One of my most amusing, humbling yet empowering experiences at the Acumen global gathering was that every single professional or personal crises that I've experienced seemed to be a textbook case. I described in detail what I thought was a particularly twisted team dynamic issue to Barbara Grant, CEO Crux Consulting, expecting a lot of sympathy and compassion, only to have her exclaim in joy - "Oh, that is my favourite kind of problem!". Here is a summary of some session insights I plan to revisit multiple times for the rest of my career:
"Impact work is a long term career. If you really want to change the world, you need to work in a 50-year context, possibly even longer."
"Failure allows us to both learn and iterate. And what stops us from seeing this is the pressure of urgency that we put on ourselves - the pressure that tells us to 'either do it yesterday, or run away'. We need to be urgent, but we also need be patient. Just like we need to be both humble and proud."
"The one who knows his WHY can endure any HOW."
- From Maryam Mohiuddin (Founder, Social Innovations Lab) and Mina Shahid's (Co-founder, Numida Technologies) session on "Befriending failure in your lifelong commitment to social change"
"Understand that everything that you find painfully annoying about the 'difficult people' you work with is like a two-sided hook - the other party is as hooked as you are, and nothing useful can happen until you get this hook out"
"First, unhook if you can, or choose to be strategic if you can't. Second, be as curious as you can be, and really seek to understand. Third, establish trust. Fourth, allow for grace and prioritize the future"
- From Barbara Grant's session which had the absolutely irresistible title "Unlikely Allies: When you need to work with people with different values, roles, priorities"
"Start-ups need to be based in autonomy, scale needs to be based in structure. So when start-ups move to scale, processes and people need to move from autonomy to structure. This typically creates a lot of tension."
"Leaders in the impact space need to spend about 20% of their time in coaching and mentoring their team"
"The biggest cause of failure in early stage organizations is a badly defined value proposition and mission statement. For organisations in series B funding stage, the biggest causes of failure are the people - leadership and team."
- Justus Kilian, Post investment manager, Acumen, in a discussion on taking organizations to scale
"Rarely can a response make a crises situation better. What makes things better is human connection"
"It IS possible to express non-resonating feedback without being judgmental. It just needs courage, authenticity, and a little practice."
- Prerak Mehta and Neel Shah's session on Empathy