photo of many people for AST
By
Akhtar Badshah
Aug 18, 2020

Akhtar Badshah is an expert on social impact, philanthropy, CSR and international development, an author and artist. He is currently serving as the founder and Chief Catalyst of Catalytic Innovators Group a new consulting practice focused on accelerating social impact through catalytic innovation. He also serves as a distinguished practitioner and senior lecturer at the University of Washington and previously served as head of philanthropy at Microsoft. Badshah launched the Accelerating Social Transformation program back in 2017. This executive leadership development course is for mid-career professionals working in the social impact space. Global Impact is a proud sponsor of this program and has seen the value it offers to reenergize and inspire innovation. 

2020 will go down as a year that brought out the best and the worst in each one of us. The year has thrown one challenge after another, and for many, we are continuing to struggle to balance our work with our lives. This is the time where we need to refocus and invest in oneself and rediscover the deep seated values that guide us. Purpose and to have purpose in life is an important driver. As Leo Rosten (1908-1997) humorist, screenwriter and political scientist said, “I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be happy. I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be compassionate. It is, above all to matter, to count, to stand for something, to have it make some difference that you lived at all.” 

Today more than ever we need to matter and to count for something. For decades we have been driven by the importance of growth mindset, the seminal work done by professor Carol Dweck in her book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” where Dweck focuses on unleashing one’s passion growing as an individual, taking on more challenges, learning new things, and reaching higher levels of achievements and ability. Growth mindset is very important for self-growth; however, what is missing is going beyond self and extending the benefits for the greater good.
 

In my forthcoming book “Purpose Mindset: How Microsoft Inspires Employees and Alumni to Change the World,” I suggest that in addition to growth, we must also develop and unleash our purpose. Professor Raj Sisodia, the author of Conscious Capitalism and The Healthy Organization describes purpose “as the fuel that brings the next tier of energy and capacity in people.” Purpose is that renewable source of energy that continues to drive humanity forward; without purpose, we lose our path. 
There are five principles that help us rediscover and build our purpose mindset:

  1. Discovering Strengths to create a future of greater possibilities
  2. Working from Abundance and accessing a variety of innovative resources
  3. Extending the Common Good and going beyond efficiency to effectiveness
  4. Igniting Movements that lead to societal change
  5. Embracing Empathy and Compassion and centering on the “we” rather than the “me” 

The British journalist and author George Monbiot’s foretelling of a new political-economic narrative that builds on community rather than on individualism is playing out as we grapple with the pandemic. In “Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics in the Age of Crisis,” he shows how research in the fields of psychology, anthropology, neuroscience and evolutionary biology converge to reveal human beings’ outstanding capacity for altruism, ingrained in our DNA through natural selection. The “politics of belonging” he writes about include creating a more participatory democracy, where many important decisions are made at the local level. His idea of inclusive communities based on “bridging networks” (which bring together people from different backgrounds) rather than “bonding networks” (which bring together people from the same group or community) is central to how humanity interacts and works together.  The COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement created just such an opportunity for people to form new bridging networks to help their communities build on altruism and cooperation. 

To embrace the purpose mindset and help drive social impact initiatives, in 2017, we launched Accelerating Social Transformation (AST), a mid-career leadership development program designed and created at the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Washington. 

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 program will be offered virtually from Sept. 30 – Oct. 22, using a combination of online collaboration tools and platforms that include MURAL and MicrosoftTeams. Through generous support of our funding partners including Avanade, Global Impact, Raikes Foundation, Icertis, Microsoft and Microsoft Alumni Network and #BillandPaulaClapp, we are able to offer the program at an affordable price. This increase of access and the remote delivery allows for greater participation from around the world. 

Around 40 international leaders from business, government, nonprofit, foundations and academia come together to discover their purpose drivers and deep seated foundational values. Through a series of exercises and discoveries, they develop their purpose mindset and an action plan to create more just, equitable and prosperous societies. One outcome of AST is the development of bridging network, where leaders from different backgrounds and expertise have created social capital by networking outside of their normal social grouping. 

The program draws upon the expertise within the Evans School and from Avanade, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Imperative, Microsoft, Tableau, T-Mobile, Vulcan, and leaders from the nonprofit community. This is a highly interactive and stimulating program that will energize your work, inspire you with fresh thinking, provide you with new tools, and expose you to a strong network to accelerate the social impact that you envision. 
 

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