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Real-World Wicked Problems

Wicked problems are much like board games. Board games can look wildly different, but their inherent underlying premise–the nature of what it means to be a ‘board game’–stays largely the same. Wicked problems are classified by their multi-dimensionality, complexity, and inherent lack of solution. Like board games, wicked problems come in all shapes and sizes, but the inherent complexity of their nature–the nature of what it means to be a

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Wicked Problem and Design Thinking

Every day, we are confronted with problems–small and large scale. Design thinking provides a systematic approach to solving these problems. Formally, design thinking refers to the diverse and interrelated approaches, techniques, and tricks to scientifically addressing the problems we face individually and collectively.  This blog is dedicated to understanding the connection between design thinking and wicked problems. Wicked problems are problems without a singular cause or an immediate solution. They

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Wicked Problems: The Social Determinants of Health

We all care about our health, and when things go wrong, we typically blame some combination of bad genetics, risky lifestyle choices, and limited access to medical care or medical resources. Our social environment is a major factor in the relative outcome of our health.  Environmental factors and social factors that influence health outcomes are called the social determinants of health. The link between the state of our social environment

Person sitting at a desk with notepad and notebook in front of a screen.
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How can you enhance virtual volunteers’ commitment?

Volunteering may look different now than it did before the pandemic. After being forced to continue operations remotely for the better part of 2020 and 2021, some organizations are now leaning into the use of virtual volunteering as a way of gathering volunteers regardless of physical location. But how does this influence the ways that volunteers give their time? And how does this affect the “why” behind volunteering? Volunteering rates

Dream Big
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An invitation to social impact leaders

At NNSI, we have an ambitious goal – a scary ambitious goal for an academic research lab. But before I get to that, let me explain. We’ve been around eight years. Eight years – we’ve published groundbreaking research on networks for social impact. A sample includes research that: shows that collaboration is a lousy way to improve nonprofit capacity,  demonstrates how to scale-up evidence-based social interventions across interorganizational systems, and 

blur board game
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How do funders influence the outcomes of nonprofit collaboration?

By: Michelle Shumate About a month ago, I had the opportunity to share my thoughts on the ways that funders influence the outcomes of nonprofit collaboration. I’ve synthesized some of my comments below and there’s a link to the full panel video at the bottom of this post.  What do we know about philanthropy and social impact and its connections to networks and collaboration? We know that both the philanthropic