Silver Lining Challenge


Silver Lining (noun): an advantage that comes from a difficult or unpleasant situation.

During this difficult time, the Silver Lining Challenge provides an opportunity to identify opportunities and challenges, collaborate, learn deeply, think differently, create meaningful solutions, and act.




We are all in this together.

At this unprecedented moment in our lives, we have a unique opportunity to envision and build a better future.  Now is the time to look at our schools, communities, organizations, businesses, families, and individual lives,  identify challenges, learn deeply, think differently, create solutions, and act. By doing this, we will string together a series of victories to make life better now and in the future. 

These are the Silver Linings.

Working and learning together, we will emerge with better processes, innovative ideas and solutions, deeper relationships, and closer communities.  The world will be a better place. 

Take a moment to consider where you can make a difference. What are your concerns, where is your community, what can we do better, who needs help right now, who will need help in the future, what skills and resources do you have?

What are the contextual challenges you and your networks can engage in, investigate, create solutions for, and then act?

Now is the time to make a difference personally, locally, and globally. 

Challenge: Create Silver Linings.

To support the creation of Silver Lining Challenges, we have developed a set of nano challenges that are fun, immediate, and easy to do. If you have ideas for more, share them using #silverliningchallenge, and we will add them to our list. The nano challenges elicit action and create quick victories so we can see that we can make a small difference. We also provide an overview of the challenge framework and some challenges focused on deeper long term issues that need the type of rethinking that only a crisis can provide.

Join us in taking action, and making a difference.


Marco Torres and Mark Nichols

I really do think that any deep crisis is an opportunity to make your life extraordinary in some way.


– Martha Beck

A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.


– Jackie Robinson

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.


– Albert Einstein

The Process

The challenge framework provides an efficient, effective, and replicable process for identifying challenges, learning , and creating Silver Linings. Through this, we are not only building the foundation for effective and sustainable solutions, but we are also learning a process for solving future challenges.


Start by creating a community or leveraging an existing one.  Who has a similar concern?  Who can I/we work with? Who can support my individual challenge? What organizations are concerned about the same things? Who can provide diverse perspectives?


Identify a big idea, concern, issue, or passion. This can be personal, community or organization focused. Develop an essential question – what can be done in your context? Why is it important? Why does it matter to me/us? The make it  actionable by creating a challenge.

Ask Questions

Ask lots of questions! The more questions we ask. the more we uncover missing, informtion. important details, and interesting ideas.  Seek diverse perspectives. Resist the urge to jump to solutions.

Seek Answers

Where can we find accurate information? Who can we talk to? What can we read, listen to, or watch? How can we get diverse perspectives? What tools can we use to help connect dots? Avoid building a case and focus on getting good information. 

Deduce Solutions

Take what was learned from the investigation, and identify effective and actionable solutions. Make sure the solution directly reflects what was learned in answering your guiding questions. Avoid “shoehorning” in pre-conceived solutions.


Design, organize, articulate, make, build, etc. the solution.  Stay true to the challenge investigation, the context, and the audience. Try with sample groups and adjust as necessary.


Plan how to implement the solution. Get key people involved. Make a plan and let people know, Consider how you will measure success. Put the solution into action!


Did the solution solve the challenge? How do you know? Talk with the stakeholders? What worked well? What was not as successful? 


Take what was learned through the evaluation process and improve on the solution. Get other people involved, make connections with people doing similar work. Make your solution better.



Reflect, Document, and Share

As you work through the challenge remember to reflect, document, and share the process and products.  To grow it is valuable to see how others are learning. Watching others learn and figure things out helps us develop the tools we need to create more silver linings. 

Take time to Reflect

Take time to reflect on your procces an products. The more meta-cognitive we are the better our process.


  • How did I/we get to the solution?
  • What did the journey look like?
  • What was my/our process?
  • What did I/we learn?
  • What worked and what did not? 
  • What were victories along the way?
  • What were lessons learned along the way?

Documenting and Sharing

By sharing both the process and products of our challenge we help others think deeper, differently, and become better.


  • Your challenges – hearing other challenges creates connections and new ideas.
  • Your questions – hearing  questions expands the conversation and perspectives.
  • The process – learning about processes helps us become more metacognitive.
  • Notes and drawings  – this allows us to see the process.
  • Stories, video stories, reflections – these provide the story behind the challenge. 
  • Photos  – help us to see the process. 
  • Blogs, essays and articles provide depth.