What is a Grand Challenge?

The term grand challenge has dual meanings; it can be used to refer to an intractable, systemic social problem, as well as to any bold, multidisciplinary initiative developed to tackle such a large-scale concern.

Such as ending childhood obesity. Preventing a Zika epidemic. Combating the devastating illness of depression. These are big, messy problems with lot of moving parts. No one industry or organization controls all the contributing factors. No single “owner” can step up and take action.

No obvious solutions or quick fixes are in sight. Throwing money at an awareness program here or a targeted initiative there only squanders resources and resolve. The sheer complexity of such daunting issues makes them perfect Grand Challenges.

“When executed well, a Grand Challenge is simply the most effective way to scale your impact and grow your resources — and it is the only way that together, we will heal the world.”
— Seth Kahan

To arrange an interview, contact Seth at (301) 229-2221 or email him at

Seth’s growing connections with cutting-edge private sector organizations like Apple, Google, Sharecare, and others is opening doors to thought leaders, business models and innovators. These alliances enable Seth to bring cutting-edge ideas, practices and programs to his clients. He even hosted a Grand Challenge Summit in which he brought together CEOs, senior leadership teams, and volunteer leaders from 17 organizations.

Seth has worked with leaders of many organizations to define, execute and manage their Grand Challenges. These include:

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For example, the American Nurses Association is committed to measurably improving the health of America’s 3.4 million nurses through Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation.

To explore how this can be adapted and put to your work in your organization, or to schedule a private conversation, email

Here is a complete listing of Seth’s publications on Grand Challenges.
Please download whatever you would find useful

Grand Challenge Summit Videos
for recordings of the opening remarks and keynote by Lisa McLeod, Noble Purpose thought leader.

Creating a Social Movement: 10 Key Elements

I’ve had the good fortune to work on five Grand Challenges – big, bold issues that attack socially intractable problems ...

Building a Grand Challenge Community of Practice

For 20 years, I’ve worked closely with CEOs and senior managers as an executive consultant focusing on challenges related to ...

Science-based Research – 10 Key Elements of a Social Movement

Last week we talked about Framing the Crisis, the most critical of the 10 Key Elements to a Social Movement ...

Identifying Opportunities and Challenges

Gathering member and market intelligence – steps one and two in my 7-step framework for association strategy will yield candidates ...