Orient To Mission and Clarify Intention

Insight is the catalyst for brilliant imagination, the energetic intersection of data and intuition. It is fundamental to generating innovation. Yet getting to insight is no superficial task.

When writing about Google’s Quest to Build a Better Boss Begins with Insight,” I referred to an illustration of how Google (Step #3) jumped into data and how they then let it (Step #4) steep and percolate in pursuit of insight. This week, I turn your attention to the first two steps in getting to insight—(Step #1) orienting to the mission and (Step #2) clarifying intent. Sparkseed.org, a non-profit that invests in social entrepreneurs, illustrates these steps.

Sparkseed’s young founder, Mike Del Ponte, was on the path to the priesthood when the awareness awakened him that entrepreneurship, not volunteerism, was the best way to create social change. He explains his pivot in a 2010 interview with Fast Company:

It was the summer of 2007, and I was volunteering as a microfinance consultant in a rural Nepali village. Our truck broke down, and the driver was trying to fix it with a pocketknife and some Scotch tape. These guys had the worst tools–they were ill equipped to solve this problem. I realized then and there that the tools I needed to make a difference were my MacBook, my iPhone, and my social network. What I really do well is connect people. And that’s exactly what Sparkseed does.

Del Ponte grounded himself on his mission, and in doing so he insightfully strengthened his alignment with core-values-oriented, worthy goals.

Today, Sparkseed works with inquisitive college students to turn their ideas and insights for social entrepreneurship into real businesses. It won a Social Innovation Award from the Financial Times and has funded more than 50 student innovators.

And all because an aspiring priest dared to heed his responsibility to the world as it was illuminated to him.

How do you align your day-to-day activities with a mission? In what ways do you align your actions with insight to a worthy goal?