Increase innovation: mandate three day weekends

Despite our incredibly full work schedules, Jon and I actually spent a weekend away from work. The weather was just gorgeous, sunny and warm, and even the downpour Saturday night couldn’t spoil our much needed respite.

I finally pulled those weeds and planted the last of the veggies and annuals I’ve been staring at for the last week. I accomplished my first bike trek over 25 miles this spring on the East Bay Bike  Path — I finished 30 and even had a few more miles in me, really I did, but those two flat tires within minutes ended the trip for me. Thanks to instant service from Legend Bicycle,  a mere $11.60 for a new tube,  rim tape and installation and I’m back in the saddle.)

Throughout the weekend I’ve been using some of my leisure time to catch up on the stack of magazines and newsletters piling up at home and in the office. And in doing so I’ve been reminded why it is so critical to take time out from the work. What applicable gems of information I’ve been missing!

The Spring/Summer magazine, Land & People, of the Trust for Public Land led with a fascinating story about an innovative collaboration among five conservation groups inspired by two of their donors. The groups have come together as the Northern Sierra Partnership to share “strategy, leadership —  and most unusually donors and funding — to prioritize and execute conservation projects across a five-million-acre swath mountains.”

I’m always on the lookout for examples of great collaborations, with a special eye for fundraising partnerships.  These groups believe that by working together they will raise more money than any of them could on their own — in this case, $100 million to leverage $300 million additional dollars in public funding to protect 100 million acres. They seem to have overcome the inevitable question of how to distribute funds jointly raised by assigning value to each parcel and flowing funding to top priorities.

The newsletter also reminded me that TPL is masterful in developing funding strategies — giving me some new ideas for a business & funding plan I’m working on for one of our clients.

The June 2010 issue of Fast Company is just chock full of inspiration. It’s their Special Issue “The 100 Most Creative People.” I’ve been drooling over the list, and couldn’t help thinking that maybe I should have committed to more than 2 weeks as a math major back in college. (I wiped out 2nd semester of Calculus 2 freshman year. Geography called me instead. A great major, really, it’s where I learned systems thinking.)

I’ve been especially mulling over the implications for the way nonprofits do business from a quote from‘s 26 year-old Product Lead Soraya Darabi: “I get my information from my peers.” (By the way, after struggling for days to get Google Docs to share documents as promised with 149 conference goers, Jon suggested which was a piece of cake to use.)

Juxtapose Ms Darabi’s insight on social media with the growing popularity of a crowd sourcing approach to charitable giving ( also discussed in this issue in the profile of Kimberly Davis, President of JPMorgan Chase Foundation), and I think we’ve all got some incredibly serious thinking to do about how we relate to and educate future donors about our charities.

As someone who never won a high school popularity contest, I feel the pain of the corner duster nonprofits doing vital but not so flashy work. But we ignore promotion in the digital landscape at our peril. Just a troll through these pages makes that perfectly clear.

And I haven’t even had a chance to crack open the latest Wired yet.

Maybe the innovation factor in US enterprises would increase dramatically if we had mandatory three-day weekends every week.

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