Sector leader Heather Hiscox on the “Pause for Change” initiative, advocates for a revolutionary approach to tackling social challenges in the nonprofit sector by emphasizing critical, collaborative thinking and a strategic pause before action. You’ll learn how her framework transforms decision-making processes and aligns nonprofit strategies with funder expectations through a detailed, evidence-informed approach.

In the lively chat hosted by Julia Patrick and Tony Beall, guest Heather Hiscox shares a compelling narrative about the genesis of this concept, Pause for Change, which stemmed from her observations of hastily approached solutions within organizations. She emphasizes the transformative power of pausing to critically and collaboratively think through problems before rushing into solutions, which she describes as, “We’re just operating under such urgency along with that scarcity. Go, go, go. Solve, solve, solve” and argues that “what I noticed in my work, that was most beneficial was to take those pause moments to really slow down.”

Heather’s explanation of the “Pause” framework offers a deep dive into its acronym-based methodology aimed at improving decision-making and solution-testing within nonprofits. Each letter stands for a specific step, such as “Packaging the challenge” and “Assessing uncertainty,” culminating in an evidence-informed decision-making process. She passionately discusses how this structured approach can significantly shift the dynamics of problem-solving, moving away from crisis-driven reactions to a more intentional and thoughtful process.

Continuing, Heather elaborates on the challenges of aligning nonprofit strategies with the interests and the realities of funders, advocating for a paradigm where organizations and funders engage in a continuous learning and testing cycle. This, she argues, not only mitigates risks but also enhances the potential impact of interventions. One of the profound statements she makes is: “We don’t have to be afraid of the punishment or retribution around, you know, not knowing certain information; we can actually celebrate it.”

This learning episode will encourage rethinking traditional methods in the nonprofit sector, underscoring the necessity to unlearn certain ingrained behaviors and adopt new, evidence-based strategies. Heather’s insights serve as a clarion call for a more reflective and methodical approach to addressing social challenges, pushing for a shift from a scarcity and urgency mindset to one of abundance and deliberate action.