Friday, December 02, 2011

What Would Drucker say about "Evidence Based"?

Over the past 15 years there has been a growing movement in philanthropy to document outcomes and to support grant requests and program development with "evidence".

I found this article on the Stanford Social Innovation Review today titled "Why Peter Drucker Distrusted Facts"

At the same time I've been following a few blogs on Innovation around the topic "Innovation is Messy". Here are a few that you can find on a Google Search

Innovation is Messy - "Innovation isn’t a race. First isn’t always best. Use the tools that are available right now and build on the work of others as necessary to improve incrementally."

Innovation Will Always Have Messy Parts: Wisdom from IDEO's David Kelley and 3M's Bill Coyne - "... one element of the process is tougher for many people to accept than the rest -- that it is a messy and uncertain process and efforts to make the early messy stages more rational, safer, and generally neat and clean comforting get in the way of the process."

Spaghetti & Social Innovation: What should stick?"the emerging field of social innovation is like being in a kitchen where the recipe for social innovation is still uncertain and perhaps always will be. While there is definitely a case for articulating core ingredients (e.g., novel solutions that tackle social problems in ways that significantly shift the way the social problems are understood and managed), a wonderful part of social innovation is the openness to variety in how that might be approached and organized."

These are just a few of the articles that I've looked at on this topic. I'm interested in this because my vision of volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring requires the involvement of volunteers from beyond poverty along with youth and families living in poverty who are constantly looking for better ways to build youth career aspirations and learning habits along with a network of adults who can help youth in high poverty neighborhoods move through school and into careers where they fulfill those aspirations.

I don't think anyone has a magic solution yet, or a pill you can give any kid and turn them into a motivated, disciplined learner. Kids in poverty have a lot more external distractions and a lot fewer family and community role models to show them jobs and careers they might aspire to and get them there.

Thus, we're in a process of innovation and we need a lot more people involved. I created this "Operating Principles" pdf many years ago to show how we want to engage everyone in a tutor/mentor program in this learning process.

In a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program the volunteer is in direct contact with the youth so the volunteer must be involved in this innovation. However, volunteers don't come to this work with 35 years of experience that I now have. So that means the staff who coach this process need to be passionate about learning and innovation and need to lead and coach youth and volunteers to grow into this role.

But I don't know of a university teaching this skill and I've never had staff people come to me already "hard wired" with these innovation habits. And due to funding and the work/stress of being employed in a poorly funded non profit, we can't keep young people involved for 10-15 years so they become experienced, visionary older people!

How do we innovate solutions to this problem so such leaders are in thousands of locations? That's the innovation and process the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC is focusing on.

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