The GuideStar Blog retired September 9, 2019. We invite you to visit its replacement, the Candid Blog. You’re also welcome to browse or search the GuideStar Blog archives. Onward!

GuideStar Blog

12 Big Ideas for 2012

The following is a guest cross-post by Brian Reich, SVP Global editor for Edelman Digital. If you are interested in submitting a blog, please send your name, contact information, and a sentence or two about the content of the post to Be sure to include how your topic can help advance the philanthropic sector, and help nonprofits do their work better.

Brian Reich

Each one of us has the ability to transform the way the world thinks about critically important issues. Inspired by the concepts outlined in my new book, Shift & Reset: Strategies for Addressing Serious Issues In A Connected Society, these twelve big ideas are designed to make you think–differently. A new year provides a new opportunity to shift our attention and reset our way of operating. These are some big ideas to help us get started:

1) Think Bigger, Act Smarter. Doing this will elevate the work that is needed to address serious issues to a place where it influences how we think, act, and perceive. We must consider all the possible ways to address an issue, creating from scratch the things necessary to complete our missions. We have all the tools needed–we simply need to apply our intelligence in better ways.

2) Get Your Focus Back. Stop what isn’t working–it’ll give you the resources to explore what’s possible. If you want to change the world, you need a clear understanding of what you want to achieve. Adopt new and different approaches to solving the issue you’re addressing. This can’t happen if you don’t find–and keep–your focus on the task at hand.

3) Build A Better Effort. Assemble the best from every arena of your organization. This super team will accomplish its own goals, but create opportunities for every audience they collaborate with by engineering their strategic focus to take advantage of important opportunities they’re given.

4) Show Your Stripes. You are an expert in something, so demonstrate it. People become experts as a result of their membership in a community of practice–a group or partnership around a specific issue or service. Use your expertise to make a difference.

5) Become The Media. With myriad channels available today, you have great potential to generate discussion about your idea or advance your issue. Take a systematic approach to making information available. Your content – whether focused on awareness, education, engagement or mobilization– should adapt to any platform or situation, and serve everyone’s interests.

6) Write the Future. With the flourishing of ideas comes responsibility–we must embrace how new ideas impact our work, perspectives, and behaviors. We must create our own opportunities to act and participate in the world, becoming part of something larger and more likely to succeed.

7) Be Social. If we want to solve societal problems, we need a dramatically different structure for the efforts we undertake. We need to stop focusing on the tools and start being truly social.

8) Little Things Matter. There are legitimate reasons why people want to see serious issues addressed–what are they? You must know your audience if you hope to reach them. You must always understand what is happening in the world if you want to create something that people will promote or share. You must watch, understand, and then adapt what you are doing to meet your audience’s needs.

9) Take On the Hard Stuff. The crisis of inaction, poor management, and lack of focus invites an opportunity to re-prioritize, and reconsider the ways we address serious issues. Have no fear of failure–instead bring others together in new, innovative ways. The world needs people to start right now, without delay or hesitation, and take on the really hard stuff.

10) Finish Something. Achieve your mission. Put yourself out of business. When you want to launch something new, consider the possibility that your contribution could come in the form of helping something else succeed, instead of bolstering your own credentials.

11) Fail Fast & Fall Forward. Push the envelope so far ahead that you’re failing, learning, and taking your supporters with you. Innovation almost never pays off immediately. Change is painful and slow, sometimes messy, and always exhausting. The benefits, however, far outweigh the sacrifices.

12) Pay Attention. We’re trapped in a continually repeating cycle of synthesizing, never allowing ourselves to create the intellectual or emotional connections necessary to fuel our efforts to find real solutions. Read, watch, listen — then start to make sense of things, and finally adapt what you’re doing to respond to a particular issue.

I shared these ideas to start a conversation. I want you to feel excited about the new opportunities that are available to us, individually and collectively, and frustrated that we haven’t made more progress. Now…get to work! And let me know how it goes: email

To download the full version:

Topics: Impact