Applying science to create systemic change through human relationships.
I was new to this 50-year-old science organization when a long-time client introduced me to Manomet’s president, John Hagan. John had already transformed his organization from an acclaimed bird observatory to a successful sustainability non-profit. Manomet had undergone a rebranding process just a few years before, but there was something missing from their story. I was hired to find the missing piece, and to help them build a complete story framework.
Bringing fresh eyes and a ‘beginners mind’ to our work for Manomet was key to uncovering the magic of what they do. Working with my colleague, Alexandra Hammond, we analyzed their existing story to look for what made sense and what didn’t, and identify what was missing. We interviewed their internal team to find the commonality of the stories they told. We dug deeper to understand what truly distinguished the work of Manomet and find the heart of this organization, their reason for being, their ‘why’. What we learned from our discovery process is this: We have the science to solve the most complex sustainability challenges of our time. But if we want this science to get used by the people in a position to apply it, we must lead with the relationship to first build trust, and then follow with the science.
As an accomplished scientist himself, John’s extensive inquiry into what he calls “The science of when science doesn’t matter (and what to do about it)”, revealed that solving big problems such as climate change will require widespread participation. It will take participation from both progressives and conservatives, from people with different world views and perspectives, and from people of all ages. In fact, viewpoint diversity helps us solve problems faster and better, and creates the broad participation we need to make the world more sustainable. This is why Manomet crosses political and cultural divides to build relationships of trust with people of diverse viewpoints, skills and knowledge. This ‘theory of change’ was being used successfully across a wide range of projects at Manomet — with land managers, teachers, foresters, fisherman, farmers, business owners, community leaders, institutional investors and many more. But nowhere was this powerful story about crossing divides being told. Now it is.
This is the magic of Manomet.