What Happens When No One Needs to Own an answer?
IDEO.org Fellow Sarah Lidgus and her team begin interviewing experts in the field of youth employment, and come to realize that information-sharing works a bit differently in the social sector.
Our team's first IDEO.org" target="_blank">IDEO.org project is to uncover strategic opportunities for the Rockefeller Foundation around the issue of youth employment, so we wanted to speak with some international experts who work with youth in education (in its many forms) as well as employment. Our goal was to locate, schedule, and hold twenty interviews in two weeks. While twenty sounded ideal, we were totally new to this field and this issue; twenty also sounded impossible to me.
Not to delve too deeply into my psyche while writing my first-ever story for IDEO.org, but upon reflection I believe that my skepticism was a byproduct of time spent in the corporate world, where life can look and feel like one giant nondisclosure agreement: research is proprietary, projects are secret, clients are clandestine. And landing an expert interview can mean talking with the assistant to the assistant of that someone's very busy handler. In my experience, landing twenty of these things seemed like a faraway feat. Three days later, however, we had SIX interviews. A day after that, NINE. And as of today, we're on track for all TWENTY!
As someone new to the social sector, it's been incredible to experience not only how aware and connected this network is, but how generous. Because these experts have been willing to share their time, their thoughts, and their work with us, our team has been able to hit the ground running. We've been freed up to think about content rather than being bogged down by logistics (We're reserving that for our trips to Kenya and India in two weeks...). It's been exciting to share ideas rather than hold them close. That's been a striking contrast to me from a lot of corporate work: when no one needs to own an answer, we can all contribute to the solution.
I'm sure I am as naive as I sound about all of this, but for the moment I'm fine with that. No one has ever accused me of being an optimist, but it looks like I'll be trying that feeling out now. I'm excited about both the possibilities of IDEO.org and feeling good about the coming year. And as of right now, thanks to a bunch of smart, hard-working people who are taking the time to talk with us, we're ready to Rockefeller!