Fund for Animals Plans for Risk and Wins
In 1989, I was fortunate enough to attend a very intense management-training program that, in hindsight, virtually changed my way of thinking about business and management. The four-day program was called “Skunk Camp,” and it was operated by the Tom Peters Group.
(Peters co-authored the books “In Search of Excellence” and “Passion for Excellence.”)
One of the main themes addressed during the program was “rewarding failure.” The concept seemed out of the blue and contrary to what many of us had learned from other management-training programs and life experiences. But after a full day of listening and working on group assignments, we finally saw the light and understood what Peters really meant.
Essentially, with an approach that rewards failure comes an inherent view from management that it must foster an environment where employees are willing to take risks — in our case, rewarding failure in fundraising as it applies to testing and “pushing the envelope.”
We all have ideas we regret not testing. When it came time to actually invest, for some reason or another, we backed off and compromised, only to learn of a similar idea being tested by someone else. As fundraisers, we must endorse an attitude of risk taking and not just following what has worked in the past. As budgets are set at the beginning of a new year, a risk-testing line item should be instituted to allow for testing new approaches.
When I think of risk taking and rewarding failure, I think of the following case study where the organization was willing to see if a new approach would work in a segment of its program.
Organization: The Fund for Animals, a national leader in the animal-protection movement that furthers its mission through education, legislation and hands-on care, including sheltering more than 1,100 animals at Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison, Texas.