Because learning to solve problems is more useful than having a right answer

When I was 8 years old I knew all the flags of the world. When I was 16 I knew about Pythagoras theorem and when I was 21 I knew how Nylon was made.

Whilst flags, Pythagoras and Nylon are all interesting to a degree, I’m not sure how genuinely useful any of those topics have really been in my career. I learned about them to pass exams. I crammed the information in order to regurgitate it and get as many questions right as I could. Then I forgot it all. My schools and Universities could tick a box though. If enough of us remembered enough facts it meant they got better ratings which meant more students and more money in subsequent years.

Throughout education I remember being rewarded for getting things right. And I learned this young. At an early age I figured out that asking challenging questions, thinking differently or being a maverick didn’t make me popular with teachers, so over time I stopped.

Then when we start work we are given key performance indicators and objectives. As adults working for an organisation we are measured and judged on how we conform to a set of pre-defined objectives. These are just the grown up versions of getting rewarded for getting things right passing tests, and ticking boxes.

So it’s no wonder that so many organisations struggle to be successful at innovation. Learning to pass exams rather than learning to think for ourselves discourages innovation from an early age, and lets not underestimate the impact that our early years experiences have on our adult behaviour.

Innovation isn’t about confirming to a set of rules or learning about how things have always been done. It’s about thinking differently to solve problems and having the courage to push new boundaries to make change happen. I’m not saying that it’s not important to learn from history and the great discoveries that have gone before us, but if we are not mindful, we may end up focusing on the events of the past and miss the real lessons of the innovators experiences; of questioning the status quo, learning from trial and error and not giving up when others said it was impossible.

And real life lessons that we experience are really important in a world that is changing faster than ever before and will never move so slowly again. It’s unlikely that anyone entering the workforce today will have the same job in ten years time. *One estimate suggests that 65% of children starting primary school today will end up working in jobs that currently don’t even exist.

Last year, a McKinsey & Company study found that about 30% of tasks in 60% of occupations could be computerised and if that wasn’t bad enough, last year, the Bank of England’s chief economist said that 15m UK jobs might be taken over by robots!

Ford, the futurist, offers some optimism with predictions of three job areas that are most likely to survive the robot invasion.

  • Jobs that involve ‘genuine creativity’, such as being an artist, a scientist, or developing a new business strategy.
  • Occupations that involve complex relationships with people, for example, nurses, or a role that requires close relationships with clients.
  • Roles that are highly unpredictable, like a plumber who is called out to emergencies in different locations.

All these jobs involve thinking for ourselves to solve problems. So I’m proposing that we get better at doing this. Let’s take charge and skill ourselves and our teams up with the tools and confidence to think, to ask questions, to solve problems, to understand data and draw conclusions, to challenge convention, to learn from failure and build personal resilience to get back up again and have another go.

This is why I set up the Lucidity Network – a pick and mix of practical resources and connection to a dynamic network to help you get better results. The Lucidity Network is open for new members a few times a year. To find out more and how to join check out this link.  




Why I’m excited about something I’ve never seen

A guest blog by Stephanie Harvey.

More often than not I find I attend a training session and, when it’s good, I leave brimming with ideas and enthusiasm. I’ll make some changes but usually before I know it I’m letting the day-to day get on top of me once again. Same with reading a blog, article or book – I find it hard to keep the learning alive.

In particular I’ve always got a lot out of any workshops or training I’ve done with Lucy. I’ve found her approach clear, inspiring and always loads of fun. She’s got a lot of practical tips from her experience as a fundraiser in both big and small charities and she can empathise with how hard it is for us when we are pulled in lots of different directions. I usually leave thinking I’d love to bottle her up or keep her in my pocket to keep me motivated and maintain good habits.

I hired her to work with my team a while ago. She encouraged us to inspire our supporters by telling our own stories so we ripped up the ‘corporate’ presentation and shared our own experience of why we work in homelessness.  Presenting became much easier, fun and more successful after that. We ‘Made Someone’s Day’ a part of our thanking process – selecting a donor or funder each quarter to single out and show them the difference that their support is making. These small changes lead to us seeing income rise in all areas of fundraising and developing stronger relationships with our donors. And personally I am getting braver at stepping out of my comfort zone. Last year I applied, and we were shortlisted for Best Small Fundraising Charity at the Institute of Fundraising Awards – something I would never even have considered a couple of years ago.  

When I heard Lucy was working on a new project – The Lucidity Network I got quite excited. And then I realised it didn’t even exist yet.

The Lucidity Network will be an online hub with practical tips, webinars and access to a community of other like-minded people. I see it like a combination of Facebook, Open University and Weight Watchers but more fun and less weighing.

For me the Lucidity Network will be a monthly kick up the arse and a toolkit each month means I am more likely to take action. Then there’s the added bonus of having a supportive network alongside me who can hold me to account, bounce ideas off, pick me up when it’s tough and cheer me on along the way. I’ve been to Lucy’s events and I’ve always met really great and interesting people, I never need to scan the room looking for an exit! Now we’ll all be connected through the Network.

The Lucidity Network doesn’t exist yet. It will only get off the ground with a bit of help. That’s why Lucy is crowdfunding for it. Plus she takes her own advice.  She’s been brave and put her idea into the world and as a result she’s been able to get feedback and refine the idea. So it’s actually getting better every day!

Stephanie Harvey is Head of Fundraising at Providence Row.

The Lucidity Network exists! We’ll be recruiting new members soon. Places are limited so if you’re interested in joining the Lucidity Network join the waiting list and you’ll be the first to know when membership is open. Join the Lucidity Network waiting list here. Don’t tell your friends though.

Networking: how the weakest link could be your competitive advantage

Saturday, March 4, 2017

In my experience the people who are the most successful at getting the work done are the ones that get on well with others. When we have good…

‘Crafternoon’: How Mind is crafting its way to fundraising success

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A guest blog by Maria Healy. Over the past few years the race for charities to produce the ‘next big thing’ in terms of a mass participation fundraising…

How to minimise the risk of innovation

Monday, February 13, 2017

Trying something new can be nerve-wracking at the best of times; nobody knows what the outcome will be. But don’t let the risks prevent you from innovating. The…

A fundraising fairytale…

Friday, February 3, 2017

A guest blog by Rachel Hunnybun. Two women walk down a busy street in London, deep in conversation. Amongst the swathes of people, they are approached by an…