In the conversations we’ve had over the last month with organizational leaders about Bright Spots, this is the most common question that they have asked us. Of course the human desire to categorize things is strong, and we all want to know whether we make the grade. But because of the prevalence of this question, we want to clarify a few things about brightness:
- Brightness is a practice, not a final destination. You are bright as long as you demonstrate bright qualities and you stop being so when you stop. An organization that is bright today may not be bright a year from now. Likewise, an organization that is not bright today can become so by cultivating these qualities.
- Brightness is a spectrum. We did not find any organization that was perfect. Even the groups named as bright spots in the paper, saw ways that they could use this framework to improve. Constant and honest self-reflection is a bright spot quality.
- The number of potentially bright organizations is unlimited. The pool of bright spots is not exclusive. It is certainly not limited to the ones that we mentioned in our report.
- Organizations may be brighter in certain areas than in others (although the framework is holistic in the sense that bright spots work all of these areas simultaneously). In fact, an organization may be able to teach about brightness in one area and need to learn about how to be bright in another.
- The specifics of bright behavior has local variations. What might be appropriate in one place for one type of organization may not be appropriate for all. The report intentionally focuses on principles, not tactics, for this reason.
Alternatives to the “are we a bright spot?” question might be “how do we manifest these qualities of brightness?,” “how could we use these principles to become brighter than we are today?” and “what can we learn from organizations that demonstrate brightness in the areas we want to strengthen?”