Instead of Disruption, Leverage What Already Exists
Organizations focused on leveraging existing infrastructure see great benefits
For as long as most of us can remember, social enterprises and social movements have sought to disrupt systems from the outside or to make fundamental policy changes from the top down. But while these tactics have often worked in the past, their increasing lack of efficacy in today’s world suggests the need to rethink their allure in favor of new strategies that leverage what already exists, in order to bypass the dysfunction that constrains change at almost every level.
To be honest, this realization was a surprise to us. Like so many others, the allure of disruption and systems change from the top down was hard to ignore, until the facts showed us something had changed. And it was undeniable.
It began when we at the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation saw some of our most recent portfolio organizations were not only focused first on understanding the ecosystem surrounding the problem they were addressing (and specifically taking inventory of the existing infrastructure and distribution channels and repurposing them, as imperfect as they might be), but they were having greater success in creating lasting change. When we examined the impact of more than 30 of our most impactful portfolio organizations, the data was unequivocal: Organizations focused on leveraging existing infrastructure and distribution systems had nearly three times greater direct impact than organizations focused on disruption as their primary lever.
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