As a professional speaker and trainer I get asked lots of questions. One of the most popular is :
“Which organisations are doing really great work on adapting their volunteering offer to meet the realities of the modern world?”
I always struggle to answering this question. Not because I don’t think anyone is doing such great work but because:
- Despite my 25 years experience, I do not have an encyclopaedic knowledge of what every Volunteer Involving Organisation on the planet is doing.
- When I engage in consultancy work with clients it’s professional to maintain confidentiality about that work, not blathering what those organisations are doing to the rest of the world.
There are, however, some more fundamental issues I have with that question:
- Why are we leaders of volunteer engagement always looking to someone else to pave the way?
- Why are we focusing our effort on borrowing what someone else is doing?
- Why would what someone in a different organisation is doing work in our setting and context?
- Why aren’t we coming up with our own innovations and solutions to the problems we face?
”The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.” – Albert Einstein
Perhaps we’re looking for answers elsewhere because we – and the non-profit sector more broadly – are so risk averse? Risk is seen as a bad thing, something we must avoid at all costs. It isn’t. Risk is an inherent part of life. It’s how we manage risk that is important.
Perhaps we’re looking for answers elsewhere because so many workplace cultures create a fear of failure? Not achieving your target, not hitting a key performance indicator (KPI), not reaching a goal – they are all seen as failures, poor performance. But failure is how we learn, it’d fundamental to learning, improving and innovating.
”There is no losing in jiujitsu. You either win or you learn.”
Carlos Gracie Jr.”
Whether it is anxiety about risk, or a fear of failure, or something else holding us back, I want to encourage us to stop looking for solutions elsewhere and start to find them ourselves.
You have unique insights and experience that are well placed to solve the problems you face in a way nobody else can. Without your pioneering solutions to your volunteer engagement challenges we will be stuck in an endless cycle of casting around for someone else’s ideas to apply to our – often very different – situations.
Your solutions can inspire others to do the same and start a snowball of innovation in our field.
Go and make it happen!
“The ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones who do.” – John McAfee
Because I know the title of this blog will have triggered an earworm for some of you, here is a link to the classic Fleetwood Mac track of the same title – You Can Go Your Own Way.