Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Embarrassing Discipline

"Creating lasting environmental, social,and economic change requires discipline -- a concept with which many foundations...have traditionally struggled."

Susan Wold Ditkoff and Susan J. Colby, "Galvanizing Philanthropy," Harvard Business Review, November 2009.

And discipline comes from markets, elections or other governance mechanisms -- none of which is especially relevant or strong in philanthropy. So, discipline has to be self-imposed. That's the rub. How do you do it? This useful article seems so self evident that it's embarrassing. Yet I suspect few foundations really follow its basic argument.

"We think of this process as getting clear, getting real, and getting better. How do we define success? What will it take to make change happen? How can we improve our results over time." Great questions we should ask everyday.

There's still the problem of 75,000 foundations "getting clear, getting real, and getting better." That's a lot of individual clarity. Some might call this entrepreneureal heaven or hell. But it would be a good start.

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