It’s that time of year- in the euphoria of flipping over the calendar, we made new year’s resolutions. The excitement of yearly planning has us all in a tizzy: FSG’s annual retreat is this week, world leaders (and some of our staff) convene for the World Economic Forum, and clients launch new projects aspiring to build on the successes and fix the challenges leftover from last year. I’ve got big hopes for us the coming year myself- to stabilize a world economy, fix climate change, curb population to name a few. These big dreams are what motivate me every day, and what makes our work at FSG particularly fun – we touch so many of these issues with our clients and through our grant-funded research.
But to do it with less resources and competition from other priorities- are we just dreaming? For a dose of reality, I read the latest World Economic Forum global risk report for 2012, which lists “Centers of Gravity” as the greatest perceived risks in five categories.
The five 2012 risks identified by world experts start off with, not surprisingly, economic risk:
Chronic fiscal imbalances (economic)
Greenhouse gas emissions (environmental)
Global governance failure (geopolitical)
Unsustainable population growth (societal)
Critical systems failure (technological)
For those who enjoy exploring the haunting data on global risk – there are visualizations of risk to explore interconnectedness and expected impact across the globe. The hurdles to addressing these risks are daunting.
What keeps me going is not the overwhelming challenges posed by these risks, but the quiver of sharp arrows we have crafted together in the past few years to address these risks. Late last year, on panels at GBC Health and UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, I was struck by how much of the dialogue about solving social problems was being framed in terms that FSG has helped to define. And it is not terms that we’ve coined that I’m impressed with - it’s the fact that we’re effectively equipping the field with the tools to plan and execute against issues that are easily chalked up as overwhelming – especially things that start with the word “chronic.” Shared value, collective impact, catalytic philanthropy, aligning strategy and evaluation, mission investing, these are just a few of the tools that FSG has helped to elevate to the global stage.
Now as we face 2012, I am proud that teams at FSG are forming to address many of the nodes of the risk map that WEF has created. I hope you’ll share back with us on this blog how you are achieving your 2012 resolutions - and what you learn as you turn those big dreams into practice.