Friday, December 17, 2010

Where do we get ideas for innovation?

I’m writing articles over the next 10 days showing the work we’ve done in the past decade and the challenges we’ve overcome.
Our aim is to connect inner city youth with volunteers in structured, non-school tutor/mentor programs. Tangela is one teen who was with us for several years in the 1990s. She’s now a college graduate, mother, part of the work force, and getting a MBA! In this video she talks about how we’ve had a “transformative” impact in her life.

But where did we get our ideas?

"When nonprofit and community leaders share ideas, insights and information in ways that promote social impact...knowledge-sharing can improve organizational effectiveness. When we share what works and what doesn't... it results in accelerated learning, less reinventing the wheel, better service, and measurable results."
This is a 2003 quote by Mr. Tim Wilmot. Chief Knowledge and Evaluation Officer, Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation

I’ve been living this quote since 1976 when I first started to invite leaders of other tutor/mentor programs in Chicago to come together for monthly “lunch & learn” sessions.

In 1993 when we launched the Cabrini Connections tutor/mentor program in Chicago we also launched the Tutor/Mentor Connection. Its purpose was to share what we had learned in the previous 17 years, and to collect and share information from others in Chicago and around the world.

We did not know it at the time, but we were getting into the business of Knowledge Management. When we add an article to our web site, and point to the work someone else is doing via a link, we are making what we know available to the someone who visits our web site five minutes later, and to everyone else in the world who visit our web site ever.

By focusing the information we collect and share on ways to mentor youth from birth to work, we make our information more useful to anyone who visits our web site who is interested in this same purpose.

By 2000 we had moved this information building onto the Internet. However, it was during the past 10 years that we’ve mapped the knowledge we collect and share, and have organize one section of the library just focused on collaboration, innovation, knowledge management

This map shows the different types of ideas we point to. This link goes to the actual site and this goes directly into the Links Library.

The map above is one of four major categories of information we collect and share. This map below shows the total range of information we collect and share. This is the actual site.

Because we have put this information on-line in the past decade, and organized it this way, leaders, volunteers and students at the tutor/mentor program I led can use it, and so can anyone else in the world who is concerned about making the work they do to help kids grow from birth to work over a 25 year period.

This is one of the past decade's achievements of the Tutor/Mentor Connection. This Knowledge Network did not exist in 2000 and won’t exist in future years unless we can find donors who want to support this part of our work.

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