February 10, 2011
by Bradley Center
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A Book Discussion of
Mistakes to Success:
Learning and Adapting When Things Go Wrong
Do foundations make mistakes? If so, why do we so seldom hear about them? And if foundations don’t talk freely about their errors, how can they learn from them? Robert Giloth, Vice President of the Center for Family Economic Success at Baltimore’s Annie E. Casey Foundation, has set about to remedy that deficiency by editing, with Colin Austin, a collection of essays entitled Mistakes to Success: Learning and Adapting When Things Go Wrong. Here’s how he describes the purpose of the volume:
“Two key challenges motivate the book. First, the overall challenge of solving intractable social problems like poverty is exacerbated by our inability to design and implement solutions that are effective and stick. We must admit that our progress has not been sufficient and that more innovation is needed. Second, our propensity for ignoring and hiding, rather than disclosing and reflecting on, failed approaches limits our ability for real learning and improved investments. . . We must ask ourselves whether we have an innovation problem or a failure-recognition problem, and consider what capacities, tools, incentives, and supports are needed to reflect more usefully about success and failure.”
The “learning from mistakes” approach was also in the news recently with the courageous launch of a new website by Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Canada, AdmittingFailure.com, as an accompaniment to its annual “Failure Report.”
The Bradley Center held a discussion with two pioneers of this approach, Robert Giloth and EWB Canada’s George Roter, along with Rick Cohen of the Nonprofit Quarterly and Rachel Mosher-Williams of the Council on Foundations. Bradley Center Director William Schambra moderated the discussion.
Program and Panel
Registration, lunch buffet
Welcome by Hudson Institute Senior Fellow William Schambra
Rick Cohen, National Correspondent for Nonprofit Quarterly
Robert Giloth, Co-Editor of Mistakes to Success and Vice President of the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Center for Family Economic Success and Community Change
Rachel Mosher-Williams, Assistant Vice President at the Council on Foundations
George Roter, Co-CEO of Engineers Without Borders
Hudson Institute's Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal aims to explore the usually unexamined intellectual assumptions underlying the grantmaking practices of America’s foundations and provide practical advice and guidance to grantmakers who seek to support smaller, grassroots institutions in the name of civic renewal.
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