Veronica Lafemina, founder and CEO of Lafemina and Co, a strategic advisory firm for nonprofit organizations and social impact businesses, discusses the power of breakthrough ideas in a video interview with host Julia Patrick. Lafemina explains that her firm works with nonprofit CEOs and department heads to navigate the complexities of nonprofit leadership and management, focusing on areas such as strategy, leadership, change management, and communications. Despite the challenges presented by the global pandemic and various social issues, Lafemina emphasizes the importance of finding a better way forward rather than simply trying to return to pre-pandemic norms.
Lafemina and Patrick discuss the need for external perspectives and strategic advisors in fostering breakthrough ideas, as these individuals can provide insights, guidance, and permission to explore new paths. They highlight the value of community connection and engagement in creating lasting impact, emphasizing the importance of involving the community in the ideation process and making it easy for people to contribute and make a difference. Lafemina stresses the significance of in-person experiences and physical activities in addition to online amplification for community engagement.
The conversation delves into the current demand for in-person interactions and volunteerism, but also recognizes the need to empower individuals to take action on their own and leverage their own platforms. Lafemina suggests that organizations should give people the instructions and tools to make a difference in their communities, rather than solely relying on amplification of organizational efforts. Patrick and Lafemina discuss the challenge of aligning teams with breakthrough ideas, especially in remote work settings, and offer strategies to involve different parts of the organization and foster collaboration.
Regarding testing breakthrough ideas, Lafemina advises organizations not to focus on manufacturing ideas, but rather on finding resonance with the community. She recommends starting with simple tests, such as social media posts, and analyzing the response and engagement. She shares an example of the "Teal Pumpkin Project" for food allergies, which began as a small test and gained widespread traction and long-term impact. Lafemina emphasizes the importance of community feedback, media attention, increased engagement, and partnership opportunities as indicators of success.
The interview concludes with a discussion on how to know if breakthrough ideas are working. Lafemina explains that it depends on the organization's goals, but key measures include community impact, social media engagement, media coverage, increased donations, resource downloads, and partnerships with other organizations. She advises organizations to focus on creating connections with their communities and understanding their needs, rather than pursuing ideas that may not resonate. Lafemina encourages leaders to take practical steps, such as regularly gathering feedback from the community, to spark inspiration and make a difference. She emphasizes the importance of not overwhelming oneself and recognizing the ongoing exhaustion while embracing the opportunity for big ideas when the time is right.