The Institute of Possibility engages, equips and empowers ordinary people to build extraordinary communities and causes.

 

With the Institute of Possibility, Hugh Weber brings a researcher’s tireless curiosity and a community organizer’s enthusiasm for engagement to every project. His commitment to including the “voice of the people” as a foundational principle in corporate, nonprofit and community work is genuinely inspiring and ensures that projects have focus on long-term relationships that return benefits for clients well beyond short-term transactions.
— Rod Arnold, Principal, The Frontier Agency; Fmr COO, charity:water
 

Clients & Collaborators

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Emergent ReSearch

Using world class emergent methods and techniques, we identify and engage key groups for deep conversations, story discovery, network analysis and mapping, and expanded possibility.

 DESIGNed experiences

We've hosted BBQs and bubble parades for groups from three to three thousand. Spectacles can draw a curious crowd, but shared experiences have the potential to transform relationships and communities.

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Community Engagement

Most communications and marketing strategies are focused on short-term transactions. Our primary goal is always sustained, engaged relationships that are critical to building long-term value.

"Can A Movie Spark A Movement?"

 

IOP was recruited by Montreal-based creative shop, N/A, to help answer their client's burning question about whether this MLK biopic could spark a broader movement. Working hand-in-hand with a team in Nashville, NYC, Montreal and Sioux Falls, IOP led efforts to engage social influencers - including rappers, actors, and movement leaders in the streets - in conversations and content across the social web through scheduled chats and designed prompts built on the hashtag #MarchOn. This content then populated a special site built to highlight the work of national nonprofits and individual causes. Efforts would ultimately include a Twitter Chat featuring Oprah, Common, and Kid President. This work started with the release of the film and extended through Oscar season. 

 

"Is There A Difference Between An Activist And An Advocate?"

 

IOP partnered with The Frontier Agency and Compassion International - named #14 Largest US Charity by Forbes - to determine whether a messaging change could serve as catalyst for culture change at this global charitable organization with over 600,000 active monthly donors. Our research study included 1,500 active donors and 540 members of the existing advocate network. The research discovered that "advocate" or "advocating" felt passive and distant, while "activist" or "acts of compassion" felt passionate and active. This cause was personal for the donors and they wanted to act on that personally held belief. Our final strategic recommendation was "Greater Than One," a focus on acts of Compassion beyond donation. These images reflect this focus and messaging shift.

 

"How Well Do We Know Our Community & How People Feel About It?"

 

Two years ago, IOP and the community of Milbank, SD (pop. 3,313) partnered to review public perceptions of Milbank and its unique assets. The survey, which had over 470 respondents, reflected a community with strength in its people and diverse economy, but also a deep sense of disconnect and discontent among current and past residents. Perhaps most surprising for the leaders of the community was the sense that the community had forgotten why it was special, unique and worth celebrating. To address these challenges, Milbank committed to being more connected, more cordial, more creative and more celebratory. IOP has continued to work with Milbank by hosting public workshops, supporting creative and entrepreneurial endeavors, creating opportunities for connection, and celebrating community successes. IOP is currently working with the community to produce a video titled "I Believe In Milbank," which spotlights the reasons why people believe in Milbank and choose to make it the place they live, work and play. We will continue to work with Milbank as long as they'll have us.

 

 
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"What Might Happen If We Connect Three States?"

 

In 2009, OTA was established as an internal initiative of IOP. Our goal was to identify, connect and empower the 1,500 world class creatives we believed resided in the states that end in -ota: South Dakota, North Dakota, and Minnesota. If we could find them and connect them, we thought - just maybe - they could transform the region. Leveraging social media and a best of class event experience, we hosted the first OTA session with 250 attendees and 6 speakers in 2010.

Seven years later, OTA has hosted over 150 global speakers and thousands of OTAns at 11 large-scale events and numerous smaller conversations. We have produced 35 micro-documentaries focused on creativity, community and connection, and commissioned over a dozen art and design works from local artists. We have featured and spotlighted 20 OTA Builders and 6 OTA Trailblazers as "Creatives Who Build Community" and helped fund their work throughout the region. We have completed innovative network analysis called OTA Pulse that was presented to positive reviews at Stanford University and Facebook. 

OTA made the transition from IOP to a nonprofit entity in 2013 and accepted a grant from the Bush Foundation from St Paul, MN for $1.5 million. Hugh Weber continues to serve as CEO of the organization. It is currently in the final year of that grant and looks forward to a future fostered by the extraordinary OTA network.

 
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