Like many things, the Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF) began in Scotland. In 2008, CEiS invited leading lights in social enterprise from around the world to compare notes on the movement that is social enterprise. Since then, this annual event has grown from strength to strength moving across each of the world's continents. In 2014, it was the turn of Asia and South Korea put on a great show!
With over a thousand delegates from around the globe, I was part of an international study trip arranged by CEiS. Gerry Higgins had worked his magic and alongside the able support of the fantastic Joanne, about twenty of us set off for the Orient!
It was a fascinating study trip that both preceded and followed the SEWF conference in Seoul. Amongst meeting some remarkable people and eating some pretty 'interesting' food (like cold noodles in cold water...) - a simple idea was presented which I'd like to share with you here...
At one of the workshops I attended, a familiar face from the States was speaking - Kevin Lynch, CEO of the Social Enterprise Alliance. Bear in mind that many people these days are talking about cultivating social innovation: incubators are springing up all over the place, European policy is moving from social enterprise towards social innovation and investment discussion is also considering this "new" phenomenon. I was intrigued to find out more.
So when I slipped in the door to my workshop slightly late, you can imagine my surprise at the very moment I sit myself down, I hear..."OK – so what is social enterprise?" Really? Nineteen years after the term was published in Leadbetter's book, we're still talking about this! That's it, I'm leaving. Going back to the networking room for some more cookies and chat. But before I did, he produced a picture that stopped me. It looked something like this:
It showed how social innovation is a function of the head; social entrepreneurship is a function of the heart and social enterprise is the thing, the body if you will, that carries these things around. Suddenly the connections made sense and it brought to mind Jerr Boschee's work (also at the conference), who maintains that there are three types of people: innovators, entrepreneurs and managers.
Boschee called the innovators 'the dreamers', who create the prototypes and iron out its kinks. Entrepreneurs are the builders who turn the prototype into a 'going concern'. And the managers are trustees who put systems in place to make sure the going concern keeps going.
Each need to be allowed to do his or her bit. Occasionally, you can have someone who can be two of these roles, but it's really tricky to get the same person to do all three, especially for long periods. We need to let the innovators innovate, the entrepreneurs be entrepreneurial and the managers manage.
Maybe if we think about it in this way, we can allow genuine collaboration of these three types of people - in and across different types of organisations, to work in genuine partnership. All of which are critical if we're going to affect real social change.