Category Archives: Explanations

New: Social Impact Measurement Toolbox

Our friends at Social Enterprise East of England have just launched a new social impact measurement tool. We like it.

SIMbox image and web link
Discover more here…

The SEEE toolkit has six distinct sections, designed to help smaller organisations to understand their impact. By methodically gathering evidence, reflecting on it and transposing the information into useful data presentations.

Giving the information and responses, which we all collect in the social business sector, an organised and accessible face.

Using the toolkit you will work through themes around information collection, engagement, conversations, outcomes, data processing and organised planning and dissemination.

The toolkit is not free, but your licence enables up to five people in the organisation to collaborate and contribute to process. As well have access to all the worksheets you create on the toolbox system to move your information project forward.

You can discover more here: https://seeeimpactbox.co.uk/

Helping you to present your impact in an organised, clear way – the SEEE SIM Toolbox.


You can discover more development tool kits on our web pages here

SocEntEasMids logo image and web link

Social Innovation Strategy in UK Social Enterprises

Our partnership was pleased to make a contribution to a research project recently, which sought to define what and how Social Innovation practices improve the social innovation culture of UK Social Enterprises.

The research project, was realised through the joint intellectual energy of Dr. Maria Granados, a senior lecturer in Innovation in the School of Management & Marketing at the University of Westminster and Iraci João-Roland, an Assistant Professor at the Federal University of Sao Paulo in Brazil.

Discover more here…

You can discover the interim findings, Social Innovation Strategy in UK Social Enterprises, ahead of the full publication of an academic report, here.

The core assumptive definition of Social Innovation for the project was that of ”...a novel solution to a social problem that is more effective, efficient, sustainable, or just than existing solutions and for which the value created accrues primarily to society as a whole rather than private individuals”. (Source: Phills et al., 2008, p. 36)

Some of the key findings of interest to us clearly reflected our experience of SocEnt development and community business/community development processes in the past.

 

  • Community is the source of the innovative process…

 

  • Design thinking stimulates the search for solutions through experimentation and quick action, is iterative, is based on collaborative work and facilitate the involvement of users (beneficiaries), who are the centre of the innovative process.

 

  • The agile method facilitates the communication and integration between several actors involved in the innovation process by dividing the project into stages.

 

  • Using the knowledge, competency, partners and relationships that already exist in the SE is a viable option to encourage innovative activities.

(This latter implication is in fact the basis of our project delivery at SocEntEastMids – we share the knowledge and expertise for free at the point of engagement…Ed.)

  • Alignment between employees’ personal interest / belief and social enterprise mission and dual role of client and employee are a powerful booster for intra-preneurship.

(For us, again, culture and mission are irrevocably intertwined…Ed).

Finally, we were both delighted and surprised to see the modest size of the innovatory organisations included and the durability of their projects. Fourteen years of age was the average.

We understand the research team are still open to engagement from the UK SocEnt sector regarding the process of social innovation. (See contact details in the report above.)

Long, may the innovation last!

How to speak? We all know that…!

Update 15th November 2020

We really liked this analysis of Guy Kawasaki’s 10-20-30 rule for business pitches. The original article, published by Amardeep Parmar in the Entrepreneurs Handbook, nicely captures a 10 point plan for pitching your business idea.

Originally framed for corporate tech entrepreneurs, don’t be put off. The concepts can also hold good for social enterprises thinking of pivoting all or part of their business to reflect new circumstances.  New community businesses responding to the request ‘…come and tell us about your project/business idea‘ will find the simple brevity useful, we would argue. Particularly if you are having a ‘where do we start’ moment!

Discover your convincing ten point plan here.


Original skills development content:

This is a film about the art of the presentation. It can help you to acquire the skill in assembling your knowledge, the making of a telling argument to convince your audience about your community project, your funding renewal or your pending impact investment, amongst many possible goals.

Delivered last year (2019) by the late Professor Patrick Winston at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT), it is ostensibly for would be academic scientists. But there is much to discover about your own existing skill set, your preconceived ideas about your audience and it also delivers challenging ways to maximise your effectiveness.

We watched it in the office, as part of an exercise to think about refreshing the ways we use to pitch, for a new project we have coming up.

We winced as we realised we had delivered ‘death by PowerPoint’ sessions in the past, and some of us had allowed our purple prose to even cross the whiteboard, cross the meeting room and exit out into the car park.

Professor Winston was sharing a life time of thought. We think everyone will find something in it…

Source: Originally published as part of the MIT OpenCourseWare programme.


How to write well and effectively?

This filmed lecture, from the University of Chicago by Larry McEnerney, is about writing for the real world. It is delivered in accessible language and the key ideas have real relevance for writing in the Social Enterprise/Social Impact sector.

 

For McEnerney ‘writing in the real world’ can involve the use of jargon, being able to identify your readers, clarity of purpose and the use of the written word ‘to change the world’. He also has some interesting takes on the process of being paid to write.

Practical examples of the techniques and the understanding of your text start at around the 20 minute mark.

Speak well, write well, pitch well – improve the reach of your project, your idea or your community ambitions.

Source: First publ. 2015, as part of the UChicago Social Sciences Leadership Lab programme


Social Enterprise – the European context

A new edition of Social Enterprises and their Eco-systems in Europe is now available on the Europa web pages.

This cross-national look at social enterprise is a profoundly useful narrative for individuals, or community actors, who are interested in exploring, not only the deployment of governance forms, but also to understand the philosophical approach to social enterprise development, across time and geography.

Get your copy here…(pdf)

You can download the UK analysis here. It provides the diligent reader with definitions of a SocEnt, and the governance forms currently used by UK enterprises with a social mission.

The work is strong on the historical context of SocEnt development in the UK, as well as offering a critique of the fiscal, governance and research frameworks that do, and will, affect the development of community focused enterprise in the future.

The document also contains a useful set of appendices, that offer insights into stakeholders at national level, a governance form comparison and quick reference guide, as well as a set of references for the text that are an ideal for ‘more reading’.

This ‘Country Document’ from Europa.eu is written by Fergus Lyon, Bianca Stumbitz and Ian Vickers. It deserves to be in your SocEnt development tool kit, we think.


MRA Associates, in their freely available knowledge base, have an interesting and informing article about registered societies, which those exploring new governance forms for social business may find useful.

See more here: https://www.mrassociates.org/knowledge-base/specified-accommodation/cat-1-exempt-accommodation/tell-me-more-about-registered-societies


Forward to 2020

Looking for a bright future…

In our last post we reflected on time passed and have turned our attention to the future, thinking about organisational development in our social business for 2020.

We read a post on Medium recently, from an executive guru which decried, as a management technique, the announcing of your plans…lest you stumble and they all come to nought. (All business is risk, even a ‘social’ one!…Ed)

We have thought about this too, and have come to the decision, given the ubiquity of the internet and new media, that laying out plans, even those not fully ready for complex delivery yet, is a sound way to make contact with like-minded community actors and organisations. Our own motives and action plan are below…

Inspirational Beginnings

We have attended this year ((2019) a number of events organised by the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES), in both Liverpool and London. Designed to create awareness of, and engagement with, the Community Wealth Building (CWB) agenda. In this aim Neil McInroy and his highly skilled team, have been highly effective.

This engagement has started us thinking about how CWB can be energised to reach the micro and small community facing social businesses or organisations across our region.

It is clear from the recently published documents below, that this community mercantile sector is clearly woven into the multivariate practice, target segments and policy focus of the CWB change matrix.

Key Documents for Strategic Development

CLES have recently published both Community Wealth Building 2019 – theory practice and next steps, as well as a Manifesto for Local Economies.  you can view, print or download both these key documents below…

View, print or download

Community Wealth Building 2019 is a profoundly important document in contextualising local action, policy change and in illuminating the tried and tested, as well as emerging methodologies of change in CWB practice.

Whilst recognising that the new (CLES) Centre for Excellence, funded by the Barrow Cadbury Trust, has a primary focus on Local Authority/governmental policy issues for securing the largest change and development ‘hit’ possible, we think that the same concepts of CWB and the intellectual change mechanisms involved can equally be applied to the small marginalised communities and, importantly, rural England.

 

View, print or download…

The Manifesto for Local Economies contains the building blocks of an exciting new CWB landscape. We do not see any of its elements as revolutionary, but rather see the policy and delivery skein exposed in the document as a progressive, moral and inclusive agenda for the individual, the company/charity, the region and government to embrace.

What The Manifesto calls for is an inclusive, fair and ownership diverting programme of change. It does not decry or deny capital, the market or the organisation – it refocuses them to broad community benefit.

We subscribe to the vision.

The action plan – the micro-contribution

  • To maintain and continue to consolidate activity with our clients for SocEntEastMids in the six counties region of its published focus – free delivery of support, advice and resources for the creation of  socially useful enterprise.

 

    • A new brand and energy for change
  • To create a new brand/web site of focus and delivery mechanism, based in Cambridge UK, to engage with rural communities in England around some key elements of the CWB agenda.

 

  • To scope and deliver this rural enterprise support across The Midlands, East Anglia, Lincolnshire etc., where rural enterprise is, arguably, remote from the national policy debate and one to one encouragement is thinly spread.

 

  • To develop a programme of work, addressing community facing organisations – developing focused CWB agenda items to the unique, particular and social landscapes of our chosen geography.

 

  • To develop a cost recovery mechanism for external speakers and critical advice, event attendance etc., whilst still delivering our core elements of free advice, web and communication services – with any surplus created directed to support our sister delivery at SocEntEastMids, as is normal for our Partnership. To help maintain the sustainability of the programme.

 

  • To focus our Muntjac energy initially on a Enterprise Change Hub, development of Community Banking networks, and Employee Ownership advice and change support. This latter may well spill over into help in creating partnerships, employee owned businesses, co-operatives, measuring impacts for baseline and business plans etc.

 

  • To make Cambridge a ‘go to’ place for CWB in the rural environment. (We have large car parks…Ed).
Spiky, yet endearing …excuse the pun!

The Muntjac is a persistent, pervasive and spiky creature in the rural environment. We like them.

Our strategy and delivery for the CWB programme, although modest, will hopefully develop the same profile.

If you would like to be part of a new CWB initiative in the rural East, do use our site contact facilities and have an opening conversation with Tim.

Revisiting our Social Business theory…

 

Yunus Social Business – humanising the enterprise…

We have attended a number of events and meetings recently, across the six counties of the East Midlands, where the nature of our business has been, occasionally,  in focus. We have returned and sought to reflect on our engagement with clients, partners and our own team.

We define our core  Partnership in Cambridge as a Social Business, and cleave to the seven principles delineated in the book Building Social Business – the prime mover for us is to try and do things ‘…with joy’. (We also underscore the Nolan Principles in our work too…Ed.)

Of course, there are more significant enterprise impacting elements to the theories of Professor Muhammad Yunus, whose book defines our work. For our Partners the energy we expend is not for creating vast personal wealth – we use, we believe, enterprise skills and good governance to foster enough revenue to maintain our infrastructure, our tool-kits, human and technical, and then seek to deploy any surpluses to fund the delivery of pro-bono support to individuals and community organisations and actors where we can.

SocEntEastMids and our clients, is a good example of this, as is our book business Books go Walkabout.

What has struck us is how our conversations have changed so little in the last twenty years or so. We talk in the office still of humanity, warmth, empathy, understanding and transparent process – all emotional responses to business propositions perhaps, but never forgetting that it is the business process and back office that fosters and provides for the projects that seek to develop our Social Business aims and achievements. No matter how modest they may be in the grand scheme  of things.

The short video above, from Yunus socialbusiness, is, in effect, a declaration for system change and the humanising of the enterprise, we believe. A moderation of raw capitalism that is perhaps seeing the emergence of ‘its time’. It is not isolated by geography or place, the same principles should apply in a remote rural area or the heart of a city, whatever the continent.

Whether we define it as emergent social enterprise, social business, a co-operative or a genuinely employee owned business – the Yunus principles should all be in play, within this context of understanding and change.

We were challenged recently, in our twitter feed, by a member of the ‘twitterati’ that our position was hopelessly idealistic. Perhaps this is true, but as is made clear in the video exposition above, it is better to aspire to selflessness than to selfishness we would argue.

I was elected recently to join the Board of a regional charity, and was able to accept the onerous duty with delight. As part of the process I attended a staff workshop on Loneliness and Isolation. The stats indicating the demand for this service were challenging.

None the less, part of the group tasks were to develop an understanding of ‘the five ways to well-being’. They are Connect | Be Active | Take Notice | Keep Learning | Give.

Not a bad five point mantra for socio-economic change actors in communities too – we thought. Hopelessly idealistic or not…


This article is a personal reflection by Tim Smith MA, FRSA – A Managing Partner at SmithMartin LLP, custodian of SocEntEastMids interests.

Human capital estimates, UK: 2004 to 2017

The Office for National Statistics has just released updated estimates of the value of human capital. For ONS ‘… the stock of human capital accounts for what skills people have and how much they earn and what qualifications they have, as well as estimating how much longer they will continue to work’.

As such, ONS argues, the value of human capital is often higher in younger workers, which have more years in the labour market ahead of them.

We can look to the historical writings of Adam Smith for the source of the concept for Human Capital, but we owe the the modern Chicago School of economists for this contemporary application of the theory, we would argue.

Human Capital Data icon and web link
View data here

View, download or print the tables containing the ONS data for this report here.

(Spreadsheet in ODS format).

This modern theory was popularized by Gary Becker, an economist and Nobel Laureate from the University of ChicagoJacob Mincer, and Theodore Schultz. However, more recently the new concept of task-specific human capital was coined in 2004 by Robert Gibbon, an economist at MIT, and Michael Waldman, an economist at Cornell. The concept emphasises that in many cases, human capital is accumulated specific to the nature of the task (or, skills required for the task), and the human capital accumulated for the task are valuable to many firms requiring the transferable skills.

The new ONS report delineates the following key estimates…

  • In cash terms the stock of human capital in the UK grew 1.8%. However, once the effects of inflation were removed human capital actually fell by 0.8%. This was the first fall in human capital stocks since 2012, reflecting slower growth in earnings relative to inflation.
  • In 2017, the UK’s ‘real’ full human capital stock was £20.4 trillion, more than 10 times the size of UK GDP.
  • The estimates highlight that in 2004 the pay premium for obtaining a degree was 41% but by 2017 this had fallen to 24%.
  • The ONS analysis also shows that between 2011 to 2017 the average stock of individuals over 35 grew by 7.0%, while the stock of those between 16 and 35 only grew by 3.6%.

We recently published  The Size of the UK Social Enterprise in 2018 – if we believe, as we do,  that the social economy is now a significant influencer of UK trade and business development – then it is pertinent to note that the value of ‘real’ gross human capital is ten times more than GDP.

The social economy must, therefore be a contributor to this value.

Also of note, is the fact that in terms of human capital, according to ONS, … the average stock of individuals over 35 grew by 7.0%, while the stock of those between 16 and 35 only grew by 3.6% over the focus period.

Continue reading Human capital estimates, UK: 2004 to 2017

Social Insecurities and Resilience

View, print or download a pdf copy here...download link and cover image
View, print or download a pdf copy here…

Eurofound publications on the quality of life inside Europe, offer profound insights into the global ‘state of the nation’ on matters that affect the individual, society and economy.

Social Insecurities and  Resilience, the latest policy brief to be published, highlights how insecure even those perceived as comfortable and secure can be, across Europe.

Eurofound (2018), Social insecurities and resilience, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg. (.pdf)

Authors: Hans Dubois and Tadas Leončikas

Whether being old and feeling exposed when out after dark, or in full employment but doubting that the employment will continue beyond six months hence, the report offers a defining argument for the deployment of economic and social initiatives that put people, their sense of well being and compassionate economic energy at the heart of government thinking.

It is interesting that even across international borders, within Europe, the similarities in unease and concerns are duplicated across communities, whatever their defining local language.

‘Most of the insecurities reviewed in this policy brief have an economic component but are influenced by other factors too. For instance, perceptions of housing insecurity are influenced by tenant protection law, perceptions of old-age income insecurity are influenced by long-term care provision, and perceptions of healthcare insecurity are influenced by the presence or absence of healthcare coverage’.

The significance of having a ‘secure’ life is widely recognised. The United Nations’ 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights tells us that everyone has the right to ‘security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his (or her) control’ (Article 25).

In the key findings of the report it is stressed that ‘…only 1% of the EU population enjoys the highest level of security in all five types of social insecurity studied in this brief: personal, housing, healthcare, employment and old-age income. If more types were added, there might be nobody in the EU who feels free of any form of social insecurity’.

The five key measures of insecurity that the report comparatively assesses are…

  • personal insecurity – of being personally unsafe (from crime, for instance)
  • housing insecurity – of losing one’s home
  • healthcare insecurity – of being unable to afford healthcare
  • employment insecurity (for those in employment) – of losing one’s job and
    being unable to find a new one
  • old-age income insecurity – of not having an adequate income in old age

In their policy summary the report authors point out that government and state actors in the provision of services ‘…should be careful not to underestimate how widespread feelings of social insecurity are, especially more moderate forms. These may be early indicators of problems, so preventative policy-making should try to detect better, more
muted levels, as well as higher levels of insecurity’.

This report attempts a broad assay of community feelings across Europe. No small scoping exercise in itself, but when executed as here, then it provides a wealth of evidence and support for the argument that the social enterprise model should become the defining economic and civitas service provision model.

We would argue!

The size of UK Social Enterprise in 2018?

Hidden Revolution, social enterprise - cover image and web link

View, print or download this SocEnt UK report here…pdf

The answer?

  • 100,000 SocEnt businesses
  • 2 million employees
  • Generating £60 billion of UK GDP

Source: Hidden Revolution – Size and Scale and Social Enterprise in 2018

A report by Social Enterprise UK

Perhaps no more words are needed…well maybe not!

  • 12% of social enterprises are led by someone from the BAME community.
  • 50% of social enterprises have developed a new product or service in the last 12 months.

Taking our sector mainstream?

We are mainstream!

 

Sowing the idea

With the weather getting a little cooler and wetter, now is the time to turn to cultivation, at last. In this short article, you can find some ideas, concepts and web links to help you craft your project ideas  for a social enterprise in the hope that it flowers into reality.

Seedbed notes for a socent - image and web link
Grab our notes here (pdf)

Our notes are broad picture elements for discussion and sparking ideas.

No-one knows your community, group or collection of committed individuals for the project like you do!

You might be creating an agenda for the discussion of first principles, using the notes as a talk to support your work or pulling out some key concepts so that you can explain them to your group or community.  We hope that our notes help?

We would certainly use the content, and distribute copies, if you asked us to speak about your project at an event or a meeting. That way, conceptual information becomes grounded knowledge at the local level, we would argue.

If you embraced all the techniques and tools linked to in the narrative perhaps the noise would drown out the signal.

On the other hand, we have utilised the thinking of everyone from the technical focus of the United Nations, the depth of experience at Social Enterprise UK, to the business ‘nous’ of the Harvard Business Review.

It’s sometimes difficult not to sound ‘preachy’, when discussing first principles. That is not our intent. Rather, to use our notes, and the issues to come, to establish some sound footings for everyone to embrace, on every step of the enterprise journey.

If you have yet to take your first community group ‘conceptual’ step into the ‘seed-bed’, we hope you find something here.

As always, if we can help, just ask us.