3 strategic ideas for investing in your NGO’s innovation

Kickstarting the year for Bond’s Futures and Innovation Group “real world innovation” meeting series, James Whitehead, Oxfam’s global innovation adviser, held a fantastic session on business model innovation at Oxfam GB last week.

Breaking the mould of secrecy and competitive thinking among INGOs, James used the session to share Oxfam’s exciting challenge for the next two years. The organisation is making a strategic investment to ensure it is fit for purpose, responds to a changing environment and ensures future impact by exploring business model innovation. While James and colleagues already have a host of ideas, he opened this challenge out to the floor and shared what Oxfam has to play with.

The question to the group was: “If you had the resources and you were me, what would you do next?” The expected outcome was not primarily new ideas of business model innovation, but how to go about it.

It was an interesting experiment to see fellow charities, of all sizes and disciplines, bring their thoughts, challenges and builds to the table.

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Participants also chose where they would invest when faced with a table full of strategic and tactical ideas. I’m not going to say we solved the problem in one afternoon, but we definitely felt there were exciting choices as to what to invest in.

Our top 3 most invested-in ideas

  1. Train local entrepreneurs to deliver existing Oxfam services and provide them with ongoing technical support
  2. Establish a global impact dashboard that local organisations can use to easily report on their work, allowing Oxfam and others to effectively deploy resources in each impact area
  3. Operate (possibly under licence) a local development bank in post-disaster areas to bring all cash transfers under one roof

James, very kindly, volunteered to share the journey he will be going on with the people that attended. Needless to say, we are all intrigued and can’t wait to see what happens next.

Our key take-away:

“Problems cannot be solved with the same mindset that created them.” (Albert Einstein) – getting some friendly second opinions helps!

Watch out for news of the next Futures and Innovation group event on MyBond and come join us to share ideas, experiences and laughter.

Learn more about reinventing your business model at the Bond Conference on 21 March.