Monday, June 28, 2010

Build A Hive

What if you gathered the best brainpower for your nonprofits success?

In recent weeks, we’ve all heard hundreds of news reports about BP’s response to the Gulf Crisis. One set of reports has particular interest to nonprofit organizations. These contain information about how BP created The Hive as its “Apollo 13 Brain Center”. Do you have a challenge you want to tackle? What if you created a Hive to collect the best thinking about your nonprofit and your challenge? Here is how to build one based on the reports.

  • Set aside a creative, thinking space. The Hive is a repurposed research center and “houses a dozen video screens…” You need space where a group can work undisturbed. Make it large enough so everyone can be seated comfortably and see each other. Add computers with Internet access so information can be gathered and checked on the spot. Include space for ideas to be captured, posted and viewed by all with easel pads or white boards.

  • Best minds. Gather the best minds to talk about what your organization might do to respond to the challenge. Who might you invite to your Hive? Consider board members, former board members, staff of local foundations and civic leaders.

Hundreds of engineers from universities, rival oil companies and the federal government immediately went back to work, in shifts lasting 13 hours or more.

  • Dream team. Okay, you drafted a list of the best minds. Now, imagine who would be on your dream team. How about leaders in the community known for their creative approaches, even if they now do little in the nonprofit world? Academics? How about a leader from a foundation that specializes in your work from across the county? These team members may not be available, but unless you ask them, you will never know.

Then came the "dream team" that President Barack Obama had ordered his Nobel-winning energy secretary, Steven Chu, to assemble: out-of-the-box thinkers including a nuclear physicist, a pioneer on Mars drilling techniques, an MIT professor whose research interests include "going faster on my snowboard," an expert on the hydrogen bomb, and a controversial astrophysicist…

As a Gulf resident agonizing over the oil spill despoiling our beautiful gulf, I remain hopeful that soon the leak will be plugged so that full recovery can begin. One good thing to come of out this disaster is that nonprofits can also learn how to build hives to call forth and capture great thinking to solve their challenges.

For some Hive tools, see How to Be More Successful With Your Brainstorming and see this article on building trust.

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