Project Potential: Connecting the Dots

7th Nov 2014
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A few weeks ago, SocialStory formally announced the launch of a new social enterprise in rural Bihar called Project Potential. Now, over the next few weeks, as Project Potential plans its full web launch, we bring you part 2 of the 3 part series on their work and methodology. See part 1 here.


In the famous Buddhist parable, “Blind men and the Elephant,” a group of quarreling non-Buddhist scholars are told to tell the Buddha what an elephant is like. The one who touches the elephant’s head says “an elephant is like a pot,” the whole who touches the trunk says “it’s like a plough,” and the one who touches the leg says “it’s like a pillar.”

Much of community development work – by NGOs or by the government – is very much like the blind men touching the elephant; each party focuses on a specific part without seeing the whole. The goals, priorities, and resources of each party are not aligned, and therefore, the system performs below its capacity.

Project Potential wants to change that. The second part of our methodology – connecting the dots – aims to understand everything that exists within the system and then to bring together all people, assets, and institutions to work towards a shared vision.

How this works in practice is that our Village Visionaries map the strengths and assets of local community members, associations, and institutions. They then use these resources to build new associations, like teacher changemaker networks, and to help existing associations, like school management committees, reach their goals.

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If the Buddha were to ask our Village Visionaries and their communities what an elephant is like, they’d say…it’s like an elephant, since they can see the whole picture.

About the Author

Zubin Sharma fundamentally believes in the potential of all people. Fittingly, he runs an organization called Project Potential, which helps people and communities reach their potential using their strengths and existing resources. Project Potential is currently working in Bihar, but will be scaling across India in the coming months.

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