Where did we go wrong?

Written by Rahul Chandran

16th January 2018

In our strategy we promised to be transparent about what’s not working – as well as to let ourselves have an occasional pat on the back.

It’s still early days. We don’t have enough distance to see if we are making major strategic mistakes. This is therefore is a bit of a placeholder, but still: Where did we go wrong?

  1. That GAHI is still so small was our first mistake. The good news is that we are hiring, and should be making a round of job offers in the next two weeks. Hiring our key directors should have been priority #1 not #2.
  2. The choice to pursue communicating with the membership and adding new partners underestimated the complexity of this process and the communications demands. This was priority #1 – it might well have taken second place to hiring more people – because without people, we cannot serve our members properly.
  3. This website should have been live 2 months ago. The painful processes of starting recruitment / contracting / membership negotiations distracted us. They were a distraction, but they should not have stopped us from pushing through a contract so that we could communicate.

What might we have done wrong, but we can’t tell yet

  1. We’ve bet the farm on scale. There are lots of people working in humanitarian innovation. Drawing on the brilliant work that went into GAHI (thank to Deloitte, Centrim, and IDS) – and our conversations with over a hundred stakeholders, we think we’re making the right bet. But it’s a bet.
  2. We’re going big or going home. We don’t see a point in GAHI sputtering along for years. It needs to be able to tell a compelling story about how we deliver impact in the next 12 months – or it needs to rethink its future.
  3. We’ve decided to take significant stakes in work on ethics and evidence. We believe that these are critical enablers for the wider humanitarian system, and places where collective action can help. We might be wrong – and this might be a wasted focus.

What do we feel good about?

  1. Our strategy is well-vetted and well-received. Almost everyone in the space that we’ve talked to likes our model – for its simplicity and clarity. If you disagree, please let us know! 
  2. We have put values front and centre. You may have noticed that values crop up on the GAHI home page. That’s a conscious choice to make this a value-centred organisation – and we’re proud to have done so.
  3. We have, for the most part, renewed engagement with our members. It’s not complete; we need to do more – but we are trying hard, and we believe that we are a service organisation. We’ve also brought in a number of new partners – and will release information as soon as we have approvals for logos etc.!
  4. We went wide, and then narrow: we considered a large number of focus areas, and then have narrowed these down based on member feedback. We think that our first announcement – coming soon – of a convening area and our partners is right where we should be. But we would think that?

Thanks for reading. Please let us know if you think we’re nuts in the comments – but we’re grateful if you would do so politely. Flowers, cakes and home-made ginger-snaps are also welcome.

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