Tag Archives: social media

shine shine09 stories

(un)Question Time for social entrepreneurs

OK – first bit of live blogging. Am sitting in a session with a panel of four social entrepreneurs, chaired by our own David Dimbleby, Cliff Prior (CEO, UnLtd). The intention is to share learning, real experiences (successes and failures) and genuinely interrogate these practitioners.

First up is Ben Ramsden from Pants to Poverty, whose organisation started on the back of Make Poverty History and has grown from there. Interesting (already) that none of them are comfortable with being called “successful”. Sold 3,000 pairs of pants first up, and then went from there. [Shock news: Cliff owns some]

Second up is Davina Roberts of Punch and Juicy, who runs a healthy-living / drinks organisation. She has overcome homelessness, and chalenging illness, to do this work. She emphasised the importance of networking and “smiling while pushing business cards at people”. Punch and Juicy is a great name; + she has “juice masters” who make and create new drinks.

Third up is Annys Darkwa of Vision Housing which supports ex-offenders to access accommodation. Very interesting model (check the website)….and she felt that service user involvement and empowerment was at the heart of her success (alongside having the boxes ticked: policies and procedures).

Finally, Ben Matthews of Bright One, which provides PR to charities and social enterprises. I met Ben last year, and he is one of our excellent social reporters, and Bright One is cool. Going very well: too well, because they’ve had to put a stop to charities etc coming with more projects.

—————————————
Into the discussion, which is (I’m going to be honest here) sliding straight into definitions, much to a fair amount of tedium in the room…but Cliff has put a stop to it (through asking us to vote on whether social enterprise is charity 2.0 or business 2.0; most thought the latter, though I would say both….).

Now talking about how you can effectively marry your product with your social mission. Soc ents feel it is largely about relationships and interweaving them as much as possible.

Q: what skills do you need? Partners, partnerships (being able to identify the right partners) are key. Be clear about your core idea, and innovate within it. Communicate with wide range of people. Choose whatever structure is fit to your mission, finance and governance (not structure first). Also about characteristics and traits, not skills. Get them to learn by doing.

Q: Did you ever consider giving up? And what kept you going? Lack of holiday, lack of sleep, constant stream of e-mails, personal investment etc. all coming across as challenges. Career-changing a challenge. Need to stick at it (“survive enough until you get lucky” to paraphrase Kiva founder). Scale of ambition can depress you, but relationships sustain you through. Joy, passion, impact that work creates. + turn a challenge into an opportunity.

Q: We all go on a big learning journey? Who’s given you support….leading to ‘social entrepreneurs’ are most similar to offenders: “they see something and they go after it”; interesting answer from Davina; Cricklewood Homeless Concern, Brent Housing, Groundswell, Nigel Kershaw, Shine 09, Bright Ideas Trust, and weaving her way through the network….+ family! Quote of the session: “my gran said, ‘finally, you’ve got a good idea'”

Q: Question about plagiarism of your idea; all had some experience of it at different levels…or at least as they interpret it. One had competition set up, another had staff poached, etc. Importance of retaining core value. Need to take it as compliment + tools to protect yourself.

If I’m being honest, this session hasn’t really caught light for me. Nuggets of gold, and good honesty and openness, but crowd seem a little subdued. Maybe they are just taking it all in!

———————–
Summary: synergy between social and business is key; learning and going, not teaching / formal learning; belief and motivation (support + thing that reminds you why); use your support network: easier to be brave in company; using the people who say no to you.

One line advice: take holidays; time for yourself; JFDI management (just ‘*!@ing do it!) and learn how to drive! Don’t wait till you’re ready. Recognition reminders.

shine shine2008

Insights and wedding dances

Just attended a great session led by Servane Mouazan of Ogunte about different ways of gaining insights into dilemmas, obstacles and situations. Introductions via the senses (i.e. less what’s your name, and more what’s your favourite colour, smell, sound etc.) were remarkably illuminating, and there were some interesting connections from those first thoughts alone.

Then we had to choose a dilemma (mine was worrying about the first dance at my forthcoming wedding (considering my two left feet), then utilising thinking cards and cross-pollination cards to think about it in new ways. So, for me, that was thinking about ‘how my superhero would do it?’ and then a few ‘what would happen if?’ questions to prompt answers. Whilst I didn’t arrive this morning thinking about how Superman would approach a first dance at a wedding, it was interesting to do so….and certainly brought about some new insights: about the ability to use an alter ego to gain confidence, about everyone having insecurities / anxieties (re. Lois Lane / Clark Kent), and about the possible use of pants outside the trousers as a distraction tactic.

Nice methods to gain insights, and approaching problems in creative ways. Check out Servane’s site (link above) for more.

Mapping connections at Shine

The Shine unconference is very much about connecting people: acknowledging the value that comes from one-to-one connections, intimate conversations, personal advice, peer-to-peer learning and so forth. This did make it difficult at times to pitch to funders: so mapping those connections, trying to track them, and start to measure the value of them, is really important.

And that’s why we’re excited by the conversations we’ve been having with The Social Network Company, who are going to experiment with using their graphical mapping tool at the event….which (as with much at the event) is very much an experiment and a trial, but could have interesting results. Particularly if we can go back to those people after (say) six months, and see how such relationships have developed over time.

Day 2, people…..

So, with only a mild hangover and a desperate need of coffee, we begin day 2 of the inaugural Shine Unconference. As Nelly once memorably said, it’s hot in here: hoefully the beautiful weather will inspire people to come to the SouthBank, rather than head to the great outdoors…..

Already bumped into the impromptu social reporting team (Darragh, Ben, Dave) this morning; you can check out what they’re writing throughout the day here and at their own blogs (http://darraghdoyle.blogspot.com/ , http://puddingrelations.blogspot.com/ ); also met with Siobhan Edwards from Nesta, who are one of our kind, generous and pioneering sponsors. David McQueen has just welcomed everyone in the Marketplace, and people have now gone off to their various sessions in the snugs and nooks and crannies of this amazing building.

Do check out some of the video clips from yesterday (see link to the right), and watch out for the live twittering, posting etc from today’s day at Shine….

First day round-up

Ok, sitting here in the Marketplace listening to Steve Moore (I think) discussing the announcement of a new fund related to Channel 4 and digital media. It’s been a great first day here at Shine: really in line with what I and SSE and the other organisers hoped for when we first sat down to discuss this event. Practical, relevant, full of networks and inspiring, interesting conversations; no long tedious speeches; genuine interaction and engagement. I’ve seen all of that, and more, today, and I hope more tomorrow and Sunday.

OK, not everything’s worked: we had problems at reception with ticketing, and a few sessions had patchy attendance, but generally really positive. And great to see some real value emerging from 1:1s as well.

Roll on tomorrow.

shine shine2008

Shine begins: things are happening….

So, things are off and running here at Shine. After what might diplomatically be called ‘teething troubles’ at the front desk, everyone is in and sessions kicked off virtually on time. There’s a real buzz currently in the Future Cafe where Nick Jankel-Elliott of Disruptive Social Innovators is holding court….and here in the Marketplace, We Inspire Others are doing a leaders workshop touching on emotional intelligence and different types of leadership skills (and traits).

Some people made it about as far as the Snug on the first floor and sat down to have a chat and a read, while others were most keen to “find the coffee”. These are my kind of people, and I’m joining them where the caffeine takes me.

Next up, I’m running a session on ‘how and why to blog’ in the Pharmacy. It’s web 2.0 medicine, people. Here’s the slideshow for you:

All posts government

Simon advises on digital empowerment

I’m delighted that my friend Simon Berry will be advising Government over the next few months on how to use new technologies and online tools for community empowerment.
Simon will be seconded to the Department of Community and Local Government, that is producing a community empowerment White Paper in the summer. As you can see here from Simon’s blog the job will involve:

working with policy colleagues to develop specific policy options that use new technologies and online tools to support communities in shaping their local place and services. This will include undertaking cost/benefit assessments for specific policy options

developing CLG’s role in using new technologies to promote community empowerment and building alliances across government with Ministry of Justice, DCMS, the Cabinet Office & other relevant government departments

using new technologies as part of the policy development process

advising on delivery models for the new technologies policies and identifying in particular how new policies would work with technologies and approaches already being tried

I can’t think of anyone better for the job, since Simon has a strong background in community development, uses social media personally with panache, and is chief exec of Ruralnet|UK that has just developed a great set of empowering online tools through an open innovation process.

True to form Simon has announced the appointment using Twitter and said he was open to ideas.

My first suggestion was to do some mapping of the landscape – who is who in the field in and out of government. Even better, get together a bunch of well-networked people together for a few hours and have them draw the maps. Then work out a process by which you help them all connect up, and do the advisory job for you.

My other suggestion would be to help the civil servants involved get some experience of what new technologies and online tools can actually do. The problem in my experience is that they have limited access at work to social media, and also limited time to experiment. That puts them at a big disadvantage in responding to ideas. No good talking about blogs and video if they aren’t allowed on the desktop.

Fortunately Jeremy Gould at Ministry of Justice is developing a strong Whitehall webby network following on from the UKGovwebBarcamp and was one of the first to offer Simon some connections. I suspect the challenge will lie in bridging the gap between the increasingly-sophisticated social media types in Government, and the policy people.

On that front, I think the potential trap lies in ended up as an increasingly frantic messenger trying to carry recommendations from one group to the other. The real break-through will come if Simon can convince his new colleagues of the virtues of open innovation by which people learn from each other. I think there is a lot of goodwill among the social media and other tech communities, and lots going on including the 4Good Festival on July 2-3 as I mentioned the other day. I should know more about that by the end of the week.

All posts innovation open

Ruralnet shows how to do distributed communities


A few months back my friends at Ruralnetonline started an experiment in re-inventing their business in the open, through a co-design process online and in workshops.

The highlight of last week’s Collaborate|2008 event was a demonstration of the results: a very smart network of linked blog sites for communities tackling climate change, with any amount of feeds from bookmarks, other news sources, photos, videos, maps … and Twitter. You will find the site here, and as you’ll see it acts as a sort of dashboard for the rest of the carbon neutral network. It’s a forerunner or a much wider network of organisations and communities.

I have to confess that I missed the presentation by Ruralnet chief executive Simon Berry and Paul Henderson, because conversation in the cybercafe was equally gripping, and I was shooting some video on my phone to upload to Qik. Paul Webster, Paul H and I were feeding stuff from our Nokia phones to an event site, as you can see here. Anyway, I was pretty sure I could get a replay.

Simon has uploaded the presentation here explaining how Ruralnetonline has developed over the past ten years, and how the new developments are a reversal of their earlier strategy of a subscription-based walled garden.


Simon and Paul then gave me a quick recap of the presentation that they did. The big question, of course, is how to make this pay, since items like the newsletter and other content are free. Rualnetonline is to offer some premium charged-for services like the highly-successful Experts Online, and I think there will be substantial demand for custom developments.
What I think is exciting is the ability to build a system using free or low-cost tools; to put the emphasis on bottom-up content; to embrace the idea of distributed communities which I wrote about over here; to give users so many options on how to engage, and to do this in an open way that allows content to be linked to other sites.

I should declare an interest here: I’ve known Simon and the team pretty much since they started online, and they are partners in the Membership Project where we are exploring what social media may mean to membership organisations, and the notion of organising without organisations. However, I think I’m fairly dispassionate in believing that they are now ahead of the UK nonprofit/social enterprise field in the range of online services that they can provide. Or does anyone have other innovative examples? The good thing is, I know the people at Ruralnet would be glad to collaborate.

Oh yes, they do non-rural projects too through Networksonline. Technical note: the blogs are built using WordPress MU, with Drupal providing some other services.