Challenging times these days, eh? My goodness. It’s like we are being slapped on each side of our face over and over. Between COVID, polarizing politics, racial injustice, people who seem to just HATE each other, fear, brutality, violence, ongoing environmental challenges - we can’t seem to catch a break. It becomes overwhelming. How can we begin to address these systemic problems, and feel like we are contributing meaningfully?
As a corporate leader, 2020 presents an opportunity to participate in the rebuilding we’ll need after we’ve torn ourselves apart as a global society. It’s possible to begin constructing a future you want for your business or organization, based also on what the planet needs for recovery. The key is to start by figuring out what positive impact is achievable, given your limited resources of time and money.
The question you may be asking yourself is, "How?"
The most critical first step in determining what role you can and should play in creating lasting change, is prioritizing. If you begin an impact project or program without taking the necessary steps to prioritize, or deciding what makes the most sense for your business first, you won’t get there fast enough.
You need to ask yourself questions like:
After going through these prioritization questions, narrow in your responses and land on one to two high-impact and well-prioritized goals that are going to help you succeed as a company, but that also help you to deliver on impact over time.
Once you have completed a successful prioritization exercise, you are much more able to focus intently on finding critical partners and collaborators, funding if that’s what you are most needing, or ways to advocate for the change you think is most needed. If you don’t prioritize first, you run the risk of playing whack-a-mole with all of the different issues and challenges that touch your organization or that drive you to seek change.
Here’s an example:
An idea exists to improve market access for health services in poorer countries and regions. The owner of the idea knows she can have significant impact once her solutions reach a generous sized group of pilot testers, but how is the question. Approaching this challenge could lead us down several paths:
In our example, once these questions are answered, we determine that the idea could be replicated in several regions as an initial pilot, but more funding is needed to get the pilots off the ground. The markets exist and regulation is not really the challenge. Financial services firms are abundant to help the local health facilities obtain financing and support. Thus we can narrow in on funding and pilot development. Once the funding is in hand, and the pilots underway, only then can the idea owner start considering what comes next. Only then can the next phase of impact be possible. Only then can other partners, including financial services firms, technical trainers, advocacy groups (if relevant), co-funders, etc be brought into the mix.
Priority setting is the most critical first step in making a positive impact. In our work as partnership advisors, it truly is a must before any other steps are taken in identifying partners or funders.
In 2020, with the ground quaking beneath us, we know we all play a role in seeking positive change. Even with the greatest desire, passion and intent, we must start somewhere. Using an effective priority setting process will help ensure all future action is truly effective and takes us forward with intention.