Throughout the nonprofit sector, successes are celebrated and mistakes tend to be deliberately forgotten. But, as Mistakes to Success: Learning and Adapting When Things Go Wrong makes clear, this is a lost opportunity. Discussing, analyzing and learning from mistakes should be a common practice, which can strengthen the work of nonprofits.
Breaking new ground, Mistakes to Success provides a rich collection of revealing essays focused on failures in the field of community economic development. The authors, leaders in the nonprofit field, write with firsthand knowledge about a range of projects, including an ethnic marketplace in Chicago, a childcare assistance initiative in New York City, national workforce development initiatives and an innovative program to help working families purchase affordable used cars. These compelling stories provide valuable insights into what it takes to shape and manage complicated initiatives designed to improve opportunities for lower-income people and communities.
This collection will be a valuable resource for anyone interested in the challenges associated with social innovations, including program leaders, nonprofit advocates, policymakers, elected officials, foundation officers and members of the public.
“Researchers and practitioners jump at the chance to show their latest program impact results and share best practices. Asking them to acknowledge, much less discuss, their mistakes is like inviting them for a root canal. Yet, we learn some of our most useful lessons from our mistakes. The authors deserve gratitude from those interested in improving the practice of workforce and community development.” – Chris King, Director, Ray Marshall Center, LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin
“This volume offers a fascinating walk through a variety of social innovation programs that didn’t succeed, or at least didn’t work as planned. Key themes, such as defining what constitutes success, determining when a project’s success should be judged, balancing or prioritizing among the multiple goals social projects often reach for, and building and sustaining organizational capacity are addressed in a variety of contexts, providing a rich set of insights for both program leaders and investors.” – Maureen Conway, Director, The Aspen Institute Workforce Strategies Initiative