Social Innovation Thought Leadership

As connections to others (and to knowledge and perspective) accelerates due to global internet connectivity, my eyes have been opened and I’m constantly scanning for dots to inform, guide, engage, educate and to stimulate my intellect — and to ultimately connect.

One such dot hit me while reading Jeff Clavier’s post that the Stanford Center for Social Innovation (SCSI) podcast ‘channel’ is debuting tonight on Doug Kaye’s Conversation Networks’ Social Innovation Conversations channel.

Big ideas, important research, thought leaders, conversation, debate, teaching and action is the focus of SCSI and much of this will undoubtedly emerge through the content delivered by the Social Innovation Conversations (and other venues). As SCSI states on their About page:

“Through research, teaching and engagement, CSI works with socially concerned leaders and their organizations to confront difficult challenges. The Center leverages Stanford’s knowledge, expertise and networks, bringing community leaders together with our faculty, alumni and students to illuminate and address social problems. The Center undertakes an integrated set of activities designed to enhance the leadership, management, and organizational capacity of individuals and organizations who strive to create social and environmental value.”

Vision, knowledge and conversation is interesting but meaningless without action which begs the question:Why should you care?

  • If you’re a leader in business, understanding how open source business/software/value models may disrupt your profitability and future growth would be good, wouldn’t it? How about understanding how your organization fits within the whole ecosystem of your community, State, the globe and what it takes to be a more socially conscious company? What about deeply understanding the drivers that are motivating, engaging, delighting and compelling your customers and your employees?
  • The political understanding is probably obvious, but let me take it somewhere else: if you’re a political leader you govern everyone…not just your base, your party, or some narrowly defined affiliation. The layers of complexity as people connect are already amazing and unprecedented and one such example is the rapidly growing CivicSpace open source project built on Drupal. It’s not only a platform for grass-roots organizations to have a Web asset and presence, but the interconnection of the deployments are where it will shine.

Imagine if the collective, focused energy of any given base of constituents are connected and they swarm, become a smart mob at conventions or protests, and bring their collective power to bear on issues, candidates, and the agendas of those that govern in a myriad of new ways. It’s happening right now and those candidates or people governing that ignore or dismiss the smouldering embers of social innovation deserve the surprise and fright that will come when these embers explode into a bonfire.

  • The non-profit sector‘s success is predicated on the notion that the organization is responsive to the will, energy and wisdom of some set of collective minds. As Centers like Stanford make access to thought leadership easier than ever before in history, it already is increasingly difficult for many non-profits to be relevant as their collective minds are stimulated by ever-greater thoughts and guidance at-their-fingertips.

The other issue facing non-profits is the increasingly obvious inefficiency and redundancy in approach, focus and outreach to the same relative base of people. In my own research into community and affinity groups, I’ve been stunned by how many have similiar and analogous value propositions and are seemingly re-inventing the wheel over-n-over again. Just like the for-profit sector, non-profits need to understand competitive advantage (though “enabling advantage” is probably more apt) and partnering to achieve their goals.

Understanding all you can about social change, it’s acceleration, how business and value creation models are fundamentally shifting, the shift in collective consciousness and awareness, and how to keep what you or your organization does relevant in a time of accelerating change is one way the center and the conversations channel will most likely prove to be an incredible resource.

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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Connecting the Dots Podcast

Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.