Marianne Henkel

18 April, 2017

Do you like outdoor shops? I do. When setting out to get equipped for a trip, I can take hours marvelling at all those gadgets. And by the time I head toward the checkout counter, I have thought through all possible challenges and surprises I may encounter on my travels and their likelihood, and prioritised what to put in my basket (alright, except where fads and good marketing get the better of me … ).

09_ResponsiveSimilarly, Horizon Scanning and innovation together are a survival kit for agents of change in an age of change. The four contributions in this series have done a great job of pinpointing and structuring the different dimensions of the nexus between Horizon Scanning and innovation, leaving to me only to flesh out some key insights that emerge from their synopsis.  The key message in which they all concur is that:

Horizon Scanning and innovation enable us to deliver on our missions in a changing environment – all the more if they are well-linked. Given today’s urgent priorities, Horizon Scanning (and innovation) can easily be perceived as of second-order importance, anything between nuisance and luxury. However, both are about securing impact and relevance (Gnärig), about being able to fulfil your mission when the world – for which your organisation and strategy were built – changes fundamentally; About the challenge of hitting a moving target. Or, as Roberts puts it, Scanning and innovation are “fundamentally about purpose and intent”, in that they serve to reassert one’s agency instead of “simply responding to change with what seems appropriate at the time”. Le Goulven and Kaplan provide several instructive examples of how Horizon Scanning has “made the needle move” and led UNICEF to innovation – taking new approaches in response to new opportunities and challenges, opening new avenues to impact. MORE

Lars Gustavsson

30 August, 2016

We need a new type of civil society organisation (CSO), one that is free of the constraints, mindsets, limitations and compromise of today’s norm. The prevalent ‘charity/aid’ model is clearly creaking; it’s failing both to capture the imagination of the emerging generations, and to enable sustainable transformation for people in poverty. The co-dependency between donor and aid organisation stifles innovation and creativity. Yet, we’ll never ignite the new from within the old; we need to start over with a clean slate.

Architects and entrepreneurs must convene to frame the new: naming, connecting, nourishing, and illuminating the required elements of the ‘beyond aid’ CSO. We’re fairly sure we know what some of the ingredients are: market-based mechanisms; long term capital; donors becoming investors; voices of the poor in the driving seat; disciplined and transparent intermediation spending; and real impact measurement that has meaning to front-line communities and investors alike. Other ingredients are still to be uncovered.[1] MORE

Burkhard Gnärig

19 July, 2016

Disruption is happening all around us: Leading at times of disruptionthe recent arrival of over one million refugees in Europe; the dramatic cuts in some of the most generous donors’ aid budgets; and the fact that each of the last twelve months has been the hottest on record globally. These are just some of the most obvious examples. When disruptions like these occur, civil society organisations (CSOs) are nearly always affected. The International Civil Society Centre tries to support CSOs with:

  1. spotting disruption early so that they have enough time to come to terms with expected changes;
  2. preparing themselves for disruption, strengthening their adaptability and resilience;
  3. managing disruption once it strikes.

In the best case we will spot disruption early, be well prepared, and thus increase our chances to navigate disruption successfully. Let’s briefly look at the leadership challenges these three aspects – or you could also say “phases” – of disruption entail. MORE

Lauren Woodman

14 June, 2016

INGO_CroppedThe current blog theme is Digital Accountability, and our guest authors – digital experts from within the civil society sector – recently took part in a four-day CSO Accountability in the Digital Age workshop, facilitated by the INGO Accountability Charter.

Here they share the issues explored and outcomes established during this hands-on event. Today’s blog is the first in a series of five.

Digital_Accountability


In the not-too-distant past, concerned people who wanted to enact change had to work a lot harder to get involved: They had to find a civil society organisation (CSO) and go to meetings – in person! – and volunteer for committees or working groups. They might mail in a cheque and hope it was used to fund their initiative of choice. To reach others, they might canvas a neighborhood, petition in hand, knocking on doors and collecting signatures.

These types of actions are still valuable, to be sure. But thanks to the internet, the barrier of entry for activism is much, much lower. Online tools have created opportunities for an ever-increasing number of people to get involved in issues that matter to them. This can mean signing an online petition and sharing it on Facebook, starting a grassroots campaign on 350.org, or taking a local action to support the work of a global organisation. CSOs see the value in leveraging digital tools to connect people with information and action – not only can they mobilise and engage constituents more easily, they can benefit from the expertise and knowledge of millions of individuals. MORE

Burkhard Gnärig

22 March, 2016

A few months ago I wrote the blog We Need to Defend Citizens’ Space for Participation in which I looked at India and other countries where civil society was under threat. Since then, no day has gone by without news about government actions restricting citizens’ space to participate in shaping and developing their own societies. Meanwhile, a number of deeply worrying developments have become blatantly obvious:

  • Shrinking civic space is a global 25phenomenon. Citizens on all continents, in developing and developed societies, are suffering from the curtailing of their rights. Recent political initiatives in countries such as Hungary, Poland and the UK show that no society can be certain to escape this trend.
  • Governments are learning from each other how best to keep “their” citizens under control – rather than being controlled by citizens as should be the case. For instance, the Russian strategy to oppress any civic dissent to the government’s policies has been, and is being, copied in many countries globally.
  • In a world of mounting competition for dwindling natural resources, persisting terrorism, and a rising number of refugees crossing national borders, more and more citizens are willing to accept restrictions to their rights as a price for securing their own safety and wellbeing. They follow their governments’ arguments that limitations to citizens’ rights – e.g. to free speech, peaceful assembly, political participation – are necessary to preserve political stability, maintain economic growth, control terrorism, secure national sovereignty, and keep foreigners out.
  • Centuries of experience with authoritarian regimes have shown that once citizens have lost any rights over their governments, it will take a long time of painful struggle to claim them back. Therefore, the large scale disempowerment of citizens world-wide is a scary development, which requires a concerted approach of all who are willing to defend civic rights.

MORE

Adriano Campolina

1 March, 2016

ActionAid International went through a tremendous transformation through what was called its internationalisation. It moved from being a British charity with branches in several countries, to a an alliance of few European members and now to a federation of 27 national members across all regions encompassing countries as diverse as Vietnam, Denmark, Sierra Leone, Malawi and Guatemala.

This new federation would be serviced by an Visioninternational secretariat, with the roles of coordinating international work, ensuring compliance with federation wide policies and supporting countries directly or by enabling peer support as well as managing the programmes in those countries that had not yet gone through a local governance development process. MORE

John Bines

12 January, 2016

Once upon a time, in the north west, lived Arrogance. One day Arrogance met Greed. Perfectly compatible, they soon conceived and Colonialism was born.  Colonialism was strong and became very powerful. However, Colonialism did much damage to others and ultimately faded away to great happiness.

Arrogance blamed Greed for Colonialism’s wrong-doings and ended the relationship. However Arrogance was still fit and well and took another lover – Benevolence. Arrogance and Benevolence were not well suited; they were virtually incompatible. Despite this they too had a child called Development.

Development’s upbringing was difficult; torn by the conflicting demands of its parents. Because of this, Development struggled to build sustainable relationships and had a number of fleeting romances. As a result of one of these, Ingo [1] was born. Later and after an awkward courtship, Development settled down with Globalisation and, soon after, Collaboration was born.

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Burkhard Gnärig

5 January, 2016

I am sure that the conversation below is not happening in any of the international civil society organisations (ICSOs) we are working with. Nobody aims to “decline into obsolescence”.
However, “risking anything new” doesn’t look like an obvious choice of our sector either. Still, I believe that this is really the choice we have: either risk innovation or slowly fade away. So, why not make 2016 the year of exciting innovation, the year of prudent risk taking, the year in which transformative change takes hold in your organisation?Cartoon_Blog_Social_Media

Here are three courageous ideas which may help you start the transformation in your organisation: MORE

Burkhard Gnärig

22 December, 2015

For the last five years, 2015 has held a special place on international civil society organisations’ (ICSOs) agenda. The development and climate communities have both worked key strategic trends of 2015 scribingtowards the UN meetings in New York and Paris where the global agenda for the coming decades would be set. But while we were preparing for these crucial events, the world hadn’t stopped moving – on the contrary, it went on changing at an ever faster pace. Here are the key strategic trends of 2015 as I see them:

1. The absence of effective global governance (and government) is becoming more painful by the day

Two major trends are causing increasing pain: Climate change and migration. MORE

Alexia Skok

17 November, 2015

Technological, political and planetary disruptions are threats to ICSOs’ existence. At the same time they entail brilliant opportunities to deliver our mission. We have to welcome change in order to reap these opportunities – Be the Change.

Throughout the past year, the International Civil Society Centre undertook an exciting and enriching project that brought together a group of civil society leaders and experts to explore the cultural organisational change that international civil society organisations (ICSOs) must undertake to adapt to disruption; The Building an Organisational Culture of Change working group was born. MORE