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Maximizing Impact

"My stars are tucked in my pocket,
ready for battle. If we flood

the streets with salt water, we can
flood the sky with wings."

—Tamiko Beyer

Achieving maximum impact —it's what every social or environmental good organization wants, and can achieve. But why is it so hard? Like dutiful gym (un) enthusiasts running up miles on the treadmill or doing weight repetitions, we work harder and harder at what we know so that we can land heavier and heavier punches. But the answer lies in freeing the creative capacities of individuals, organizations and networks to imagine new possibilities. When liberated from a sense of “this is how things must be,” a new energy does the heavy lifting. It will seek power tools—for example, the deep excavation work of systems design and complexity science, or the resource-multiplying math of networks and alliances. It will also seek fuel—assets such as trust, relationships, and even the tension arising from differences. This kind of work is also hard; in many ways, it is much harder than more straightforward and linear approaches. But it is also joyous, energizing and interesting.

Where to start? There is no one starting point or activity; it differs, depending on the organization. Instead, what might be more useful to assess as a starting place is a mindset of restless, dissatisfaction with the status quo or impatience for change.

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