If you are like me, there is a certain amount of depression that comes after the holiday season – its back to life as usual. What I miss most is the heightened focus on giving to others. This year I am happy to say that was not the case, as this marks my first new year with FSG. At FSG the focus on giving exists 365 days a year, and to my own personal delight in a way that surrounds me in the source of my passion – Knowledge Management. I am not only talking about my role as the Director of Knowledge Management at FSG – but the practice of FSG itself: we wallow in Knowledge Management.
That may seem like a strange statement to one that has not straddled the worlds of Knowledge Management and social problem solving, but to one who has, the overlap is significant – especially in the way FSG operates.
First consider the definition of Knowledge Management: “leveraging collective know how and experience to increase responsiveness and innovation.” Furthermore, as I have written about before Knowledge Management is a multi-faceted practice, that often manifests in subtle yet pervasive ways. It is tightly intertwined with practices such as community development, collaboration, innovation and creative problem solving. These are all issues fundamental to the core of FSG’s work.
In the recently published article by John Kania and Mark Kramer, “Collective Impact,” Kania and Kramer define a new approach to large scale social change, an approach founded in basic tenets of Knowledge Management including collaboration, team management and developing trust, social networks, shared measurement, information sharing, shared vision (referred to in the article as common agenda), and crowdsourcing (referred to in the article as collective impact).
In a recent blog post, Andrew Wolk cites the "Collective Impact" article as illustration of the advancements being made in social innovation. I have to smile when I read that phrase. By its very definition Knowledge Management is about innovation, and as Wolk points out, this new direction in philanthropy is all about INNOVATION. It is not just about solving the problem but in thinking creatively to solve it better.
In its essence, FSG is really an innovation firm; part think tank – developing new ideas and approaches – and part consulting firm, integrating new solutions into the thinking and programs of its clients.
In our work with foundations, corporations, nonprofits, and governmental organizations, we deploy approaches, such as collective impact, in collaboration with forward-thinking clients trying to not only “make a difference” but understand how they make that difference, and increase the impact of their efforts.
Most importantly, as we do this work, we evolve. As managing Director Greg Hills recently opined, “We glean immense learning from that (consulting) process. Our ideas on how to identify and pursue collective impact opportunities are still evolving.” Indeed, as is the case with any knowledge-driven organization, we are always learning.
Our work is not about coming up with an answer, but to “leverage collective know how and experience to increase innovation and responsiveness” – and effectiveness, or as it is stated on the back of our business cards “discovering better ways to solve social problems.”