Where the sector’s innovative thinkers get their own inspiration

Where the sector’s innovative thinkers get their own inspiration

Adam Bryan | 18 December 2019

Adam Bryan, IoF’s Director of Partnerships & Innovation, ends the year by looking at recommendations from some of the sector’s innovative thinkers on what they have been reading, watching, and listening to.

In the insightful three-part documentary Inside Bill’s Brain, Bill Gates takes himself off for a week to a log-cabin with lots of books and papers to read so he can understand how he can help solve some of the world’s most pressing problems. The series provides a fascinating overview of how Bill Gates believes there is a technological solution to address big, complex issues like eradicating polio; supplying effective and cheap toilets to the developing world; and the small matter of climate change.

So, with a Christmas break approaching for many of us we have an opportunity to rest and recharge so we can come back refreshed and ready for the new decade. I’ve asked some of the lovely people in our networks to provide their own recommendations for some log-cabin reading, listening or watching.

To ‘steer you through endless bureaucracy’

Paul de Gregorio, the founder of Rally, was one of the first sector people to identify the public mobilising around causes they felt passionate about with a re-emergence of movements powered by social media, has recommended the Brave New Words podcast. On the Aldous Huxley theme, Henry Rowlings, Founder of Flying Cars, has the book Brave New Work on his list to help steer us through endless bureaucracy, meetings and emails so we can unlock our creativity.

For making quicker decisions

Making quicker decisions is a theme that has come up a few times. Hannah Blowfield, Innovation Manager and all round dynamo at Prostate Cancer UK, points us to Jake Knapp’s Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days. Girish Menon, the inspiring CEO, at Action Aid says we should have the Speed of Trust by Stephen M R Covey on our fireside table to help us lead high performing teams that are agile, collaborative, innovative and engaged. We should add diverse to that list too. Elizabeth Balgobin, the Institute’s Head of EDI recommends Don’t Tell Me the Score – this episode is on diversity but covers leadership, inclusion, marginal gains and touches on the assumptions people make.

For the innovators and idealists

Krystyna Grant, head of innovation at the British Heart Foundation, also looks outside of the sector for inspiration and is a fan of the How I Built This podcast, a narrative about innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists and the companies and movements they built.

Which brings us back to that ‘movements’ word. Peter Lewis, our CEO, recently wrote a whole blog about this. Andy Theedom, a director at PwC spoke recently about how we need to refocus on being mission, instead of institution led. Power is shifting and this book, New Power, will help us understand the role we can play in shaping the future and delivering impact. Comedian come activist Russell Brand and David Milliband both speak highly of it too!

To sleep, relax and meditate

Deep breath! So how can we help ensure you do come back invigorated and ready to enjoy your work even more. Mark Rowland, CEO of the Mental Health Foundation, points us in the direction of Bruce Daisley and his book the Joy of Work and his podcast Eat Sleep Work Repeat. Wellness and mindfulness have increasingly come to fore, and very good thing that is too. Meditation can help us become more resilient, deal with stress but also be nicer, kinder people. Our Chair and Director of Fundraising at the British Heart Foundation Amanda Bringans loves the guided teaching of Tara Brach. I have also enjoyed getting in to this – my favourite is the Waking Up app from Sam Harris (his podcast is great too).

And finally, don’t forget to watch It’s a Wonderful Life! Merry Christmas everybody!

Adam Bryan is Director of Partnerships & Innovation at the Institute of Fundraising



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