From M&E to L&A: Improving what we measure and why

I had a chance to catch up with Alan Hudson yesterday, and the conversation brought me around to an idea that I’ve been trying to articulate for a while. Though admittedly still a bit abstract, here’s the idea. We’ve made monitoring and evaluation—grouped together as M&E—a core expectation of any social or development effort. As I’ve argued…

Multidimensional empathy: a half-serious analytical framework

Progress requires action. Action in any form—political, commercial, charitable, religious, etc.—requires crossing the divisions that exist in the world. Crossing divisions requires trust. Trust requires empathy. Therefore: Progress requires empathy. Roughly, that’s the thinking behind the use of empathy as an analytical category and practical instrument in the social impact space. Empathy appears in a variety…

Social movements v. social entrepreneurs

David Callahan wrote a great piece on Inside Philanthropy yesterday, describing how the rise of funding for social entrepreneurs hasn’t been matched by a rise in funding for social movements. (HT Rakesh Rajani) Callahan points to the fundamental shifts in values and discourse that have happened as a result of the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, LGBT rights organizing,…

Financing the Sustainable Development Goals: maybe $11.5 trillion is not enough

The UN’s Financing for Development Conference is happening in Addis Ababa this week. It’s the first of three events this year that could set the global development agenda for the next decade and a half. It’ll be followed by final agreement on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in New York in September, and (hopefully) an agreement on…

Be a language teacher: a new management metaphor

Management comes naturally to few people. It’s an extension of a common ability to organize effort towards an outcome, but with a mix of communication, analysis, risk assessment, and (even) empathy that makes the practice notably less intuitive. Yet over the last century, we’ve increasingly organized ourselves in structures that require management as a function and professional practice. People must somehow…

Always in design mode

I recently finished reading Ezio Manzini’s Design, When Everybody Designs: An Introduction to Design for Social Innovation. In it, he puts forward an abstract description of the “design mode” as a combination of three things: a critical sense turned on reality, a creativity to posit a new state of affairs, and practical sense of what it takes to turn…