Is Yours an Innovative Nonprofit?

Innovative nonprofits require stepping out of comfort zone

I tweeted an Inc Magazine article out to my Twitter followers last week that I found to be so simple, yet so telling. Its title: 24 Ways to Immediately Discover How Innovative You Are.

 

Innovation is scary. It’s a sexy word, but actually being innovative takes a lot of hard work and effort. But I can’t stress enough how important it is in today’s business world.

 

It doesn’t matter what industry, cause, or company size – if you’re not innovative, you’re going to get left behind. The Technological Revolution is going to happen whether you like it or not, and you can either choose to embrace change and get a proactive start on adapting to a new consumer norm, or you can wait for things to happen and spend a long time figuring out how to get with it.

 

Here are a few notes from that article that I thought would resonate with innovative nonprofits:

 

We incorporate the voice of youth in our strategy and community outreach. I have spoken to this before and find it so important. You have to remember that the next generation is only a few years away from making big financial decisions or even looking for a job. It’s important to get their opinion and get it now.

 

We encourage meeting-free days and create freedom and space to think. This is something that I find so important. Often times at my own job, I am so stressed out by my calendar and preparing for this meeting and that meeting, that I don’t have time to actually do any work, let alone be creative and think. Most of my creative thinking happens on Saturdays because I’m relaxed, I don’t have anywhere to be, and I’m in a better mood because of it.

 

We are candid and transparent in our communication to customers and employees. I stress this to my clients all the time – being authentic in a world of automation is so valuable. Customers will respect you and engage with you because they can tell that you’re doing the same.

 

It’s okay to challenge our status quo, regardless of hierarchy. One of the things that bothers me most about the corporate world is that people will spend days going around a lower-level associate just because that person’s title suggests they are less capable. This has happened in every single job I’ve held and it wastes time. The interesting thing about this time period is that no one has worked in a marketplace like this one before – we’re all learning together. And I have the advantage of being a Millennial because I’m what every single business is trying to figure out. Years of experience do count. But don’t be disrespectful to someone newer just because their title suggests their newness.

 

We assess for innovation ability when we hire. The age-old question: are you hiring the right people for the job? In Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, she talks about one of her favorite questions she’d ever gotten in an interview: How can I help you fix this problem? This is a question someone who’s innovative asks. Pay attention to the interviewee’s desire to help you evolve.

 

Worried your company is too established to be innovative? Here’s a great article from Huffington Post to get you thinking.

Did you look at this list? What are some of your favorites? Let us know in the comments!