximum –would notice favorable changes in body composition and maintenance.

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Perhaps Sports biggest asset for young people, is that coached appropriately IT IS FUN! What better way to keep the kids coming back for more exercise!

Sports programs have been proven to be the best value approach ($ / student) by engaging multiple students on a frequent basis. The cost of participation in sports is multiples less than the cost of treating obesity. Clearly sports alone cannot prevent obesity but sports happen to be one of the few solutions that positively impact multiple other outcomes of a child’s development. A number of studies show that participation in sports has empowered young people to improve: attendance at school; cognitive function; academic performance; graduation rates and college matriculation rates; while reducing discipline issues; other delinquent behaviors; and ultimately, drop-out rates. In fact, sports correlate more strongly with low drop-out rates than any other activity (Up2Us position statement on Education).

Runners World recently wrote referencing a study published in PLoS One that fitter kids (aged 9 & 10) had significantly better memory recall, particularly in harder recall situations.

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Students from PS279 in the Bronx, representing “New Zealand” took it upon themselves to learn the Haka – a Maori war-dance and performed it at a Play Rugby USA tournament.

According to the Center for Disease Control, for young people the optimal dosage of activity is 1 hour / day of moderate to vigorous physical activity. While at school, physical activity can be achieved through participation in physical education classes, through recreation in the playground and through participation in sports. All three are important but sports have the advantage of engaging young people in structured safe play with positive adult role models (coaches) who can facilitate the development of life skills, increase activity levels & facilitate young people having fun. Moreover, sports delivered after-school provide an engaging alternative when young people are most at-risk of being inactive and / or making bad choices.

So, why are budget cuts year on year reducing opportunities for young people – especially those in urban areas who are disconnected or disadvantaged – to participate in sports? Why is physical education and sports not front-and-center in the educational agenda, rather than a massively underfunded after thought (which is the reality)? With these budget cuts, pay-to-play participation is on the rise and the future for America’s most in need young people does not look bright. Initiatives like the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” are a step in the right direction by increasing awareness but are still ancillary to the core educational agenda and in creating systemic action & change that is required.

According to a recent GAO Report (February 2012) only 55% of schools mandated physical education, and under 16% offered physical education at least 3 days / week (13.7% elementary, 15.2% middle, 3.0% high school). There’s 50 million students in America – so that’s a lot of kids not running around, having fun.

Furthermore, the USA, I believe, is one of the only countries in the world without a Sports Minister, sports department, or anything that remotely resembles a body that has any material influence over mandating or supporting sports participation in schools. Without Sports being a core component in America’s educational dialogue, we’re missing a huge opportunity to create a generation of healthy, successful people to drive our economy forward.

But, let me not criticize the powers that be, without making some suggestions:

 1) Instead of ObamaCare shouldn’t we have ObamaFit / ObamaPlay / ObamaSports. I do of course appreciate the need for access to healthcare (I am from the UK after all) but with the reality of finite resources, debt-ceilings and the associated opportunity cost of political decisions, can we not put our tax-money into prevention and start with our kids- our potentially most valuable asset or alternatively our largest long-term liability. There’s a stakeholder model here through public-private partnerships that can truly work, very efficiently, very effectively, to create a long-term legacy of a healthy America.

2) One such model (there are many) could be to simply multiply the force of Coach-mentors across the country (see CoachAcrossAmerica) delivering Sports-Based-Youth-Development programs. We could place them in schools to work alongside (not replace) physical educators and staff from organizations like Playworks – to jointly develop opportunities for students’ participation in sports during & after-school. If we’re moving towards an extended school day (that’s another debate) let’s ensure physical activity & sports are part of the day and the extension! I mean, I know our kids all love taking tests :) but can they also please play some games!

3) Let’s change and improve America’s sports culture from one of elitism and money making to one that also embraces and encourages amateurism and participation. Parents speak up! Sports don’t just have to be for the most talented “Varsity” athletes, they can be fun for all. Community programs don’t just have to be elite travel-leagues, let’s create some additional leagues that encourage participation, play, competition and fun. American professional sports will be just fine – they’re too big and too popular to fail, but let’s get our next generation of amateur sports players activated!

4) Let’s add in some new, less traditional American sports – providing something new & something different to engage our young people. There’s value in all sports if coached with a player-first philosophy but clearly with a blog called rugby4good I am somewhat biased towards rugby. So, to end my rant on wellness – America’s biggest missed opportunity – here’s some reasons why participation in rugby can help:

  • Rugby is inclusive, life-long, inexpensive and in it’s flag (non-contact) form, safe, simple to coach & flexible enough for almost every school in America to adopt. We have a best-in-class online curriculum and coach training program that can support this effort!
  • Rugby is a vigorous but seamlessly-engaging physical activity:
    • According to a study conducted by the University of South Florida Flag Rugby (6.03 METS) attains the highest activity levels when compared to flag football (4.93 METS), basketball (5.51 METS). Flag Rugby students also reported to be their highest engagement and competence level, closely followed by basketball and further behind again, by flag football. >6 METS is considered vigorous physical activity for young people.
    • Play Rugby USA’s most recent evaluations with middle school students indicate over 2 after school practices (3 hours total), average heart-rates of over 65% in boys and over 70% in girls.
  • Rugby is a second-to-none sports opportunity (vehicle) through which you can develop life-long values in young people:
    • It is player centered – requiring students to make decisions individually & together on the field, enabling them to learn from mistakes, support each other and “go-forward” together.
    • It is fast paced and dynamic – requiring students to “get there” with physical urgency and “switch on” mentally, to make the best decisions for their team in a rapidly changing environment.
    • It is continuous and fluid requiring students to constantly “play what they see” by constantly assimilating visual, verbal and physical queues and reacting accordingly.
    • The “spirit of rugby” is a core component of the laws of the game and engenders integrity, solidarity, commitment, discipline and respect in a way unsurpassed by other sports.
    • And finally, to quote one of our students – Zolia – “Rugby is sanity, you know, mental health”!

5 Ways the Global Rugby Collaborative will create a better world – are you our next partner?

On Tuesday September 10 at the Beyond Sport Summit in Philadelphia the Global Rugby Collaborative (GRC) was born. The innovative international network led by Play Rugby USA is the culmination of a big idea – seeking to unite and support Rugby4Good projects from around the world to create synergy, energy, and opportunity for all.

Check out the GRC’s launch video here (under 2 mins):

The GRC vision is “Together, Creating a Better World through Rugby,” while the GRC mission is “to create a world of better opportunities for young people, through rugby.” GRC member organizations, at launch, served over 18,000 young people a year across 37 countries, tackling some of the worlds most intractable social issues.

Are You Our Next Partner?

The GRC is seeking various shared-value partners–largely among corporations, other NGOs, government agencies and foundations to help deliver the mission across 5 primary functions:

1) CONNECT – pool knowledge capital, influence, and talents to benefit all members;

SKRUM Les

2) ADVOCATE - promote organized youth rugby as a positive & influential community asset;

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3) DEVELOP - secure and strengthen partnerships and resources to meet member needs;

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4) SHARE - distribute knowledge, experience and best practices across all R4G projects;

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5) SUPPORT - bolster the community through various services to be created for members.

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The GRC is expected to expand to close to 100 members ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and is planning to host a Young Leaders member-based initiative at the Rugby World Cup in England in 2015. One of the GRC’s initial projects will be to establish an International Coach Training Program to build capacity, resources, knowledge, and sustainability among its members.

Get involved at the GlobalRugbyCollaborative.Org.

7 Core Values of “Go-Forward, High Performance Teams”

Last week I was honored to join 30 fantastic facilitators – under the leadership of my friend Lou Bergholz & Edgework Consulting – at the MIT Sloan business school’s annual team-building workshop. Together, we were “Facilitastic”!

As I supported two newly formed teams of 7 students over two days through a series of engaging but challenging team-building activities, it prompted me to reflect upon my experience competing on elite level rugby teams and how I have translated those learnings in business and coaching. Over the two days it was revealing to see that despite my two teams having completely different and extremely diverse skills sets, they still relied on the same core values to be successful. I identified 7 such values throughout the workshop, which I call the 7 C’s.

I have subsequently integrated these 7 core values (7 C’s) into a “Go Forward, High Performance Team Model”. A Go Forward, High Performance Team (GFHP) seeks to learn (from information available), to improve and develop (individually and as a team) and to never give up in achieving their ultimate performance.  There are four foundational components to a GFHP Team:

  1. A Culture Keeper
  2. 7 C’s / Core Values
  3. Balanced Roles
  4. Defined Process

Below, I define briefly the 7 C’s / Core Values that make up a GFHP Team (I will tackle roles and process at a later juncture). At the center of these values is a “Culture Keeper” – a Team Manager, Team Leader, Captain – someone responsible for balancing and operationalizing the team’s values (on and off the field) to develop high performance norms, expectations and processes.

 

Go Forward High Performance Team

 

The 7 C’s (Core Values) of “Go Forward, High Performance Teams”:

  1. Clear Goals & Roles: Vital to a team’s success is a clearly defined and understood goal of what the team needs to achieve and how each team member can contribute to that goal based upon their individual strengths and weaknesses. This is balanced with an understanding of individual team members’ needs and goals to help their personal development, commitment and contribution to the team’s long-term success.
  2. Communication: Specifically open, honest and transparent communication is key to a team’s success. Active listening is a key component of effective communication, as is the raising of red-flags as challenges arise in the team building or task execution process.
  3. Common Purpose: An effective team aligns its individual members, skills and beliefs towards a common purpose as a unit of collaborators. The common purpose will relate in part to the tasks needing to be completed by the team but must also be sensitive to broader environmental factors, such as organizational culture, systems, structures & processes, for example.
  4. Collaboration: Cohesion and cooperation within a team towards their common purpose is what enables a team to achieve more together than the sum of its parts could do individually. Sometimes, the highest performing teams will use collaboration and communication to create a team roadmap based upon the information available to them, when a common purpose or specific goal are not clearly defined.
  5. Commitment: An effective team needs to be committed to achieving its objectives. Commitment includes a “team-first, self-last” attitude but also appreciates the value in diversity that each individual brings to the team. Thus, there needs to be a commitment to support each individual team-member’s development as part of the broader team development process. This leads to increased skills, higher retention and improved performance over a longer term.
  6. Change Management: A successful team recognizes that the world can be ambiguous, complex and change is inevitable. Thus a team should constantly evolve and strive to predict, react & adapt to change. This reduces the materiality of external pressures that may otherwise arise and inhibit team performance at critical moments.
  7. Confidence: In addition to being an outcome from a healthy mix of the aforementioned core values above; confidence can also be developed through individual and team preparation and practice. Confidence – while not referred to as often in team-building literature – I would argue is one factor that can enable a team to out-perform expectations on paper, and deliver the ultimate in high performance performance results in practice.

There are clearly many models and theories available regarding effective teams. This is my own creation of a “Go Forward, High Performance Team” based upon a little research, combined with my personal experience on the field and in the office. More to come but in the meantime, I am interested in your thoughts….

Spirit of Rugby Awardees speak about their experience

Play Rugby USA interviewed their Summer Academy “Spirit of Rugby” awardees. The awards were presented to Zoila and Braulis for exhibiting rugby values on and off the field. I have listed a few of their quotes and embedded the youtube interviews below. Enjoy!

Spirit_Quotes_2013

Well done guys – we’re proud of you. Keep Going Forward!

Anything similar you would like me to share, please respond below!

Values and Culture: 5 Images that define us

I have blogged twice to date about Play Rugby USA’s “Values in Action”: #1 Go-Forward and #2 Try Makers, not just Try Scorers. To set the broader scene, using some inspirational images our 5 Organizational Values in Action are explained below:

Play Rugby USA has 5 Values in Action: These are how we operationalize our broader organizational values (to follow in subsequent posts). Our values represent behaviors in the workplace defining us and how we work and our culture.

1) Go Forward: Strive to learn, improve, to experience personal growth, and to never give up.

Learn, Strive to achieve personal growth and never give up

2) Try Makers, not just Try Scorers: exhibiting unselfish behaviors and sacrificing potential personal highlights or immediate satisfaction for the benefit of your team, your family, and your community.

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3) Get There: In games, practices, and in life there is always an opportunity to make a positive impact with your actions and your voice.

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4) Switch On: Being present, prepared, thoughtful & focused; actively listening and then speaking with others points of view in mind.

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5) Play What you See: The ability to make decisions, sometimes on the fly, to adapt and react positively to whatever situation you find yourself in.

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We use these Values in Action in our office in terms of how we interact with each other, our partners and stakeholders and generally in how we run our organization. Importantly however, these Values in Action are embedded into our Rugby4Good curriculum, coach accreditation and therefore delivered daily to our participants. The VIA help explain mutual expectations and behaviors associated with our 9 organizational values. I will explore these values in separate posts, to come.

What are your organizational values and how to you embed them to into the DNA of your organization, to define your culture?

Making an Impact: Local Knowledge and Passion vs Science.

If you had all the money in the world needed to solve the world’s problems, would you support a program founded upon local knowledge and passion, or an evidenced-based scientific approach?

Off the back of my last post about creating a Logic Model, I coincidentally read a couple of articles in the Non Profit Quarterly, about the pros and cons of “Strategic Philanthopy”. This opened up a  debate between Bill Schambra (director of the Hudson Institute’s Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal) and Paul Brest (former President of the Hewlett Foundation).

The links to the articles are below along with my one paragraph synopsis and take-aways. My insights are written based upon my practical experiences in developing a non profit organization, and clearly not as an academic!

My Synopsis:

Article 1: The problem with Strategic Philanthropy: (Bill Schambra)

http://www.nonprofitquarterly.org/philanthropy/22729-the-problem-of-strategic-philanthropy.html

Local knowledge, traditional wisdom, compassion and common sense should drive foundation and philanthropists’ funding decisions, over scientific rationality (logic models and theory of change, etc) when it comes to solving human problems. These attributes tackle problems quickly based upon understanding the needs and problems of the communities they serve. There are too many factors causing such problems, for any science to fundamentally get to, and prevent the problem at its root cause. The time spent on developing the science (models, systems, etc) to understand this is time that could have been better spent delivering the service. So, if the program is is delivering a good service to treat a particular problem “write the damn check”.

Article 2: Bill Schambra’s problem with Strategic Philanthropy: (Paul Brest)

http://www.nonprofitquarterly.org/philanthropy/22745-bill-schambra-s-problem-with-evidence-based-philanthropy.html

Strategic philanthropy should include listening to the feedback and wisdom from the local community but it should be balanced with empirical evidence. Statistics can help us understand some of the underlying causes of problems, which while they may not fit neatly into one box, may enable more effective allocation of resources delivery of services. Theories are scientific by definition and may not be proven, per se, but basing decisions on the best evidence available is more effective to serve those in need, than ignoring evidence or not putting the effort into collecting such evidence.

My Take-away as a Non Profit Organization:

1) Balance: I’m not being non-commital but It is all about balance. Heart & passion combined with local knowledge can drive a program towards achieving positive outcomes. However, if you don’t have a way to evidence those outcomes, (some form of science) how do you know you are really achieving them.

2) Emergency relief as an exception? In emergency relief situations this may be different; given the need to react immediately and tackle an issue using local knowledge & common sense. Sometimes you just have to “Play what you see” as we say to the kids in our program.

3) We started with passion & local knowledge: My charity’s program – Play Rugby USA – was founded, driven and inspired upon heart and passion, based upon a belief that there was a local need and a vision that our services could change children’s lives for the better. We couldn’t prove it at the time, nor did we have any way of evaluating our outcomes.  We just knew it would work and had to sell partner organizations and funders on our vision and with our passion. We delivered through partnerships and expanded from 20 schools in 2006 to over 300 today.

4) We improve with both passion and science: Now, the program continues to be driven by the same passion but by having the appropriate systems and processes (science) in place, we are now able to more effectively improve our program and prove that we are making progress every day towards achieving our long-term vision to create “A Better World through Rugby”. While the non-profit environment is different from business, it is still competitive (and so am I) but we  understand the importance of team work and collaboration. We collaborate and partner with any organization that compliments our vision (and we do regularly) but the fact remains, if we want to fully fund our program and build capacity for the future, we also need to differentiate ourselves and be the best we can possibly be. Part of this means being outcome & evidenced-based, so we have benchmarks to build from. Having frameworks in place such as a Logic Model and Theory of Change help us to continuously improve our program and provide a better service (the reason we started in the first place was to deliver this service). The frameworks also, of course, help us secure much-needed funding.

5) Philanthropists & Foundations: Philanthropy is defined by Merriam Webster Dictionary as: “goodwill to fellow members of the human race; especially : active effort to promote human welfare.” It is therefore fundamentally about humanitarianism and a desire to improve people’s quality of life, through giving. So, on the surface it seems being more about “Playing what you see”. Luckily, there are some philanthopists and foundation that just “get it” and fund programs because they appreciate intrinsically, the value in the services being given. Our friends, at the LA84 Foundation are a great example of this. They understand the intrinsic value in youth sports. They like the fact we have a logic model but they don’t require it. They appreciate the fact we have kids playing a team sport, is better than those kids hanging out on the street. All charities need supporters like these.

But, the problem is – there isn’t enough foundations or philanthropists like this, or enough giving of money to solve all the world’s social problems. I say this with little data, but clearly not all the worlds problems are solved!

6) So, what would I do? Well if I had enough money to be a philanthropist, I would want to make the most impact I could. I’d support programs with passion, talent, leadership and understanding of their local community combined with a clear vision – first. However, I would want them to either have a proven ability to measure their impact or minimally a willingness & commitment to do so (science)- as we did in our charity. I would consider this part of them “Going-Forward”- striving to learn, improve and never give up (again, as we teach our kids). Otherwise, how would I know my money had been better invested here than elsewhere? This would be true even if I had enough money to solve all the world’s problems. I’d need to allocate that money effectively or it wouldn’t work. Without any science, based largely on playing what I see from exploring local communities, I’d likely get it wrong. Do I support the mother with AIDs, or a starving child? So for me, it’s a balance. However, forced to make a choice one way or the other:  I’d never fund a program that lacked local knowledge & passion, no matter how scientific their approach was. I can’t say it would be the same, the other way around!

How about you?