Meredith Caldwell






Management Consulting



By Meredith Caldwell

Impact – how can we best spend our time to be most effective?

When everyone is talking about start-ups, the next big thing and being their own boss, what are the best questions to ask ourselves?

Where are the best solutions?

I have been asking myself this question a lot since starting my MBA. Entrepreneurship, especially in the social impact space, seems to focus on the ability for people to bring new solutions and creativity to the tackling global problems; but what about all the time taken to setting up these organisations? What about all the hours required to set up bank accounts, new email accounts, creating a letterhead, or paying bills?

Sure, if the solution isn’t out there, many find the only way to bring support or solutions to those vulnerable populations or parties is to do it themselves; but if making a positive social or environmental impact is what truly matters, then could partnering with organisations across sectors, or making the patents/ ideas available in the collaborative economy drive faster ideation, more creativity and greater impact?

Is our time best spent setting up something new? Or could we achieve positive impact in a more efficient way?

From my initial first few months in Oxford, I have heard talks on systems mapping through the Emerge Conference, systems change outlined by the founder of Future of Fish, and Effective Altruism, an organisation researching the best ways for people to have the biggest impact possible through salary sacrifices or targeted challenges that can have the biggest impact returns. These varied talks have highlighted there may be better ways to have impact than by doing it myself.

What do we have time for?

Last week the Economist produced an article highlighting that if we continue with business-as-usual, our planet will be unlivable by 2100- that’s only 80 years away. If we want to make an impact, we better get cracking. What can we do now that will make an impact? What can we do quickly and continue doing?

Are we considering behavioural impact?

As a Change Manager myself, I am biased but also exposed to the changes that can be adopted through careful consideration. We have heard from entrepreneurs who have been inspired to start their own organisation after seeing countless organisations across sectors implement something that didn’t have any impact long-term. For anything to stick- whether as an entrepreneur, intrapreneur or a great leader, behaviour and people are key. How do we ensure whatever we decide to implement will truly be adopted and thus achieve the desired change?

These questions seem more and more pressing for anyone looking for impact, looking to go into entrepreneurship or looking to spend their time effectively. Even if we can’t answer them, we need to be asking ourselves these questions as we look to work, lead and live in the world. In the meantime, if we really want to produce change, we need to partner with others who have the same ideas, visions, motivations- no matter the sector- and put our energies and time effectively to reaching for impact.

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