There are many reasons why we need innovation. But now, compared to ten or fifteen years ago, there are many more support structures in place that can be used for innovation. Therefor THIS is the time for NGOs to start innovating. This was one of the key points of innovation and strategy consultant Ian Gray (BOND UK) during his speech at The Spindle Fast Forward, May 18 at Spring House in Amsterdam.
There are many more support structures in place that can be used for innovation.
Around sixty people with all kinds of backgrounds joined The Spindle for an afternoon focused on innovation for sustainable development. Sixty people, who were drawn out of their daily work, to spend a whole afternoon talking about innovation, its barriers and its opportunities. The Spindle searched and found people who are enthusiastic, creative and have a talent for bringing in new ideas. Key note speaker on The Spindle Fast Forward was Ian Gray, who has years of experience guiding British development NGOs to innovate.
After Gray’s keynote speech participants continued discussions in small groups, warmed up by trend talks delivered by NGO experts on the four thematic areas of The Spindle (inclusion, use of data, civic power and new ways of working together). There were focus groups to generate ideas, workshops on the processes of innovation and a dialogue walk for reflection. A participant said: “It feels like as if I am getting little stings throughout the day that wake me up.”
The ecosystem for innovation
In the keynote speech Ian Gray encouraged the NGOs in the room to collaborate with each other and draw on the support that is growing in the ecosystem around international development. Gray says that in the UK that support structure has been growing for a while now, encouraged by BOND UK (the British ‘Partos’). Also DFID (the British ‘DGIS’ of the MFA) has been really involved and funded a lot of innovative programmes. Gray: “I don’t know the Dutch context very well, but having a programme like The Spindle’s running over the Summer is a really useful thing for NGOs to engage with, to test out ideas and prototype them in a way that will give them an opportunity to get flying.”
Open to new ideas
In the workshops people were stimulated to think creatively about the use of existing tools and techniques, and use them in a way it was not intentionally created for. The same goes for coalitions that NGOs could form, with unusual partners. Openness to ideas of others and willingness to share or let go of your own are important prerequisites for innovation. That is the atmosphere The Spindle was striving for. As one of the participants reflected: “I am surprised that everybody is this open today to share their ideas. There is no suspicion that someone will run off with your idea.”
The Spindle Summer Labs
To further build on this vibe for innovation The Spindle organizes Summer Labs at the Spring House in Amsterdam: five Fridays during which you bring your idea to a prototype, by actively engaging in design thinking as a process for problem-solving. So sign up with your idea, and who knows... maybe we’ll meet (again) this summer!
Presentations of the speakers are available upon request. Pictures by Roos Trommelen. The Spindle Fast Forward. May 18, 2017, Spring House Amsterdam.