'There Has Never Been A Greater Time In History To Eliminate Extreme Vulnerability'

Interview with Chris Bosch, Director of Strategy and Operations at World Vision International


World Vision International, together with microfinance subsidiary VisionFund International, is one of the world’s leading humanitarian organisations. It has over 40,000 staff members (including part-time and temporary staff and employees of microfinance institutions) and implements programmes of community development, emergency relief and promotion of justice in nearly 100 countries.

Chris Bosch assists the senior leadership team, staff, and board with the delivery and execution of the next enterprise-level strategy. We sat down with him ahead of his presentation at the Strategic Planning Innovation Summit, which takes place in San Francisco this May 22-23.

How is internal innovation impacting your strategic planning?

Innovation has been integrated into the normal operations of our organization for about four years now. We have a dedicated team with an annual dedicated budget to ensure that ideas generated by staff have a forum for discovery, development, deployment, and financial support. The ethos of innovation at World Vision is that it is everyone’s responsibility and not a specific department’s responsibility. However, we do have two dedicated teams investigating innovations in products and channels to ensure we have a consistent pipeline of new offerings going to our audiences in new ways.

We have recently deployed a hot group in the organization to look for $14 million in operational savings over the next five years. This team is prompting the organization to think about how it can change operations to meet the savings goal. This is an example of internal innovation, which is directly connected to the mission of our organization. The savings will increase the amount of funds we can send to our partner offices around the globe for poverty alleviation work.

How have your strategic planning priorities changed over the past three years?

There has never been a greater time in history to eliminate extreme vulnerability. Technology, connectivity, urbanization, and the launch of the new Sustainable Development Goals create an unprecedented opportunity to rally Canadians and leverage decades of social investment.We need to finish what previous generations started. We owe this to the world’s children and to Canadians who want a competent partner to complete the task – and we do this to reflect Jesus’ model of demonstrating love, care, and justice to marginalized people, and to be faithful to God’s particular calling to our organization at this time and in this place.


Partnering. We invite Canadians to dream and create with us. We invite them to be 'insiders' and we see every Canadian as a potential agent of change. Sometimes World Vision Canada will lead and sometimes our partners will lead – in the end, we will do it together.

Employing New Business Models. We must multiply opportunities for investing in vulnerability-reduction efforts among children and communities. Philanthropy and partnership models embracing market principles such as social enterprise, impact bonds and loan capital are encouraged to flourish.

Inspiring Action. Building trust with Canadians one story at a time is a priority. Sometimes we will tell the stories and sometimes Canadians will tell their stories of transformation and use us to amplify their voices.

Living a Christian Witness. Our deep motivation is to show Canadians the love of Jesus by demonstrating Christian faith in action that expresses God’s love to all people in need.

Changing Ourselves. We must take risks, learn from our mistakes, and support colleagues regardless of the results of bold actions. A better world for children is discovered by those who are courageous. Thinking big will be rewarded.

We believe the end of extreme vulnerability is around the corner and it is our responsibility to dream with Canadians and seek God’s guidance to make it happen.

Why do you believe Corporate Social Responsibility is becoming more important to organizations?

CSR is inherently important because everyone has a responsibility to care for people and the planet. Profit is an important motivation and goal for organizations but corporations will not sustain success if it is the only goal. People are hard-wired to care for each other and their environment and they expect the organizations they interact with to do the same. The generation coming of age in the workforce right now has a new expectation for consumption and investing. They are creating an obligation on corporations to do good while they do well. This new generation of consumers and investors thinks much more integrative about their lives – mixing consumption with the spiritual and the spiritual with their daily actions. They have the same expectation of the corporations they relate with.

What major trends do you believe will affect strategic planning objectives in the next year?

Here is a list of megatrends we reviewed when we developed our latest strategy:

  • Aid is changing from physical (e.g. food, clothing) to digital (e.g. cash vouchers through mobile devices) and from humanitarian actors (philanthropy) to corporate actors (market approaches).
  • There is an accelerating rise of middle-income countries.
  • Climate change, food insecurity and related shocks will drive the largest threats to well-being.
  • Much of the world’s population is aging and the face of global health will radically change.
  • Religious polarization will continue to escalate, often with divisive effects.
  • Most of the world’s population will be urbanized and migration will accelerate.
  • The world is the most unequal it has ever been and economic inequality will persist.
  • The percentage of children in the global population will not grow, yet vulnerability of children and youth in particular will continue to accelerate, especially in fragile contexts.
  • Evolving forms of business engagement in the bottom-of-the-pyramid population will dominate the new global development agenda.
  • Donor expectations are radically shifting, adding increasing demands and new models for development.
  • Global connectivity and technologies will radically transform the way the world operates, creating unknown disruption and innovation.

You can hear more from Christopher, as well as other strategic leaders from some of the world's foremost organizations, at Strategic Planning Innovation Summit. View the full agenda here.


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