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Introduction to the Start Network

Christof Gabriel Maetze

Blog Post

Christof Gabriel Maetze, Start Network’s new Chair of the Board of Trustees, tells us why he is excited about working with the network.

It’s not for an outsider like me to give advice to the stakeholders of the Network and the sector. It’s more a question I am asking myself: Surprisingly, the sector has been more or less the same for a very long time with similar players doing similar things in a similar way funded by similar governments and donors. At the same time the world around has changed, businesses and organizations have been disrupted, merged, spun-off, been created, disappeared into liquidation or absorption, globalization took place and changed economic structures of entire countries, the digital promise and threat is becoming reality, the Internet of Things is taking shape, Intelligence is not a monopoly of humans anymore with the advent of Artificial intelligence and the number of overall political and humanitarian challenges has grown rapidly. Amidst this world of change I am asking myself if there is a disruptor somewhere who is soon coming to attack the humanitarian industry? Are there donors and funders that are willing to try out something completely new and cut out the current players?

I am convinced that there is no island of tranquillity left in the world as much as one would like this.

I am particularly pleased about the role the Start Network has started to play in innovations. Whether this concerns the flagship product of Start, the Start Fund, and the desire to attract new sources of funding, insurance and related resources or the work on Anticipation. It is about innovation itself and the idea to harness the power of digital in all its forms for use in the humanitarian industry and it is innovation about new forms of co-operation and governance. The latter is particularly interesting as it challenges the current standards of traditional governance. All in all, a number of topics that I find highly interesting and I am looking forward to make my humble contribution to the development of the Start Network based on my experience and my never-ending curiosity.

I would like to explore with the Start Network the connection between innovation and discipline. Not discipline in a bureaucratic sense, but rather discipline in the sense of setting specific objectives and then measuring your progress against them.

“Discipline is often spurned as being restrictive, not allowing for freedom of ideas. In fact, the opposite is true. Discipline creates the ability to actually discover the best ideas.”

From my personal experience, measurable objectives and deadlines don’t necessarily hinder innovation. Rather, they can be used to create a sense of urgency that helps to drive progress and eliminates excuses. What gets measured tends to get done. Specific measurable goals, reviewed on a regular basis, help to drive progress, whether the focus is on an innovation initiative or a segment of Start’s existing products and services that need to be improved further.

In other words, my priorities for the Start Network are:

  • Helping the Start Network on the way to independence and balancing an innovative culture with the need to be a trusted, reliable and compliant organization that respects the rules and the law
  • Promoting disciplined innovation
  • Developing the Start Network brand and story that will be told to the world. In a world of over-information, we need to have a crisp story that attracts attention. A story that is told to an audience of all ages, from all countries and across all relevant channels
  • Assisting in mobilizing new resources

I am looking forward to working with the entire network and to make the Start Network a hallmark of innovation in the humanitarian industry. 

Read more about Start Network’s Board of Trustees.

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  • by Christof Gabriel Maetze