by Richard Harwood
January 14, 2014
One of the key obstacles in bringing about change in communities is that many organizations, leaders and networks (among other factors) need to beef up their capacities to help create change. Oftentimes the response to this challenge is to do "capacity building" -- when it's "innovation readiness" that's needed most.
I make this distinction thinking about the scores of local United Ways, public libraries, public radio and television stations I've worked with and their own challenges in bringing about change. Or the countless number of conversations I've had with foundation presidents and program officers about their frustrations that more community change is not being produced as a result of their funding. And it's the numerous meetings I've had with leaders of faith-based institutions and organizations that worry about their very relevance.
It's not that capacity building isn't necessary. My own organization has spent the last year strengthening its internal operations, board of directors and financial systems. Without this strength, it's hard to move forward, and it's impossible to sustain good efforts. Moreover, we all recognize that it is critical for individual leaders to develop new skill sets to run meetings better, improve planning and learn to engage in an increasingly diverse world.