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Making innovation work for good. T:@inspirechilli

Saturday 9 November 2013

Wake up tomorrow

This weekend I was watching Lou Reed's last stage performance; a slow, fragile, passionate delivery of 'Candy Says' with his favourite singer, Anthony. It's a beautful song, both for the poetry in it, the subject matter exploring identity, and its voice spoken out from inside someone else's heart. All from an old man struggling to stand up in his last months.

'What do you think I'd see / If I could walk away from me?'

Getting inside the heart of the matter is what we don't get enough of in our work. I hear lots of voices; I read lots of reports; I watch lots of clever people say clever things. And they mostly ring like empty bells. Put it all in a pile, you would have a mountain of words, leading nowhere. If you set out to climb the Everest of evaluation reports and research, the summit you would reach would be a cold place devoid of views, without much oxygen.

Such is what we value. The collation of data to tell us what we want to hear, what we often already know, what would make us look good among our peers, or what someone is willing to pay us for. Value driven, but with the wrong wheels on the car. Heading down a narrow highway to nothing, on an endless self-defining loop.

It would be so much more pioneering to crash the car out the circuit.

I love the artist, with that innate skill to slip like a spy into the secret of human spirit, returning with a shape of words or colours that set the mind spinning in revelation. Maybe it's just me; maybe I'm alone in all this; but one performance, one picture, one moment of depth, means a million candles of light more than another evaluation telling me why someone's approach is so good, why people are so poor, why why why delilah.

I want a Director of Illumination. I want a Direction of Emotional Gain and Giving. I want a Director of Revelations. I want a Director of Inspiration and Dream. I want everything and anything except another conference of usual suspects in suits.

How many chairities have produced a Banana album strategic plan?

How many charity campaigns have painted the Sistine Chapel?

How many charity innovation programmes discovered DNA?

Why should we snigger at the comparison? If we can't do that; if all we can do is another few pie charts, another bunch of young people clapped on stage, another soundbite, another self-serving article in a newspaper or magazine; then how tiresome and clueless we are.

Surely our youth charities have enough resource and insight and innovation that they could produce the next Great Exhibition? Not of industry like the Victorians, but of youth insight, to make us think differently about how we see and work with those we call young people in our changing world. To lead the birth of the new. To burst out the mask of changing paradigms with the insight of what we can achieve through a different perspective. An exhibition of influence and experience for people to say, in a hundred years, 'that was when we learnt how to live'. A place and space to interact with what the future could be, in a world of open talent.  A performance to challenge, rather than a festival to promote ourselves.

I want us to create Art. I want us to turn what we believe into beauty. I want us to know what pain is. I want us to touch the joy of a fresh season. I want us to burn a million times. I want us to love conflict. I want us to fall off the tightrope of our beliefs. I want us to realise that it's not even 2.8 million young people or how ever many we are talking about, but that figure multiplied by history and evolution into a holocaust of loss. Which we lead and are responsible for.

If I want too much, maybe it's because everyone else seems to want so little.

If the board room or the conference stage or report seems a little staid and out of touch, let's wreck it, let's shred it, let's end it. Let's refuse to be defined within the structures we have inherited to express ourselves through. Let's not forget the punkish imp of our soul.

How futile we become, when we are done to by others.The most incredible gift of being human is that we can create our world; and the only reason to be human is to wake up tomorrow.

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