Eric Ries gives a short and interesting presentation on start-ups that the non-profit world can learn from. Eric starts by debunking a common idea – that entrepeneurs start with a great insight.  He suggests that the initial idea often has many flaws.  What makes for a successful start-up is the ability to “pivot” and develop the idea over time in way that meets a true need.  And the best way to do this is to make many small experiments.

If there is a word in the non-profit world that people seem to fear it is “experiment.”  I hear “that’s the way we do it here” 10 times for every one time I hear “Lets experiment with that.”  All too often our non-profit cultures are ones that encourage stability, not change.  But the point is not really about stability or change – its about serving needs.  If that is your lens, then you start asking to address unmet needs and how to serve better.  Even if it means you have to experiment.



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