During the first session of and for the Clinton Global Initiative, CGI America meeting in Atlanta this morning I was asked to speak not on the CGI commitments from Operation HOPE that worked — but the ones that didn’t work out so well.  

Going even further, the Clinton Foundation and CGI team even commissioned a transparency report which unpacked the nature of ‘unfulfilled commitments’ to CGI. Now this is the definition of honest self reflection, and further underscores why I believe that the Clinton Foundation is a global ‘best in class’ organization.

Of 13 total CGI commitments, 2 were unfulfilled — and I spoke about them both today. In some detail. I spoke about the magic formula for a successful partnership — a combination of 1) Time, 2) Talent and #Treasure — and what happens when two of these three elements are missing: project system failure.  And then my fellow panelist Zack Rosenburg and I (Zack is CEO of SBP) underscored the power of failure itself: building a case for ultimate success.  Learning from your failures, being committed to constant improvement, being creative and innovative, and never giving up (poor people need this quality in their leaders as much as authenticity) — these are but a few of the traits of both successful organizations, and successful CGI commitment makers.

One of our failed commitments early on was the ‘franchising of our financial literacy offices.’  What are we doing now: successfully ‘franchising’ quality obsessed Operation HOPE offices across the nation and around the world, now called HOPE Inside locations.  Combined with our ‘HOPE Inside for Kids’ locations, called HOPE Business In A Box Academies, we have orders and pledges for more than 380 HOPE Inside locations in total.  This is the kind of ‘failure’ that carries with it great benefits.

“Without the benefit of my failures, I might have actually failed.”
A special commendation to Robert Harrison, CEO, Maura Pally, CGI America President Alex Reeves and CGI director of commitments Elsa Palanza, who joined us for the kick off session this morning.  Here is a link to a comprehensive article that unpacks the topic for today: “What Works (and What Doesn’t: Learning from CGI Commitments.”

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