Social enterprise + entrepreneurship links from July

AlarmclocktimeCurrently, on my return to work, I am somewhere between B and C in the image to the left. Cleared the inbox (almost) yesterday, and now catching up on everything that's happened since I've been away.

To which the short answer is "far too much to put in one post". So I'm taking the easy / sensible way out, and posting up a load of the most interesting and relevant links during the last month that have passed through the inbox / twitter / etc Hopefully they are for you too.

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Social enterprise + social entrepreneur links of the week (June 2nd)

DoubthesitationEnjoyed this graph to the left, as it summed up either a) why social entrepreneurs are often prone to action (it removes doubt!) and b) how those waiting for potential cuts might feel as that wait continues….and in the interests of not hesitating here any longer, on with the round-up:

– First up, speaking of cuts, the Future Jobs Fund was first to go, realistically being much to early to decide whether it was a success or a failure; Peter Holbrook (of Social Enterprise Coalition) and Allison Ogden-Newton (of Social Enterprise London) both came out in strong defence of FJF on their blogs.

– The Big Society debates continue on twitter + blogs + pubs. Best recent contributions? I enjoyed Nat Wei's seabed-coral reef – fish analogy, Andy Westwood's take + constructive critique from the left, and Adil Abrar's practitioner's perspective . I also found it useful to get an outsider's view of it all, so check out Canadian social entrepreneur Al Etmanski on what he makes of all this (a "fork in the road worth watching")

– Scale seems to have been a theme this week as well. Whether it's Nat Whittemore writing about the lack of ambition in social entrepreneurs (prompting some debate in the comments!), Martin Brookes of ew Philanthropy Capital arguing for scaling up evidence-based solutions, not scaling out individual involvement, or Sally Osberg (of Skoll Foundation) writing on how social entrepreneurs can punch above their weight

– There was a good piece in the Guardian about CICs being used as a vehicle for water power investment

– Also in the Guardian, a piece on Lambeth Council (which we now have to follow with "The John Lewis Council" :0) ) which attracted some interesting and very informed comments

– Karl Wilding over at NCVO gave the best view so far of how the cuts might affect this sector

– There was much delight (though I'm not completely sure why) that the words "social enterprise" came out of the Queen's mouth

Grameen Bank is coming to Glasgow.

– Some interesting leadership moves as Social Enterprise Ambassadors Maria Donoghue-Mills and Matt Stevenson-Dodd both got new jobs at SCA and Street League respectively

– And on a final SSE note, there is now a list of all the SSE students / Fellows on Twitter (let me know if I've missed anyone….), and two SSE Liverpool students are up for Liverpool Woman of the Year. Please cast your votes for Claire Morgans or Pauline Pendleton, and congrats to both on the nominations.

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Cornwall SSE and Hampshire SSE: new videos!

A couple more videos to share with you all, from the Cornwall and Hampshire SSEs respectively.

The Cornwall video was shown at their recent graduation, and features interviews with the student social entrepreneurs as they come towards the end of their programme.

CSSE Animated Success from Matt Stent on Vimeo.

This Hampshire video features some of their social entrepreneurs on project visits, which is a key part of the SSE programme, giving the students a chance to not only hear from a social entrepreneur about how they've developed and grown their organisation, but to do so in an environment or at a location that brings that to life.

Hampshire School for Social Entrepreneurs from Shedlight on Vimeo.

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Russell L. Ackoff and the F-Laws of business

Since I recommended Peter Day's World of Business in my top 10 podcasts for social entrepreneurs, it's only become more relevant. In the past few weeks, the programme has covered the Salvation Army (once described by Peter Drucker as the most effective organisation in the world, in any sector), Project Alcatraz (or how a Venezuelan businessman became a social entrepreneur) and, most interestingly of all for me, the thoughts and learnings of the late Russell Ackoff, a management and business thinker.

Ackoff speaks much sense about a whole range of topics related to business and management, but I was particularly interested (given our work here at SSE) in his emphasis on learning. He's strong on the difference between teaching and learning (something which we still struggle at times to get across). He emphasises that an ability and willingness to learn are the keys to a successful organisation, and that one can only learn from doing something wrong (or making a mistake). Further, the best opportunities for learning come in the face of adversity or difficult times: perhaps we should reframe 2010 as "a great year of learning for the third sector". More seriously, this chimes exactly with our belief in learning-by-doing.

I particularly like his distinction between errors of commission and errors of omission. The former consist of doing something that should not have been done; the latter consist of not doing something that should have been done. Ackoff contends that errors of omission are much more serious, because they cannot be corrected or retrieved…they are lost opportunities; and that organisations fail more often because of what they do not do, rather than what they do. But this is not often reflected in practice, because it is only errors of commission (i.e. what has been done wrongly) that are recorded and noted, which tends to make people averse to risk and less prone to challenging the status quo. Which makes an entrepreneurial ethic all the more important in establishing, leading and working within an organisation.

I've added three Russell Ackoff books to the SSE bookshop:

Management f-Laws: how organisations really work

Turning Learning Right Side Up

A Little Book of f-Laws

You can also download a pdf of the latter for free from

Highly recommended.

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First 2010 round-up: Kershaw, Kingston, CICs and key moments

Alarmclocktime First post of 2010, the 419th on this blog, no less. And a welcome back to everyone; I've been delving back into the delights of some policy consultation responses (festive fare indeed), but more excitingly welcoming two US interns for the month of January as part of our long-standing arrangement with St Olaf College in Minnesota. Welcome Matt and Nick to the team, and I hope they will be blogging here soon.

SSE London is recruiting students as well, so do get in touch, or suggest us to people who you think might benefit from one of our learning programmes. Check out all the various bursaries + events….

To start the year, a quick round-up of relevant news and info:

Social enterprise features in the Archers shock (good work from the Plunkett Foundation….)

– Social enterprise ambassador and Big Issue Invest supremo Nigel Kershaw was awarded an OBE in the New Year's Honours list. Congrats to him, and also to John Kingston at Venturesome, and Margaret Lee of the Cresco Trust in Northern Ireland. See here for an article with more details

– The CIC regulator has acted following a consultation on the dividend caps in the structure; this means a change to 20% dividend (rather than 5% above base rate) and a 10% interest rate cap; if this kind of stuff fascinates you, you need to get out more you can check out more on Soc Ent Mag's website; this largely seems to be what the sector was calling for to encourage greater investment. Given that the consultation report (see here) demonstrates that two CICs have paid a dividend in the last four years (total of £4500), it may be that the interest rate cap is the more telling of the two changes.

– Nat Whittemore did a great round up of the key moments of the social entrepreneurship decade towards the end of the year: do you agree? What would be the ones for the UK? I like the top 10, although how the latecoming Office of Social Innovation, with its (relatively) paltry funds and three men and a dog staff team make it in, I'm not sure :0) Nat also did his top 10 most viewed posts of 2009, which is well worth checking out; Rob Greenland's top 10 is a good read too if you're as snowed in as we look likely to be here

– As our (one) policy head over here, the first half of the year is going to be election-heavy for me, so was interested to see the Conservatives first foray into the NHS zone, with its mini-draft manifesto. ACEVO reckon that the promised move to personal budgets will create a "market for small social entrepreneurs"

Can the 'John Lewis' model be applied to public services? Well, they did well over Christmas….

– We covered the HCT / Unite row a little bit at the end of the year; it's widened out more into a social enterprise / unions row; and where there's a social enterprise debate to be had, you'll find Rod Schwartz with a large wooden spoon, stirring and provoking: Are Social Enterprises Different When It Comes To Industrial Relations?

– Finally, Ben Metz + friends are trying to organise an unconference-y type fringe event to the Skoll World Forum in Oxford in a few months. If you think you'd like to get involved in OxJam 10, and support what could be a great networking / practice sharing event for social entrepreneurs, sign up to the pledge here. We have!

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