The Big Idea
"There is no power greater than a community discovering what it cares about" - Margaret Wheatley
A 20th century country
The United Kingdom faces a number of problems which it needs to overcome.
We have deep-rooted problems of inequality, discrimination and social mobility which need to be addressed. Our society cannot meet people’s basic human needs for equality, dignity and respect without tackling these social issues.
Within our communities we have become isolated and lonely, disconnected from our neighbours and our families. Our social bonds stretched and broken we suffer from a reduction in mutual support and declining mental and physical health.
The world has entered a great connected age, yet our national institutions and government departments continue to operate as before, treating our problems in isolation and not as part of a more complex and interconnected whole.
Citizens no longer participate in democracy and we make little effort to encourage them to do so as it is simply easier and more expedient if they don’t. When we do make efforts to engage the ‘people we serve’ our consultation exercises are little more than a process used to justify decisions which have already been agreed upon.
Local media is broken. Its pursuit of profit has reduced staff to a barely functional level in almost every town and intrusive online advertising is used to fill the coffers. Positive and worthy community stories go untold and in their place salacious headlines fill the news, cultivating clicks and advertising revenue instead of civic connection and pride.
Our industry has stagnated through low investment and short-termism. Grey businessmen and accountants deprive our natural ingenuity and creativity of the fuel of forward thinking and financial backing. Opportunities have slipped through our fingers and we risk slipping ever further behind.
Our workers are increasingly insecure in careers which won’t last their lifetimes and we do not know what the future of work means for any of us or what we will do next in our careers or our lives.
Disabled people are scapegoated for failed economic conditions. Equality means nothing if employment is unfair, unlikely, or inaccessible.
Political parties, national institutions, and almost every type of organisation or business are operated through hierarchical structures and managed through outdated and alienating models of thought and practice. Citizens are treated like cogs in the machine by the very institutions that we fund as well as the organisations that we work for, support, or volunteer our time towards.
For us to become a nation fit for the 21st century we have much to address.
A 21st century response
At the very same time there are multiple movements coming into being that are direct responses to our situation.
People who care about others and the places they call home are taking their ideas and driving ahead with a new way of doing things, taking the initiative and rewriting the rulebooks as they go.
Our society will look very different in the future because of their actions.
Communities are coming together in supportive networks to help people in their neighbourhood. Men’s Sheds are tackling loneliness and Makers are producing prosthetics for children.
Local entrepreneurs and business people are coming together to rebuild their local economies, creating opportunities for a new generation of locally rooted businesses.
Micro Providers are delivering personal service in social care and Credit Unions provide support as well as financial services.
Community Partnerships are discovering how working together unleashes local potential and strengthens local identity. Organisations and services are trialling new approaches that recognise our human needs.
Arts Centre’s are developing projects that alleviate mental suffering and create a sense of community and our health service is realising that healthy minds and bodies add up to a healthier nation at a lower cost.
Community Resilience projects are leading neighbours to knock on each other’s doors again. Flood prevention is being done by communities adopting local swales and creating leaky dams in upland woods.
Citizen Scientists are monitoring nuclear reactor emissions and local schools are monitoring pollution and planting trees.
At Socially Enterprising we believe that all of these examples have something in common – they are Creative, Social and Resourceful.
They are ‘Socially Enterprising’.
When we bring people together around need we create the conditions for people to do what we do best. We learn, we collaborate, and we get things done.
These are the conditions from which leap forth community, empathy, creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
Socially Enterprising connects all of these things together in a way in which people can easily get involved, new partnerships can form, local need can be understood, and support can be easily accessed.
It’s a network where this incredible story of people helping each other and writing a new story of community can be told and their natural creativity, kindness and entrepreneurialism can thrive.
The Socially Enterprising Formula
A 21st century solution
Our networked approach makes a number of connections and brings them together to create a platform for social change.
1. Connecting agendas
Our approach connects to multiple UK government agendas, strategies and policies.
It is the government’s job to understand society, the economy, and our needs in the future.
Many governmental solutions have a tendency to be domain specific yet time and time again we find that causes and effects are complex, connected and multi-dimensional.
Our approach treats locality as the place where problems are most often experienced and encourages the building of local solutions from this geographic point through the resources contained within the local area and organisations that are within reach.
Place-based approaches are proven to work and connecting community development to innovation and entrepreneurialism is intended to unlock local potential and create a shared story about people taking control of their future.
This is a story that is inclusive and supportive of government efforts to improve lives and place-based approaches utilised by agencies and public bodies fit naturally into this empowering narrative.
2. Connecting people, place, and purpose
Our approach to place-based social action brings together the state, civil society and business around the needs of local communities.
By supporting local people to achieve the changes they wish to see we help to improve local perceptions and realise benefits for everyone involved.
3. Connecting data and creating collective intelligence
As equal partners in community development everyone should expect access to high quality information.
That’s why we give communities access to data and intelligence that enables them to make decisions and measure how their choices and partnerships lead to improvements in local lives.
Our platform enables communities to develop their local capacities gradually and we give organisations the ability to see where their skills and resources may be best applied, allowing funds and effort to be steered towards the right projects at the right time.
4. Connecting the story of local life and success
Every town has a story to tell and our relationships with community media organisations and independent journalism networks creates the right conditions for this story to form.
In our approach local organisations become embedded partners in the local story and our model means that local media and journalism can be focussed upon the positive aspects of community life.
This is a story of communities learning to thrive again.
5. Connecting local government agendas to local lives
Local government acts as a life support system for people and place and our platform contributes to helping local life to succeed and thrive.
We are committed to active and sustainable communities where people have every opportunity to live enjoyable and fulfilled lives.
It is our alignment with these vital aspects of community life which enables our media strategy to reach out and connect with the wider community, bringing new people and organisations into the local story and promoting the everyday stories of community and human connection.
6. Connecting learning to locality
We believe that learning in the 21st century can take place anywhere.
Our platform connects learning to community development creating an environment where every person or organisation can develop their skills, knowledge and experience through their involvement with local projects and activities.
7. Connecting employment, knowledge transfer, and skills development to local success
Our networked approach combined with our community learning environment encourages employers to get involved with local projects and recruit active participants who are developing their skills and experience whilst working on projects.
We bring benefits to everyone involved and add this to the story of the community and the success they’re creating together.
8. Connecting local experience to regional strategy and national expertise
Our network brings together the experience and intelligence that lies dormant in all communities and connects it to the resources and skills which exist in local organisations unlocking potential which can really change lives, fix local economies, and help the environment.
9. Connecting movements, needs, activities and organisations
We believe in great ideas, great people, and great organisations.
It is when we bring local needs together with local organisations, activities and movements that we discover the unlimited opportunities that exist to mutually assist each other.
10. Connecting problems to potential
Local problems are the stuff of life and they are experienced by people everywhere around the world.
We can see how the efforts and innovations of a group of local people and businesses working on producing customised prosthetics for local people actually leads to new possibilities for entrepreneurship, new jobs, and career changes.
The Forth Industrial Revolution can be connected to our ability to be human and caring as well as innovative and enterprising.
11. Connecting principles to possibilities
At Socially Enterprising we believe that you must represent and implement the future you wish to create.
We believe that we cannot ask people and organisations to adopt leading edge and ethical practices and principles or inclusive and open models of working unless we demonstrate them in our own operations, decision making and governance.
We believe in removing inequalities and creating environments where everybody is equal.
We believe working in ways which bring out the best in people and organisations.
We believe that socially connected business can bring positive effects to people’s lives and the planet.
We believe that new possibilities open up when we decide to live differently and do things with social purpose.
There’s quite a lot going on in the Socially Enterprising model, platform and view of the world.
As founder I have started writing about my thinking and approach on Medium.
Our blog is also a good guide to what we bring together through our strategy.
In our blog there a story of a new world coming into being. It’s being created by people with great ideas, by innovators and experimenters, by people who care and by people who take the time to understand, by people connecting things together in surprising ways, and by people and organisations deciding it’s time to change.
This is what it means to be Socially Enterprising and we want everyone to become a part of this new story.
Ideas and actions will change the world and it begins right on our doorsteps.