Certain phrases make me cringe. For example: “now more than ever,” and “the world’s most pressing challenges,” invoke instant consternation. They are, of course, almost always hyperbole. Accurate language and perception is important to the social and environmental innovation work to which I’m committed. A portion of the challenge is to see the context and barriers clearly. A lack of urgency is often exactly what we strive to address! Also, as I witnessed at the day-long launch event of the new Elevated Chicago initiative earlier this week, what is “most pressing” largely depends on one's perspective. Different community groups, nonprofits and foundations expressed equally valid concerns that were sometimes divergent, yet of significant importance to them. Doing this kind of innovation work on complex challenges requires maintaining a healthy balance between ego and humility. Sustaining a view that neither over-inflates nor underestimates the significance of Foresight’s various projects is important to navigating this tension, and also sometimes to managing the stress. Whether complex and ambitious, or more modest in scope, they all matter, both to those involved, and to us, as we strive to learn to do this work better. Now more than ever, of course.
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