Grand Challenges: A Proven Way to Solve Intractable Problems, with Seth Kahan
Play • 32 min

Seth Kahan is the Founder and CEO of Visionary Leadership. As a leadership and performance improvement authority in the Grand Challenge space, Seth has helped over 100 CEOs and other high-performers achieve large-scale change, innovation, and growth.


Seth defines a “Grand Challenge” as “a big systemic issue that resists superficial solutions. It’s usually hard for a single mind to grasp because it’s systemic.” Climate change and lowering the stigma around mental illness, he says, are two examples of Grand Challenges.


Seth helps organizations define and articulate their intractable problems, thereby giving them the confidence and the resources they need to attack those problems.


When taking on a Grand Challenge, an organization’s first step is to create a Common Agenda or the core, agreed-upon outcome. They must then ask the question, “Who else is invested in that common agenda?” These will be the partners that make up their alliance and, often, these partners are not usually who one would expect them to be.


Seth, for example, worked with the American Nurses Association (ANA), whose Common Agenda is to “measurably improve the health of America's 4 million nurses and, by extension, the country’s.”


The ANA found a valuable partner in the U.S. Army, who see the deterioration of nurses’ health as a national security threat. Harvard Medical School also joined the alliance since they had been conducting the biggest longitudinal study on nurses’ health in the world, and looked to tap into ANA’s 4 million intended participants to supplement their existing 8000.


Once that network has been established, Visionary Leadership holds an event called a Design Studio. Here, the leading thinkers and activists in the industry come together to review and optimize the proposed game plan as well identify key leaders among that group to join the Steering Committee for the Grand Challenge.


From there, working groups are formed to address tactical issues such as metrics, funding, social outreach, coordination, logistics, and other factors specific to that field.


Finally, nine months after the Design Studio comes a Design Summit that brings together hundreds of people from various organizations around the United States focused on addressing the Grand Challenge. The game plan is shared, and everyone is offered a role to participate in the agenda.


Listen in as Seth goes on to share how his upbringing and experience in street theatre cultivated his passion and skills for solving intractable problems.


Finally, he shares his strategies for getting hundreds of people from various organizations engaged and excited to tackle their Grand Challenge while allaying their fears.


Connect with Amanda Setili:


●      LinkedIn

●      Twitter

●      Facebook


Connect with Seth Kahan:


●      LinkedIn


More episodes
Clear search
Close search
Google apps
Main menu