Friday, December 2, 2011

HUB 2.0 Leadership @HUBBrussels - Open Conversation on 8 December

As a member of the HUB Brussels Board, I was thrilled to send the following message to the HUB Brussels community and careholder mailing lists today, knowing that tremendous progress has been made in the past few weeks in finding constructive pathways through the complexities of our HUB's current profound redefinition. You'll see it re-posted on the HUB Brussels blog next week. (I've taken out the email addresses, so please feel free to connect around this via twitter @HUBBrussels if you'd like to join us.)

Hub Brussels is looking for new leadership: You're invited

Open conversation, 8 December 2011, 17h -18h30

Dear Hub members and careholders, dear friends,

We celebrate our 2nd birthday at la Chocolaterie tomorrow, knowing that 2012 will be a decisive year towards Hub Brussels 2.0: a new space, new leadership and new ambitions. There has been a lot of work over the past weeks to find the energy, fresh blood and brilliant ideas Hub Brussels needs now, to bring it to the next level.

Hub Members Bieke van Dijk and Marie-Gabrielle Amadieu have stepped up and engaged with many of you to accelerate the process of finding new leaders for Hub Brussels. This effort has the full support of the Board and the "old" co-founders in this process. Several of you have signalled to be ready to take on more engagement and ownership and that's great because we need an inspired new breed of kick-ass social entrepreneurs!

To create some space for a conversation about rejuvenating leadership and ownership of the Hub, you're invited to join us for an

        Open conversation on 8 December, from 17.00- 18.30, at Hub Brussels,

to talk about the current state of the Hub, the plans for 2012, transition to the new Hub space, our roles (old co-founders, members, operational team, careholders, emerging new leaders, Hub network) and how each of us can engage in this process. We will also talk about the kind of people and qualities we are looking for, to fill gaps in the new team of HUB2.0 leadership talents that’s emerging.

In these times of chaos and uncertainty, a space for creating opportunities to make this world a better place is needed more than ever. This space is called the Hub. Together with the global HUB network, we’re on the cutting edge of innovation in how people connect for building a better world, and we count on you to be a part of our continued changes in Brussels.

We look forward to seeing you on 8 December (please confirm by replying to @HUBBrussels on Twitter) and please contact us beforehand if you have comments and ideas, at the Hub fair tomorrow (3 December) or elsewhere.  

Hugs from the Hub, 

For Board, team and co-founders
Alexander Riedl, Christina Jordan

Friday, November 11, 2011

What is a Changemaker, and how do I become one?

I have been having fun with this presentation lately as a conversation starter with groups of aspiring changemakers. I originally prepared it for a group of HUB Brussels members and Dutch civil sector students who were visiting the HUB on their European study tour.

Earlier this week, I recycled it for a round-table discussion at the Maastricht University Business School. What an honor to learn from those engaging young talents!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What is a Changemaker? Reflections on Ashoka's EACH Vision and the Changemaker's Campus at #ACW2011

During the second quarter of this year, I had the honor of working with Ashoka Paris and a global team of professional group conversation facilitators in hosting a 3 day set of dynamic dialogues at the first ever Ashoka Changemaker's Campus.  Our theme was building Ashoka's Everyone A CHangemaker or "EACH" Vision.

Months before June's global event, when I had just signed on to help the Paris team and was presenting some ideas for feedback from the rapidly growing Ashoka Belgium group, someone from a local company asked me "but what do you actually mean by the word changemaker?"

I remember winging an answer that most of the room seemed to feel comfortable with at the time, but today - yes, even after helping to organize and attending the Changemaker's Campus in Paris, I am still not 100% sure that my definition of a changemaker is the same as how others in my professional space use it. If I have learned nothing else in my years of exploring the emerging "changemaker space," it's that we tend to have lots of issues with semantics. In the end, that might not be such a bad thing.

Are you a Changemaker? 

Of course you are - even if you're not calling yourself that yet.... and no, you actually don't have to participate in a changemaker campus to be one!

As I see us, we changemakers are a rapidly growing global tribe of hearts with minds who dare to accept and embrace that we actually can have a world where EVERYONE has the means and incentive to contribute to a thrivable human existence on this planet. We are the Blessed Unrest that Paul Hawken writes of - the largest movement in the world that nobody saw coming.

When I close my eyes and allow myself to see the EACH Vision as we embody it now, we are a beautifully gleaming mosaic of social innovators, social entrepreneurs, social investors, social enterprises, social ecosystem builders, socially engaged corporations, community based initiatives, NGOs, Foundations, LC3's, community action networks, government agencies, informed & engaged consumers, philanthropists, volunteers, moms, dads, kids and grandparents ALL OVER THE WORLD who have already decided and who will eventually decide to work together more and more, in big and small ways, to turn the world around, and set our planet's human development on a sustainable course for a thrivable future.

There we were at the Changemaker's Campus. 1000 of us with power networks, ready to reach across sectors and silos and backgrounds to start thinking big about growing the number of changemakers everywhere. We were bankers and policy wonks, practitioners and investors, corporations and consultants, and cutting edge social innovators from every corner of the globe tackling complex human challenges in incredibly exciting ways. We lived on campus at HEC, one of France's most prestigious business schools. We ran into each other to linger over serendipitous conversations in the long halls, outside of state of the art classrooms, where we learned from each other about our collective potential to build a world where the EACH vision could become real. 

The Changemaker's Campus main 2 day "EACH program," with 3 cross-cutting collaboration tracks (which followed a special sectorally themed cluster program), turned out to be a delightfully gooey and messy banana split of an event experience (with drums sprinkled on top!), where the many flavors present worked wonderfully well together.  For three days, we experienced the special magic that happens whenever changemakers gather. Idea sparks flew, mountains moved, foundations were built, and our collective sense of resolve and direction was sharpened. 

There was a collectively intoxicating giddiness in the sudden knowing: 
  • that we are many; 
  • that we are powerful; 
  • that we are very real and growing daily in our reach.
Changemakers are everywhere among us, already playing your parts to make the world a better place in large and small ways - many of us only beginning to understand the power of the impact we can have on the world with our personal choices about how we spend our time and money. Some of us are driving change from within the towers of industry, some of us are generous in helping out with crowdfunding and online votes for projects our friends send us links to. Some of us are driving innovation from within communities of likeminded people; some among us will influence new national policies, and millions of others of us are influencing the economy through spending habits that we are increasingly linking to the kind of impact we want our households to make in the world. 

Ashoka's Founder, Bill Drayton, proposes that teaching empathy in elementary schools would create a next generation of changemakers that would really kick the building of a more peaceful society into overdrive. I couldn't agree more. But frankly, I also don't think we'll need to wait for those kids to grow up before we start witnessing an intense acceleration of Changemaker activity in the world. I personally sense that the most important "big thing" we must begin doing together is to work harder at measuring and showing the collective impact of the (billions?) of Changemaker actions that are now happening 24/7, all over the planet.

My call to all of us is what are we all measuring, and what can we start measuring together? Which indicators, which targets, which micro-level actions and trends can growing groups of us commit to measuring together, in ways that can help all of us more clearly see and understand the new world that is emerging through our collective actions?  How wonderful it would be if we could figure out how to use our networks of networks to build bridges to a shared new perspective on what our unique pieces of the global change puzzle look like, when we are able to look at them together. 

Co-creating a world where Everyone is a Changemaker involves all of us who believe in a better world taking a frank look inward, at our own personal values and potential value to society, and making choices in our lives that reflect the kind of human beings we want to be, and the kind of change in the global human condition that we want to be a part of.  It is up to each of us, the world's people who choose to work and buy and invest in the part of society that believes in the betterment of humanity, to build our own bridges to a thriving new reality, and personally choose to walk over them. 

Finding your own comfort zone within the Everyone A Changemaker vision is a transcendence of all political dogma; it's not a passing new age fad. It's about choosing to identify yourself with the growing global tribe that knows the world’s best kept secret: that alongside the armageddon of crumbling global economic and political systems we all see in the news lately, other kinds of widespread positive change in the human condition are possible and increasingly real today, thanks to the growing millions of individuals, families, organizations and institutions that are engaging in new kinds of dynamic alliances across silos, across boundaries, and across dogma to co-create it. The world we are building holds empathy for the human condition at it’s core.

There is hope. 

Look around you, people. See the bridges to a more just society around you everywhere, and choose to walk into the reality of building and being the better world you believe in. We changemakers are the anti-conspiracy movement that’s opening up new possibilities for each and every person on the planet to thrive, in an inclusive, cooperative and a thriving world. 

Trust me, even if reading this blog post is the first time you’ve ever thought of yourself as a changemaker in whatever position life finds you, I can assure you it won’t be the last time in your lifetime that you will be called upon to reflect on the impact you can make in building a better world. We are taking over the world's leading business schools. We are infiltrating old institutions and (not so covertly) co-creating some new ones. We are sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, parents and grandparents from all over the world who are embracing this life’s large and small opportunities to redress local and global imbalances.  

Surely if you have access to the information today that leads you to this post, you are already  powerful beyond measure in what you know you can do with a few simple searches or clicks to support your favorite cause, social action or concern. What I guess I’m really saying Paris gave me is a certainty that more of those kinds of easy choices, on many levels in our lives, are yet to come. Changemakers at all levels of society are conspiring to create a world where all of us doing our part is as easy and natural as breathing.  If you don’t think you are a changemaker yet, you will be... we are making sure of that :-)  

#gratitude to Ashoka for allowing me to play such an active role in thinking through HOW to host the amazing event that the Changemaker’s Campus became, and to the amazing group of facilitators who lived up to the trust I place in them to help make the event "anything but a conference." I loved the experience and feel transformed in my thinking about my own potential value as a Changemaker because of it.

Feeling inspired? Share this post with some budding changemakers in your life and pass the positive energy along :-)

Monday, July 25, 2011

The WE Alliance for Women's Empowerment

This year, in the context of Ashoka's Changemaker's Week, I  have been honored to serve in a volunteer leadership role on one of the most exciting collaborations ever, with a fabulous group of women and men who have dedicated their lives to empowering women across the globe.

As I posted to the WE Alliance mailing list, here's a very brief report of what WE experienced together on the 20th (& 21st-22nd) of June 2011, at the Ashoka Changemaker's Week in Paris:

What we did:
  • We got to know each other a tiny bit with some personal sharing
  • We watched the presentation
  • We got bogged down in mapping the impact we each stand for, by philosophical discussions about gender equality versus women's empowerment
  • We wondered about who decided, and why it was decided that we needed to establish an alliance

  • We moved to another space and worked in a larger group with some fresh perspectives on thinking through the potential Who, What, How and Why of the WE Alliance idea
  • We went back to our "home" room and made a collective list of everything that needed to be decided upon in order to take the WE Alliance  forward (and also explored some concrete ways to influence Ashoka)
  • We created an exploratory committee to further develop a proposal around the issues identified and report back to the larger group with it in the Fall
  • We shared our reflections (after sleeping on it for a night) with each  other and some additional changemakers at a scheduled lunch meeting on the  following day
  • We shifted our focus to other worldchanging topics, but continued to share, discuss and take action on pieces of the WE Alliance idea informally with each other
  • We continued to identify ourselves and each other as part of WE in the halls of the Campus
  •  We became a magnet of attraction for the Campus facilitators (many of  whom are now itching to be a part of our unique energy)
  • We dared to dream that a next WE Alliance meeting - to ratify a WE Alliance Charter in revolutionary Egypt - could be possible in November of  this year.

What we discussed: 

There was a personal "To-Do" list proposed for all of us in the morning's presentation, which we were not able to revisit as planned (being distracted at the end by the whole other important discussion about how to influence Ashoka). When I revisited that To-Do list I found the following thoughts organizing themselves in my mind, as the main takeaways that I personally gathered from the entire WE process described above.

To Do #1 - 
Help define the DNA of your ideal community of collaborators
  • what differentiates the WE Alliance from other networks is that it seeks to gather innovators
  • the innovators should come from all silos in which innovators for Women's Empowerment are found
  • we need to ensure that we think carefully about including men
  • we need to balance between each member's individual and organizational identity & commitment
To Do #2 - 
Dare to dream about what we can achieve together
  • most of us were able to imagine working together in a variety of ways to achieve both simple (ie, knowledge & info sharing) and complex (ie, impact measurement & global policy influence) objectives
  • there was not much worry that we would find funding & other support to build useful structures and tools
  • A (doable)? next meeting has been proposed: Egypt in November, to take the work of the Exploratory committee forward
To Do #3 - 
Identify the value you can add to building the alliance
  • 19 individuals have put their names on the list to participate in an *exploratory committee* that will meet virtually in a series of calls and email discussions between now and the proposed November meeting. 
  • Our initial call has been scheduled for Wednesday, 27 July. 
  • The immediate issues for this group to explore will include those on the photo below,
  • We will also discuss some key questions about the November event that's been suggested.
    • Objectives of the meeting?
    • Who will attend?
    • Why it is important – why are we meeting?
    • What will we do afterwards?
    • (It's worth noting that I will propose some concrete suggestions recently developed by the Evolutionizing Innovation collective)
TO DO #4 - 
Get clear around what's in the WE Alliance for you
  • being part of a "sisterhood" emerged as a highly valued potential benefit for many participants (I wonder if/how we can develop that into a "siblinghood," since we know we want to also include men....)
  • Personal and professional access to a responsive high level global support network resonated as a valuable potential asset
  • we can organize our interaction & activity with "spaces" for the many sub-interest groups represented in the alliance
TO DO #5 - 
Think outside the box about how the WE Alliance can help us gain energy
  • this is the area where (for me) the most interesting ideas emerged "off-grid," outside of our larger group discussions
  • there is a tremendous amount of "energy work" happening among and around us, which seems (to me) to reflect the same energy that calls us to believe in the potential power of a global alliance of innovators for women's empowerment.
  • what gives us the feeling of "siblinghood" is the sharing of "together experiences" that energize us as individuals.
  • unleashing a cascade of innovation *might* occur if we work more deliberately to harmonize/connect the personal energy of the amazing innovators involved.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Part 4/4: A Social Business Plan for Serving the #socent Community - Transition support for late stage & serial social entrepreneurs

Earlier this year, I shared an idea for serving the #socent community on these blog pages. To my delight, an exciting group of allies, most of whom I have had the honor of working with in the past, formed and settled into a core group of 5 initial "builders" who are committed to working together to see the concept move forward. Our common objective is to support late stage social entrepreneurs, primarily through identifying opportunities to deploy their unique changemaking skills on cross-silo consultancy assignments for the Corporate sector, NGOs and multilateral institutions.

Amazingly, four of the 5 wonder-women in our initial group were able to meet up at the Ashoka Changemaker's Campus in Paris in late June.  It was awesome!

The #socent skills collective that Bonnie Koenig, Cheryl Cooper, Christelle van Ham, Jean Russell and I have been imagining together since February was on the program in the Alliances for Change track on the last day of the Changemaker's Campus event, which gave us an invaluable opportunity to get some early stage feedback on the concept from a live group of social entrepreneurs and consultants active in the social change space. Facilitator Alycia Lee from the HUB Amsterdam's "Collaboracy" initiative led us through a group dialogue and working group session with 17 participants entitled "Leveraging Professional Changemaker Values."

Gratitude abounds - not only for the session group's ability to "see" the utility and do-ability of what we were proposing, but especially for their willingness to help us start thinking through some of the aspects that merit the most careful thought.

My 3 main takeaways:

- The need for a professional support "bridge" to help social entrepreneurs transition between projects resonated very strongly with the social entrepreneurs in the room. Specifically, we learned that guidance from "others who have been there" would be welcome in transitioning out of the leading role in the structures they have created, and on toward developing the confidence to reinvest of themselves in building new initiatives that capitalize on what they have learned. The potential financial opportunity involved in consulting was important but not obviously the most important motivation for participating.

- There will be important work to do in helping social entrepreneurs to recognize and self-assess the concrete skills they have acquired during the course of careers which can be transferable to other professional contexts.

- On the flip-side of defining what social entrepreneurs have to offer, we will also have some interesting work to do on framing the deployment of their unique expertise into a (collaborative?) methodology based practice that can consistently offer unique and high quality value to the clients we consult for.

By the end of the session in Paris we had acquired some lengthy lists of names in 2 separate groupings. Not only did many of the changemakers in the room sign up to be informed when we start developing our database of deployable expertise, but a good number of participants also expressed an interest in exploring ways to work with us in helping to build it.

And voila - new minds gather, new hearts open, and a big idea moves forward toward co-created action. We will be exploring next steps with the expanded group of builders in the coming weeks.

If you have been following the development of this concept and would also like to explore becoming further involved, please let us know using the form the follows. As always, comments, questions and additional feedback most welcome in the comments section below.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Part 3/4: A Social Business Plan for Serving the #socent Community: Collaborating to Build a Values Driven Collective

A vision is (and can only ever be) a framework for anchoring our thinking. What becomes "real" from a vision is always (and can only ever be) a reflection of how it resonates with others, especially with people who have the will to make what they see in it real.

Since I began writing about the Consultancy idea last month, some interesting people I know have shown an interest in moving forward to make it real. Some I reached out to, some got in touch when they read my posts here, some already know each other. Instead of writing a blog post to share with them the next bit of info about this vision that I'd planned to share, I've turned to prezi for help.  It's embedded below.

The inspiration to serve

Every vision is initially selfish - sharing it starts with admitting what I want. What does my mind's eye see in my dreams of what I would love to be able to be a part of on a daily basis? What kind of legacy do I want this endeavor to leave on me as a person, as I eventually transition again and keep moving on into my old age?

So I admit it - if I am going to be building something new at this point in my life, I want to be investing my time in something that helps me to achieve an alignment between my core essential values and my professional life. I would also like to work with others whose personal values and professional integrity I have reason to trust, and who are also seeking alignment with their personal values in their lives as innovators.  In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that kind of alignment really needs to happen more if we are going to maximize the potential effectiveness of deploying social entrepreneurs as a cross-dimensional workforce in the world.

Last week, I managed to gather 7 amazing people together on a group call, and shared some thoughts on how we might structure and finance the start-up of a member governed Consultancy Collective that would help it's members - Social Entrepreneurs - to build dynamic careers that are strengthened by nurturing our core personal values.

Of course, the challenge in sharing a vision is to articulate it in a way that others will be able to see clearly enough, to be able to find that they want it too. The blog post I was trying to write wasn't working. I am still not sure the prezi captures everything I needed to say at this point, but it's out of my head and some next steps are already planned, so things are moving.  

And what about you? Do you see anything in the prezi that resonates with what you want? if yes, feel free to reach out.
    The Big Idea

    Where to now?

    Space for the emergence of whatever should happen next is now open around all of the people who have already been involved in discussions about these ideas.

    Present on last week's call and tentatively on the list of potential Builders are Sharon Bylenga, Simone Poutnik, Jean Russell, Christelle Van Ham, Bonnie Koenig, Cheryl Cooper and me, Christina Jordan. (Disclosure: yes, I have tweaked the prezi a tiny bit more since I shared it with the group.)

    I will also be sending the prezi to former colleagues in consulting Marie-Astrid Corbisier, Michel Cervesato, and Walter DeSchepper (whom I have spoken to but who were not present on the call), as well as to Antonella Notari, Yann Borgstedt, Jennifer Milliken, and Jonathon Hirons, who all represent potential partnership opportunities I have been nurturing, and who should - for the sake of transparency - be aware of the bigger picture emerging behind the ideas I will be proposing to them in the coming days & weeks.

    If you have a prior working relationship with any of the people noted above and you find the idea of getting involved as a "builder" worth discussing further, please reach out through your personal channels to get connected, and we'll talk.

    Monday, January 24, 2011

    Part 2/4: A Social Business Plan for Serving the #socent Community: Co-creating how we present ourselves

    A key cornerstone to developing the unique consultancy practice I've written about will be the quality of our database of social entrepreneurs who are vetted, willing and available to be deployed on short term consultancy assignments related to their skills and sectoral/issue based knowledge.

    When it comes to initially recruiting potential consultants, the prestigious "labeling" networks such as Ashoka, Skoll Foundation and Schwab Foundation offer existing vetting processes and profiles that we can hopefully build upon.  Asking those agencies' input on identifying their Fellows who fit the "post-late-stage" description comes to mind as a great place to start approaching those important standard-setting organizations with value we can help them to add to their Fellow's experience. 

    However, we will need a scalable framework for effectively tapping into an even broader range of dynamic social entrepreneur talent pools than the "big" labeling networks alone can offer.  To that end, I am proposing a database development process that includes at least 6 months of gathering direct potential stakeholder input as described below.

    Engaging our potential consultants in designing how we present their experience to potential clients will enable us to explore a variety of ways we can plan to leverage the value of the database we build, for maximum impact on the growth of all of our consultants' primary activities. It will also give us the knowledge of our consultants capacities we'll need to begin developing differentiated pricing models and quality control systems for the kinds of value added services we can confidently claim to offer.  

    The inspiration to serve

    After a presentation I recently gave at a #140confBrussels gathering, another of the speakers persuaded me of the "black hole of information" that he told me futurists are saying will exist around the recorded history from our time. As I understood his argument, too much valuable new information is being created in digital age real time that we are not yet capturing and sorting for historical knowledge sharing purposes.  Even powerful tools like the amazing wayback machine are having trouble keeping up with the pace of new online content growth in a self-sustaining way.

    So here's how I see it: If we want today's stories of social change to matter in the world, it is incumbent upon us to start building our history, and keeping a clear record of what we are gaining experience in and collectively achieving in the global changemaker space. I have been feeling a need to redefine how we profile ourselves for many years, and am thrilled to see that new online mapping tools like are finally making it easier to imagine creating profiles for social entrepreneurs that, I believe, can add considerable value to our unique professional potential.

    The big idea

    Building a successful commercial consulting practice will involve developing an up-to-date database of the relevant experience that our workforce of consultants has to offer, which reflects the variety of current operational expertise we have to draw from in designing and deploying consulting teams to meet our clients' needs.  The internet offers us increasing shapes and forms of content to link to in evidence of that operational experience. Mapping technologies like what is able to render make it possible now (finally) for individuals within a community to seamlessly and effectively consolidate a broad range of online content activity from different platforms, into a single profile and archive building interface.

    If we begin to use that kind of technology to deliberately build upon the value of an individual changemaker's big and small cutting edge activities and achievements - historically and in real time - we will have also created something more. Our database of consultants, which is also in effect a trust based network with a high propensity of face-to-face connections, becomes a unique platform for showcasing what our experts' endeavors are achieving, have achieved, and even need help with right now.  Our database of links to the full range of a Social Entrepreneurs activities that are visible online becomes an "online superstore" of social change-related activities that can serve to invite repeated stakeholder and fan engagement.

    In the consulting database of social entrepreneurs I am imagining, we would be encouraged to configure our profiles to automatically keep our resumes up to date with active links that offers a full picture of our operational experience, expertise and output. For example:
    • video media about our projects
    • business & community services our projects offer
    • books we have written that are for sale
    • socent competitions we participate in
    • awards & distinctions we have received
    • physical products our projects are selling 
    • crowdsourcing campaigns we are spearheading
    • other funding models we are experimenting with
    • financing campaigns we have recently contributed to
    • reports we have submitted from completed assignments 
    • social media channels we are using to tell our ongoing stories
    • feedback from our clients and teammates about our work on completed assignments
    A collective digital space that pulls together links to this kind of content from a collection of the world's leading social entrepreneurs would not only give us a powerful platform through which to find, deploy and share about operational expertise, but would effectively serve to increase the visibility of every campaign, product for good and other kind of fundraising initiative listed in it.

    Who benefits, how?

    Our consulting practice will benefit from using technology that can tap into a wide range of evolving activities that our consultants are engaged in to create & demonstrate their impact;

    Our partners and clients will benefit from the ability to see, find and personally invest in the ever changing landscape of social change that's emerging around people they personally know and trust;

    The current and past Social Enterprise projects our community of senior experts has launched would all benefit from visibility within an online superstore of social change-related initiatives that invites engagement with each individual experts' current, past and future endeavors.

    Most importantly, participating Social Entrepreneurs will benefit. 

    In fact, an evolving profile is one of the things many Ashoka Fellows I know have wished for the most loudly during the 10 years since I was named a Fellow. Unfortunately, our Ashoka profiles are (by Ashoka's design) a static snapshot in time of where we were with our plans at the moment when Ashoka chose to invest in us. One could argue that what really matters is what happened after that investment, but our continued evolution as social entrepreneurs is not well reflected in how Ashoka (and other competitive award networks) have tended to present the work of social entrepreneurs to their stakeholders. 

    The face-to-face client and teamwork relationships Social Entrepreneurs can build through occasional consulting assignments can fuel new levels of viral engagement with each of our ongoing and past activities. Pointing my client in the Corporate Social Responsibility department where I am deployed to an easily sharable professional profile that always offers them automatically updated ways to consider supporting or engaging with my other work in the world could be a very, very good thing. 

    A one stop page that gets automatically fed with fresh content as we continue to blog, upload videos to youtube and participate in social media platforms and competitions as usual can also help to streamline the use of a social entrepreneur's promotional time. Instead of breaking our time up around promoting specific links to new opportunities as they arise, our consultants' profiles will offer a full picture of what each is actively engaged in right now to make the world a better place.

    The consultant's profile should be designed to be equally useful to the potential consultancy client who is considering expertise proposed for a job, to the former client or teammate who is looking to support or engage with the work of a changemaker they now trust after completing a job together, and to the online contact or family member who sees it in our email signature.  Our evolutionized profiles will become the one place where everything we Social Entrepreneurs do in the world can be seen, in a coherent, evolving, career-history documenting picture. 

    A community co-created plan for supporting social entrepreneur careers

    To begin transitioning Social Entrepreneurs' skills from our own projects to transferable skills that can be deployed in a social change consulting workforce, we need to first take stock of what we are currently doing and learning to do with new and old tools that we all have available. Technology will enable us to let what we are doing speak in the present and create a historical marker, so that what we have done can eventually start speak for itself. The question now is, which tools and systems are Social Entrepreneurs using to achieve what they are doing in the world, that our database should be sure to capture?

    I am currently talking with a number of partners about what's emerging as a +/-6 month plan toward the development of a professional changemaker database with high impact value. The plan includes 3 basic activities:
    1. Prototype an online collaborative process for developing a useful, trust-based community designed platform which serves senior social entrepreneurs in a specialized sector with new kinds of career-building support, visibility and potential to connect with new opportunities. 
    2. Develop and test an offline series of seminar events for guiding Social Entrepreneurs at various stages in their careers through a process of building a reframed and expanded vision of their professional value. The process methods will be tested with small groups. 
    3. Work with partners and potential consultants to co-create the consultancy vetting, training & certification process (and related database needs) that will provide a backbone in the quality control systems we put into place for pricing our consultants' services, coordinating teams, and guaranteeing the delivery of value.  
    Existing groups of Social Entrepreneurs within easy reach for engagement in this exploratory process through existing partnerships over the next 6 months include: 
    • Groups of regionally connected, self-identified social entrepreneurs who are members of the HUB Network in the Benelux region (Brussels, Amsterdam, Rotterdam) and possibly the UK;
    • Groups of actively connected changemakers and Social Enterprise support networks who gather at open space industry gatherings such as OxfordJam and SHINE UK. 
    • Groups of senior late stage changemakers (Ashoka Europe, WomenChangeMakers Foundation)
    Where to now?

    I am in active conversation with a Social Entrepreneur support partner on developing a trust-based web community that offers high value to their soon to be appointed first round of Fellows later this year, and see clearly how that experience could serve as a prototype for building a broader database that taps into other kinds of specialized, issue-oriented operational expertise. 

    As a Board member of the HUB in Brussels, I have recently been stepping up my engagement in helping to initiate a stakeholder engagement strategy in 2011 that - among other objectives - will aim to strengthen the HUB's community identity as a global and local network of self-identified social entrepreneurs. I will be looking seriously this week at the feasibility of incorporating the Social Start up Labs model in what I hope to develop with and for HUB members, and will continue to pursue discussions with on how to use their mapping technology to build on the currently evolving HUB member information systems. 

    I was thrilled to learn in detail last week about Ashoka Europe's plans to hold a Europe-wide collaborative gathering of Fellows and key stakeholders in the social change space in late June of this year. The most exciting new thing I learned in the presentation was that one of the main themes in the programme agenda is building social entrepreneurs' professional competencies. You can be sure I'll be exploring potential synergies with those developments in more detail with some of my Ashoka contacts this week. 

    What can YOU do? 

    Inspired by some of the very practical new technologies for changemakers recently launched by people I've worked with and been watching for a while in the social change space, such as, and wonderful initiatives like Amy Sample Ward's #commbuild chats, I am currently collecting guest-written articles about the latest developments online that support the social change spaceThese articles will feature prominently in a plan to bring the blog back to life this spring. If you are a Social webpreneur developing online tools for the social change space, you are invited to introduce your tool, tell us your story, and tell us specifically how you see it building project and career level value for today's Social Entrepreneurs. 

    Please let me know @ChristinasWorld or in the comments below if you would like to contribute a blog post about a tool for #socent mapping, project financing, product sales or career building that you'd like professionals in the social entrepreneurship space to know is now launched, launching or growing. I will look forward to finding ways to connect further around your ideas for Internet4Change article submissions, and will be seeking an initial 12-20 articles to fill a pilot content schedule in the Spring.

    Wednesday, January 5, 2011

    Part 1/4: A Social Business Plan for Serving the #socent Community: Developing a Commercial Consultancy Practice

    The inspiration to serve

    The real inspiration for this component of the Evolutionize It business plan came from the amazing group of late stage social entrepreneurs I had the honor to work with when I led the WomenChangeMakers Foundation launch workshop last spring. The purpose of the workshop was to let social entrepreneurs in the field of gender equity inform the newly forming foundation about how they should conceive of a great fellowship support package. We all learned a lot, and my hat goes off to the WomenChangeMakers foundation for how they are incorporating what they learned into the new support programs for social entrepreneurship in gender equity that they are developing.

    One of the most intense moments of the workshop came when the participants and I collaboratively coined the term “post-late-stage social entrepreneur,” and started revealing, crying about and discussing what that meant as a condition we all shared. Collectively, these 8 women from around the globe had impacted the lives of over 10 million people. They had all won multiple awards for their work. They were awe inspiring in their abilities to make magic happen in the world, and in their persistent effectiveness for the security and wellbeing of others. At a certain point, they all understood, however, that they all shared a really terrible and serious set of professional and personal weaknesses in the structure of their lives:
    • Not one of them was financially secure.
    • They all knew that they would have to transition away from the projects for which their lives had gained some recognition in the public eye, and yet, not one of them could visualize a plan for what was next for themselves.
    • Those who had ideas about new projects they would like to start were not finding any resources to back them.
    And of course, there I was right in that spot they were afraid of finding themselves in. Starting over after having stepped away to allow what I had started in Uganda to continue growing on it's own, and completely dependent on just my own creativity to figure out what was supposed to come next. For me, it was a transformational moment of realization that our experiences represented a critical gap in the social change space that needs to be filled. 

    While I will be forever grateful to my delightful WomenChangeMaker friends for being the first to so bravely help me start to see and understand our professional condition, ventures further abroad in the social enterprise sector have confirmed that this condition extends beyond just women who are changemakers, and beyond just social entrepreneurs who are working for gender equity. It’s a sector-wide phenomena among the best social entrepreneurs that we must transition, that we have skills that are extremely valuable to society, but that we find ourselves in need of support in making “what’s next” happen.

    Embracing that even the most committed social entrepreneurs must eventually transition out of the primary leadership role in the projects they create in order to rightfully claim the term "sustainable," the primary aim of the commercial consulting practice I am now collecting partners to co-create, is to identify and develop relevant and useful career building opportunities for social entrepreneurs - starting with those who have been vetted and recognized as noteworthy by the growing number of social enterprise support networks and agencies around the world.

    The big idea

    From 25 years of experience in the international development aid industry and as an occasional consultant in the corporate sector, I am 100% certain that there are many interesting commercial opportunities to source short-term consultancies for governments, corporations and international aid agencies from among experienced & acclaimed social entrepreneurs, on competitively tendered and paid assignments related to:

    • community event facilitation, 
    • stakeholder engagement strategies, 
    • facilitation of community dialogue & decision-making processes, 
    • the use of online communication tools for social change, 
    • project development, assessment & feasibility studies, 
    • proposal writing and specialized text editing
    • innovative approaches to assessing and leveraging the impact of ongoing development projects and programs,
    • etc.

    I have some concrete ideas about how to find assignments like this. One of the things I used to do professionally was sell & manage international development consulting services to multilateral and bilateral aid institutions. Lately I have been making some unanticipated but interesting inroads into the world of CSR, which lead me to believe that there could be a broader range of potential clients to explore for the kind of expertise that (especially) late stage social entrepreneurs have to offer.

    Who benefits, how?

    The opportunity to engage in the kind of short-term consulting assignments I believe we can find will allow social entrepreneurs to:
    • penetrate and influence thinking in diverse sectors of the global economy with their experienced innovator skills and social insights,
    • gain practical experience working together collaboratively
    • take planned breaks from their projects to gain new perspectives on their interests in new contexts 
    • practice leaving others in charge of their projects for short periods, with support from other social entrepreneurs who've done it;
    • earn meaningful personal income with low levels of annual time commitment,
    • invest in developing a personal long-term and global professional value that will outlive their role as leaders of their current projects, and offer some long term financial security.  
    Of course, all of that assumes that clients will actually benefit from the expertise that social entrepreneurs have to offer.  To that, all I can say is that personally speaking, through my interactions with Ashoka Fellows and likeminded #socent groups in countries around the world, I have become convinced that social entrepreneurs are among the smartest, most cross-dimensionally thinking people on the planet. I nurture a personal belief that within the minds of our systemic thinking changemakers lies our greatest hope for the future of our global development systems. Enabling ways for talented social entrepreneurs to influence projects and systems beyond their own projects feels like a noble and worthy pursuit. 

    A commercial, for profit practice? Oh my!

    While this will operate as a commercial practice, Evolutionize It is a non-profit making association, which means that profits are not distributed among owners but are reinvested into mission related activities. The net revenue that Evolutionize It earns thru successfully developing this commercial consulting practice will be reinvested in, for example:
    • creating jobs related to building the practice, including a solid consultancy marketing and global management support structure, 

    • developing a broader range of professional coaching & career development support services for social entrepreneurs,

    • establishing a start-over seed fund for post-late stage social entrepreneurs who have transitioned away from their original structures and are now starting new projects.
    Where to now?

    Key in making this work will be getting the right people and partnerships on board to help grow it operationally - I’m not talking about starting something that Christina can run from home, but that will take on an organizational form of operations early on.

    There are a couple of current and former business partners that I have scheduled discussions with in January to discuss ways we might work together in mutually beneficial ways to get this idea off the ground at an appropriate scale. At least one short term contract for a team of wisdom crowdsourcing experts to be recruited by Evolutionize It is already in late stage negotiations for late 2011.

    The development consulting firm I used to work with has also recently been in touch - in a small assignment to review their web copy I livened up the descriptions of their experience with new language from the social change sector, and was inspired to think about how doable it could be to deploy social entrepreneurs on the kinds of EU funded projects that they bid for.

    Explorations continue - I should have further news on this component by the end of January.

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011

    Introduction: A Social Business Plan for Serving the #socent Community (4 parts to follow)

    During the last month of 2010 I went decidedly offline and did some reflecting on how to re-frame everything I've been investing my energy in during Evolutionize It's start-up year, into a coherent business plan for a diversified social enterprise model that serves the emerging social enterprise sector in meaningful ways.

    As 2011 begins, I am excited to feel my entrepreneurial spirit restored. Last year's explorations in facilitating supportive relationships between social entrepreneurs are connecting with my decades of other professional experience in new and exciting ways, creating a pathway to Evolutionize It's future as a social enterprise support institution that feels comfortable, and easily within reach.

    Under my continued leadership for the next 1.5 years, Evolutionize It will be pursuing a diversified and growth oriented social business plan for serving social entrepreneurs in some very concrete and practical ways, including:

    1. Development of a commercial consulting practice that sources global teams of short-term consultants from among seasoned social change agents
    2. Co-creative leadership on designing a cooperatively owned platform of premium business building services for social entrepreneurs, specifically targeting (but not indefinitely limited to) self-identified social entrepreneurs who are vetted members of the global Hub co-working space communities.
    3. Modeling the establishment of effective, trust based online support networks for groups of social entrepreneurs with specialized needs, and
    4. Establishing career development services and a "start-over" seed fund for accomplished social entrepreneurs who are transitioning from one brilliant project to another.  
    In the coming days, I will be using this blog space to share where I'm currently headed on each of these components with the plan that's in my head and real conversations that are already taking place. 

    What's most exciting to me is that while this reframing of my eclectic collection of professional activity since Evolutionize It was incorporated feels new and ambitious, things are already rolling in these directions, and these have been activities/ideas that I have fantasized about developing for quite some time (no - this list is not exhaustive!)   Identifying these 4 components of a plan that's tangibly doable right now is making it easy for me to see how I can build on everything I've already got in place to be able to get Evolutionize It where I'd like it to go. 

    What I'd like it to be - what I have always hoped it would be - is a new kind of social enterprise model that meaningfully serves the growth of the social enterprise and grassroots innovation movement worldwide. 

    Stay tuned for details.

    First impressions welcome in the comments!