you demonstrate it through your written actions, through every action you make. If it’s really important to you to have that value, you ask others for feedback about your actions connecting to your values on a regular basis. Take innovation: the willingness to be creative and to experiment - if that’s a value, it doesn’t just need to be stated; it needs to be acted upon. If that’s something that enough people at the board level and the senior team level are willing to put resources behind, then it’s for real. A board can measure willingness to innovate or experiment in many different ways, but it has to be measured. Whatever is important to leaders in the organization must be measured. Whatever values you want to perpetuate must be measured, otherwise it’s just a word on a wall, as you said. We are what we measure. I’ve been fortunate to have a foot in both the for-profit world and the nonprofit world, as an entrepreneur in both cases, and also as a board member on nonprofit boards. I’m as wild an entrepreneur, in the positive, creative sense, as you can find. My experience with nonprofits, and something I want to avoid with Fuse Corps, is, very often, the consensus-driven culture can really undercut
the desire to surface the truth, ask questions that are tough but necessary for the purposes of advancing the mission of an organization, and willingness to have some creative conflict. A lot of that stems from culture, but it goes back to what’s measured. On the corporate side, there’s plenty of accountability because there are bottom lines. On the nonprofit side, there can be such a consensus-driven culture that everybody’s very nice to each other and feeling good about work, but there’s no accountability, and there’s no level of urgency in the culture to counterbalance that willingness to settle for results that are not as good as could be achieved if people are really pushing themselves to the next level. If we really want to move forward in bringing benefit, we need to begin to hold ourselves accountable to higher aspirations. As a whole, the sector needs to stop worrying so much about theory of change, and focus much more on what you got done and how many lives that impacted. We spend so much time intellectualizing in the nonprofit world, and in making sure that everybody feels good and they’re onboard with everything, and we just
need to focus much more on our mission and how we can hold ourselves accountable to doing much better with what we have. Peter Sims is an award-winning author and entrepreneur. His latest book is Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries . He is also the co- author with Bill George of the best-seller True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership , a member of General Electric’s Innovation Advisory Panel, an Innosight Fellow, and co-founder of Fuse Corps, a social venture that places entrepreneurial leaders on yearlong grassroots projects with mayors and governors to tackle some of America’s most pressing problems.
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