Often times, individuals come to me to gain feedback on their new ideas. Always excited and intrigued to hear an innovative spirit, I listen intently. Once I have an understanding of their concept, I often ask first, “Is anyone doing this already?” The question is not intended to burst their bubble. Instead, the question creates awareness for what has already been done.
Sometimes, I take it one step further if there is already a similar offering in the market place and ask, “Have you contacted them?” The facial expressions I receive are usually ones of surprise. The answers I hear most often are ones fraught with ego. Most popular response is an expression of fear of competition. “What if they take MY idea?” they confess.
The truth is, your idea is always your idea. It just also might happen to be someone else’s idea too.
So I pose the question, why reinvent the wheel? Perhaps there is a way to collaborate, not compete. Perhaps there is a way to be farther along in your own journey because someone has been there before you. Perhaps take the best of the intention, vision and expertise to complement all aspects of the idea to reach your target in a bigger, unified voice. Imagine the ripple effect when two people with a similar vision are making waves together rather than spending energy opposing one another.
My best observation has been to replicate without ego. The reality of building and growing an organization takes one person to have a vision and a village of ambassadors who share that vision to bring it to fruition. Sometimes coming along side one another allows the idea to grow bigger, farther and even faster.
Your fellow RippleMaker,
It is pretty much expected that if we are going to say yes to rolling out a new program idea, we must have a plan in place. Of course, we need to know the people it will take to make it happen and their roles – taking into account tasks and related expertise. We need to figure out program materials and related presenters. We navigate through identifying the audience and how to target them. We establish the steps, not only until implementation, but through it as well. A lot of line item budgeting takes place. And most oftentimes, everyone is asking their circles of friends and advisors for the justification why the program should take place and what the expected outcomes might be when complete.
What if you just do the program because you think it is the right thing to do? Take those in the small circle of passionate contributors and give them any role they want to be able to participate. If they don’t know how to contribute, they will learn. Ask them who they know that they can reach out to on short notice to deliver programs and materials to the public. Just put the new program idea out there to your collective audiences. Let them know that something big is going to take place for a limited number of select individuals. Just have a budget for a big number of individuals for when the program takes off. And see….what happens.
Our first Camp To Belong summer camp took place 90 days after the idea was conceived. We converged on the campus of UNLV with that small circle of colleagues, friends and family as volunteer counselors. We engaged a small number of case managers to identify 32 kids; all part of sibling groups. We didn’t have a swimming pool, so the fire department came and turned on their hoses. We couldn’t go horse back riding because it was too hot for the horses at the stable, so the groomers of the Italian Stallions of the Excalibur Hotel brought the horses over for everyone to pet. The baseball coach ran a softball game. An art teacher led art programs. We set up a campfire with logs, crepe paper and flashlights because campfires were banned. A gospel group helped us sing camp songs. We put in our own money and the rest came and covered the budget.
We made memories!
Now we have almost a dozen Summer Camps across the U.S. and Australia. Up to 100 campers each, all with siblings, and counselors with a 1-2 ratio to learn, play and grow together. Our site partners are accredited ACA Camps with pools, or lakes, or one even near an ocean. We go horseback riding and play all kinds of sports. And our art programs are intentional for siblings to express themselves to each other. We have real live, under the stars, campfires and we sing from morning til night. And more than just Camps, we affect legislation, family recruitment and best practice. And, the money is coming.
You see, all that growth happened because we didn’t have a plan up front. We just did it!! And, to be honest, I think it was better than what we could have planned?!