There are lots of systems that help us get to the outcomes we want. In the social sector, it is common to hear the concept of “Theory of Change," a methodology to plan, develop, and evaluate the change an organization wants to make in society. First, the organization identifies the impact they want, decide on the “outcomes” and “output” of your activities, and choose the “inputs” you need to perform those activities.
Looking at it from a broader perspective, this approach isn't very different from the methods each of us use to make decisions about our personal and professional life. When we want to achieve a particular goal, we each identify the steps we'll need to reach to get from point A to point Z. However, complexity and challenges appear as multiple "Zs" become priorities...so what happens when we want more than outcome at the same time?
For me, my new desired outcome has become finding impact in my professional life. With this in mind, this summer, I am testing a new approach.
For years, I have been interested in bringing development opportunities to those who are less fortunate in our society. I built that commitment growing up in Latin America, a region with massive income inequality and significant social problems; and where it’s impossible to ignore that there is much to be done. However, I had always seen this commitment as a longer-term goal, or as a side activity to a full-time job in a traditional industry. Business school has shown me that this does not necessarily need to be the case. The topics of social enterprise and social impact are gaining significance in the business world as more students, entrepreneurs, and companies are interested in getting involved in the sector. Because of this, I decided that I would use my summer internship to test the waters to see if I could change my professional impact approach.
Choosing what to do within the social sector is not easy. Many of the organizations in this space do not have internship programs as companies do in more traditional industries. They often don’t have the resources to actively recruit on campus. However, the Inspiring Capital Fellowship program enters and aligns business school students and high-potential, purpose-driven organizations from the social sector. Not only can you work in one of these organizations for the summer, but you are also given time and space to interact and learn from professionals in a variety of roles and functions. Both elements give you the tools to develop new skills and consider your next step in the social sector.
This summer, I am working with Medtronic Labs, a young business unit within Medtronic, a global healthcare solutions company focused on biomedical engineering. Their goal is to launch businesses that transform healthcare for underserved patients in emerging geographies by bringing locally-appropriate services, solutions, and products to market. It has been a great experience to work in a place where, for example, their product development program requires new products not only to meet the expected financial outcomes, but that also must prove they are useful in closing a gap in healthcare provision for a specific market. This is even more interesting when you remember that it is happening within a multinational for-profit company with 80,000+ employees.
There is more than one way to create an impact. My experience this summer with Inspiring Capital and Medtronic Labs is proving that. I am still working on deciding how it’s going to be my theory of change, but I’ll get there.