Charity Effectiveness

Blue Sky Thinking?

It can be tempting for charities to sit with the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it approach’. After all, if it has been working satisfactorily, why change it?  Often when the resources of time, money and staff are stretched anyway, and given the investment that implementing change management might involve?

It is probable that some charities struggle with the concept of change because being risk adverse is so high on the Board’s agenda. If the income is variable, taking risks may not feel an option, particularly if there are funders involved who also have a low risk tolerance.

The issue is that things are always in a constant state of change.  A General Election has just been announced, with resulting uncertainty of the effect on the third sector. This includes the impact on arts funding, on the welfare system, and the overall impact of as yet unknown policy decisions.

That is why Dance Professionals Fund is committed to being open to adapting its support, including a process of exploration with those who will be directly impacted by the outcome.

Where does the Blue Sky Thinking come into this? The origins of Blue Sky Thinking, now decades old, is normally agreed as creating an environment for your mind as if looking uninterrupted at a cloudless sky.   If a number of solutions appear, drilling down to what might actually work is the optimum outcome, with the assurance that all possible solutions have been examined.

As perhaps an analogy, I had some trousers that were just a little too long, so an alteration was necessary.  I felt this was the acceptable alternative to buying another new item to add to the already overstuffed planet.  The company of choice was in fact the catchily named ‘Blue Sky Alterations’ which got my imagination going – once I got the (plain, black) trousers back, would they be rendered unrecognisable, perhaps covered in rhinestones to the extent that a ‘Strictly’ contestant would balk at wearing them?  Or possibly ‘distressed’ with a resulting knee on show through the carefully placed fraying?

In the event, they arrived back the same, but different. Same trousers but somehow, because the alteration had been done exactly to my height, leaving me feeling in a way more ‘together’.

And this is what Blue Sky Thinking can deliver.  It doesn’t have to be just about delivering shiny new, and potentially risky, products, as would have been the case with the Strictly style trousers.

With a structured approach, Blue Sky Thinking shouldn’t be seen as necessarily resulting in risky outcomes:

“However, blue sky thinking is not a random or haphazard process. Instead, it requires a structured and disciplined approach that balances creativity with feasibility and strategic vision. To unleash the full potential of blue sky thinking, organizations must adopt strategies and mindsets that can help them harness their creativity and align it with their goals and objectives.”

Unleashing the Power of Blue Sky Thinking: Innovating Beyond Limits (

When I picked my trousers up, I did actually ask in Blue Sky Alterations why the name choice?   The manager pointed upwards, smiled, and said ‘it is the name we chose’ which left me none the wiser really. It is interesting that in my original search, two local companies had recently closed, one a national chain and one a rather sweet-sounding bespoke dressmaking company.  Blue Sky Alterations gave me back my trousers quickly, at a reasonable cost, and with friendly customer service. So I will definitely go back if I need to.   Is this something the others struggled to achieve?

If charities can at times exchange the word ‘change’ for ‘alteration’ perhaps it becomes a more palatable way to embrace risk? The charity is still there, albeit with alterations, but what isn’t helping any more, is not.

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