Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Mission Capital: Mission Driven event here in Austin. First and foremost, I’m encouraged to see the direction they are taking their organization – with their re-branding from Greenlights to Mission Capital they are helping fuel the social innovation space in Austin and Texas more broadly. Something much needed, for both social entrepreneurs and nonprofits alike.
One of the sessions that really stood out for me was a panel hosted by Echoing Green’s Cheryl Dorsey. She focused on some of the principles behind how they identify entrepreneurs for their fellowship program. However I think that these principles stand true for any organization, big or small. Cheryl said that innovation is about encouraging failure. We’ve all see that so often in organizations the culture is the opposite, where employees are so afraid to fail that they don’t take risks. That’s so unfortunate, since risk-taking is where much of the real innovation takes place. Even as we begin to grow our team at 121Giving, we have to push ourselves to keep that culture of risk-taking and question asking. She said,
Dispense with shaming the people who ask why. Those are the people who disrupt and bring innovation.
If we, the self-professed entrepreneurs, create our businesses out of curiosity, out of discontent with the status quo – then we need to hang on to that mentality and encourage it inside our organizations, long after the startup days are over.