Creating the Future is at an exciting jumping off point, to scale the impact of our mission as broadly as possible. And we want YOU to be part of that!
Creating the Future’s mission is to help you change the systems* you encounter every day, through the questions you ask.
So many of the systems we all encounter are rooted in suspicion and reactivity, from human resources in the workplace to the criminal justice system in communities.
Imagine what would be possible if those systems were helping people to be their best selves rather than expecting us to mess up!
During our first few years, Creating the Future was dedicated to proving the power of the Catalytic Thinking framework to guide systems change work. We taught changemakers how to apply Catalytic Thinking to their own work, and we did projects ourselves that would demonstrate the framework in action. (You can see two of those projects here and here, as well as the ongoing demonstration of our board’s systems-changing work here.)
Creating the Future is now ready to scale our impact beyond the few hundred students and limited number of projects our small scale allowed us to tackle.
To help create the humane, healthy, resilient world that is the vision of most progressive change groups, the approaches used by changemakers must be as effective as possible. To that end, Creating the Future’s work will aim at just that – ensuring that the systems used to change the world are as effective as possible.
A big part of that work will take place in the field of capacity building.** Within the social change arena, capacity building efforts have traditionally focused on building strong organizations, with little, if any, focus on teaching what actually creates systems change in the world at large. Our ultimate goal is therefore that the norms in all aspects of social change capacity building reflect and promote the healthy, humane world we want to see. (Details about this goal can be found at this link.)
That is the context for our work this year and beyond. The following is therefore what we aim to have in place by December 31:
Strategy #1: Realign the focus of capacity building influencers (top down): Help thought leaders (foundations, academic institutions) advocate for approaches that align with their desired outcomes.
By January 2021: Be ready to work with stakeholders to co-create an implementable plan for whatever project our research leads us to develop (details at this link). Be ready to crowdfund that project.
The work: Ongoing research and inquiry. Conversations with thought-leaders. Implement our communications strategy.
Strategy #2: Realign the focus of on-the-ground capacity builders (bottom up): Work with nonprofit resource centers, individual academic instructors, consultants, and other capacity builders, to institute approaches that align with desired outcomes.
By January 2021: Be ready to convene capacity builders to co-design a program to transition their “capacity building” focus, using Creating the Future’s educational resources (among others) for their own programs.
The work: Ongoing conversations with capacity builders. Create more easily-shareable educational modules (recorded classes, etc.) to transition from doing our own teaching to supporting other teachers in the capacity building field. Train faculty to teach workshops and webinars, to develop a Catalytic Thinking train-the-trainer program.
Internal Strategy: Our Own Conditions for Success
Stepping into the scale-up stage of our work will mean significant changes in how we operate.
As a typical start-up, Creating the Future’s work to date has been performed by the founders and a small group of committed volunteers, working nonstop for little to no compensation to make stuff happen.
In order to broadly accomplish a huge mission of systems change, we will need infrastructure of all kinds, becoming succession-ready rather than relying on the dedication of a small group of individuals.
Having spent several years in inquiry, research, discussion and design of our organizational structure – as well as determining the role of our board within that structure – we are ready to build the infrastructure that will support our scaled-up work. Therefore, our third strategy is internally focused.
Strategy #3: Infrastructure: Ensure Creating the Future has all internal systems required to scale our impact, transitioning from reliance on volunteers to solid support systems that are not dependent upon any one individual.
By January 2021: Basic organizational support systems (administrative support, IT, research and documentation, etc.) will be in place. Freed from doing day-to-day internal support work, the founders will be able to focus 100% on Strategies #1 and #2 above. Plans will be in place to ensure the build out of the networked platform that will accomplish our mission. All new board systems (bylaws, protocols) will be in place.
The work: A Collective Enoughness campaign to share resources for internal support; small, quiet crowd-funding*** campaign to support those base-level needs.
As you can see, there has been a lot of work to get us to this incredible jumping-off point. We are grateful to everyone who has made this possible, and we look forward to your being part of the future we intend to create.
To get involved in any aspect of our work, contact us directly – or stay abreast of opportunities to connect by subscribing to our eJournal. We look forward to seeing what we can all accomplish together!
* We define “systems” in their simplest form as “just the way we do things.” Whether that is an intricate system of rules and policies, or a cultural norm of what we expect in certain circumstances, those are all systems. For more, head to this link.
** Sometimes called organizational development or organizational effectiveness, “Capacity Building” is not our favorite term, as it suggests there is a lack of capacity to begin with – and that is simply untrue. However, because it is the most commonly used term for this work, we will be using that term until there is a more descriptive term in common parlance.
*** If you are curious about our emphasis on Collective Enoughness and crowd-funding rather than seeking grants or other traditional funding, please see this series of articles.