Mentoring CARE Catalyst Ignite! Innovation Lab

What if non-profits used lean startup thinking to create social impact and innovation?

This is exactly what Amplify 4 Good is doing for non-profit organizations nationally, and I had the pleasure of acting as a “floating mentor” for Amplify 4 Good’s recent CARE Catalyst Cohort 4 Ignite! Innovation Lab last month.

CARE (Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere) is a major international humanitarian agency delivering emergency relief and long-term international development projects. Founded in 1945, it is one of the largest and oldest humanitarian aid organizations focused on fighting global poverty and the empowerment of women within those regions.

CARE brought worldwide leadership from within the organization to Atlanta for a week-long catalyst leadership program, and the Innovation Lab was the last leg of their training. Typically leadership is nominated, and it is considered an honor, to be a participant of this program.

The Innovation Lab was set up as a two-day intense workshop to teach leadership rapid-problem solving. In this lab, leadership was presented with two sets of challenges to consider solving:

Challenge #1: Direct Giving (millennials)
Challenge #2: Sub-Grantee Process

CARE Catalyst Ignite! Innovation Lab SketchFor each challenge, there were 3 competing teams of around 6 CARE leadership individuals. Every team had a CARE host leader, and two outside professionals to mentor. For each challenge, there was one “floating” mentor. I was asked to be a floating mentor for Challenge #2.

Each team’s job was to develop a product idea to solve the challenge, and to pitch the idea to the judges which included top level executives within the CARE organization

All three teams within each challenge were competing against each other. The one team within each challenge that was chosen by the judges would be funded by CARE to execute their product idea.

Since I was a floating mentor, I was able to walk around and help if needed. I also got a birds-eye view of how all three teams worked together separately on each problem-solving activity.

CARE Fundraising + Marketing Jam SessionFor me, it was really fascinating how groups of leadership can be thrown together and how different personalities work together to problem solve. Some team dynamics worked, and some didn’t.

I found that one of the team, in particular, worked really well together. They had a positive and lighthearted energy about them, and they quickly adopted the rapid-paced environment of the workshop.

In the end, that team won. In retrospect, I think it was for a few reasons:

  • They had a great team dynamic (culture)
  • They were good at adopting lean startup methods and entrepreneur thinking
  • Their idea solved the challenge well
  • They created some initial branding

These four things gave the team a competitive edge over the others. I love watching and cheering them on throughout the process.

[quote title=”Title” Text=”We wouldn’t have won without your support, contributions and motivation. It was a truly a pleasure partnering with you and we hope we can continue to collaborate on making our idea a reality. ” name=”Robert” name_sub=”CARE USA”]

I was super impressed by the the Amplify 4 Good team that I would recommend that all organizations consider this program.

Also, I love the mission of CARE USA. Please consider donating or volunteering for the fantastic organization.