Tri-Sector Mindset & Tools: A Guide
Tri-Sector Innovation Tools

Spotlight Interviews & Maps

What are the opportunities for impact? Free tools to illuminate needs, opportunities & bottlenecks
The Spotlight Interview is an interview process for gathering input and insights from people with deep knowledge in an particular area to help identify specific barriers, opportunities and other contextual factors in their work and/or experience.
Unlike many research interview processes, the interviewee is invited to explore the role other sectors play and to consider the possibilities if they were able to tap into new kinds of resources and options. The insights gathered reveal areas that are ripe for innovation and can unlock opportunities for outsized impact.
when incuded in other contexts like Customer Discovery, practices from Design Thinking, Human-Centered Design, Liberating Structures, or Appreciative Inquiry.
Spotlight Maps are mind-maps used to visually organize and share insights gained from Spotlight Interviews.
These two tools work together to:
help identify the bottlenecks, barriers, or gaps around the focus area
uncover existing tri-sector resources being utilized or in short supply within the impact space
surface potential opportunities for impact from silos of knowledge by looking at the impact area from a tri-sector perspective AND from a community perspective

How does it work?

The Spotlight Interview process includes interviews with people from each of the three different sectors, as well as from impacted persons who have first-hand experience with the impact area, to capture a wide range of perspectives.
Ensuring there is a good blend of experience including those closest to the problems is key. Spotlight interviewees should represent a diverse range of experience in the impact area, from lived experience to professional or volunteer work to policy knowledge or work in a related industry or system. Information that could identify interviewees is not included in the Spotlight Map nor any other information shared.
Alongside our tailored approach in choosing interviewees, Spotlight Interviews include engaging questions that help shift the interviewee’s perspective to include a tri-sector lens.
“If you had a magic wand, what specific things would you make happen?”
“If you could tap into the resources of another organization, what resources would you use to help achieve your desired outcomes?”
Information, key quotes (or paraphrased quotes), and insights from the interviews are then organized and graphically represented in a Spotlight Map to aid synthesis, exploration, and understanding.
Spotlight Maps are commonly organized by grouping insights from Spotlight Interviews into focus areas or themes of the impact area.
Highlights are used to flag key insights and opportunities or trends by sectors. Both perspectives aid in understanding the potential areas of innovation within an impact area, as well as identifying trends of interest across the sectors and communities.
Tap into and connect insights from disparate pools of knowledge and experience through a tri-sector lens
Interview to gain richer understanding and identify bottlenecks, barriers, opportunities, and environmental factors
Share key insights in collaborative, public data tool

Needs addressed by Spotlight Interviews & Spotlight Maps
Where are there pain points ripe for innovation that can unlock opportunities for impact?
What does the community want and/or need?
What innovation ideas were sparked from the conversation?
What interesting organizations are engaged within this impact area—or could be?
What trends are showing up?

Explore published Spotlight Maps
Spotlight Denver - insights opportunity layer.png
Example of Denver-Food Insecurity Spotlight Map with “insights and opportunities overlay”.
Spotlight Denver - tri-sector layer.png
Example of Denver-Food Insecurity Spotlight Map with “tri-sector trends overlay”.

Spotlight Maps as a sharing tool

We’ve found Spotlight Maps to be an effective way of sharing knowledge with others and for bringing them up to speed. We also share open access to Spotlight Maps generated from our work.
Spotlight Maps - Current vs Future
Potential Spotlight Map data - Future


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