#4 New Beginnings

Image of street sign with the eords "Time To Say Goodbye"

Having set the scene of this Blog within a famous goodbye (as depicted in the picture) – obvious for those born pre the millennium – (for those post millennia’s you will have to search the web for the connection!)

I am immediately drawn to my next task in hand. The task is taking the Good Beginnings part of Save The Children Australia Social Connect model to scale.

Part of this next stage of ‘scale’ is considering the action required to strategise and operationalise the creation of the For Social Purpose sector in Australia.

Overtime I anticipate this will lead to opportunities for the sharing/mentoring of information including digital options such as telelinks/webinars, and easy accessible bite size action learning to move the For Social Purpose agenda along.

Along with some valuable PhD writing time I look forward to sharing the three Social Connect principles (Financial; Interpersonal; Political). These assist with the positive disruption and necessary changes that are needed for the Australian Not For Profit sector. The purpose of this Blog is to share at this crucial point in time as I hand over the reins of Good Beginnings to become part of Save the Children Australia (1 July 2015) a little more clarity around the terms Social Connect and the For Social Purpose movement in Australia:

Social Connect & For Social Purpose

Being part of an emerging leadership framework Social Connect aims to describe the process of balancing the tensions between organizational structure and spontaneity.

Structure in adaptive organisations is defined by Marsh as ‘Exploitation’ (of old certainties) and spontaneity as ‘Exploration’ (of unknown possibilities).

Adaptive systems that engage in exploration to the exclusion of exploitation are likely to find they suffer the costs of experimentation without gaining many of its benefits….

Conversely, systems that engage in exploitation to the exclusion of exploration are likely to find themselves trapped in suboptimal stable equilibra. (Marsh 1991)

In his seminal work Marsh proposes that maintaining an appropriate balance between Exploitation and Exploration is a primary factor in system survival. I propose that it is achieving this balance or equilibrium that the concept of Social Connect is seeking to achieve.
Such a balance requires a level of organisation sophistication to ensure that the structure is robust enough to provide rigour and probity without inhibiting innovation and ownership. In the case of Social Connect the extreme ends of Exploitation and Exploration continuum need to be considered in any sector redesign.

When considering governance models of connection within the ‘For Profit’ sector this level of sophistication is often defined as an acquisition and/or merger. Conventional wisdom is beginning to discover that to consider the application of the ‘For Profit’ sector knowledge directly into the ‘Not For Profit’ sector may not be the answer and can suffer from short-termism.

I take this argument further by suggesting that the issue of how short-termism is mitigated against presents as a fundamental difference between success and failure. For example in the ‘For Profit’ sector there is a single result ie achieving profit as the focus no matter the complexity whilst in the ‘Not For Profit’ sector the focus is on achieving ‘purpose’ to change complexities.

The recent experience of Good Beginnings part of Save The Children Australia has not yet identified the answer but having landed on a continuum between Exploitation and Exploration I look forward to championing how the necessary balancing act can be achieved.
Long-term focus is key to setting the agenda for the Australia We Want!

For Social Purpose – eg #AustraliaWeWant

A long-term focus is much about a systemic change, which can be described as a conceptual shift from being ‘Not For Profit’ sector to For Social Purpose. Since its inception in 2010, such long-term focus has been led by the Community Council of Australia (CCA). Following the 2015 CCA Board Strategy discussions and AGM the CCA and its members are developing a policy platform for the future of the Australian charities and Not For Profit sector. The starting point is set to answer the question:

What kind of Australia do we want to live in and more importantly what is our role in achieving it?

Imagine an Australia where real innovation drives real innovation. Imagine an Australia where were more connected.

I conclude with congratulations and best wishes for all stakeholders involved in Good Beginnings part of Save the Children Australia – it may be a goodbye to many things but it is really just the beginning!

As part of this conclusion I also leave a call for action to everyone in the Not For Profit sector – to make sure there is some proactive action in your daily approach that moves any short term focus to being long term focus. I look forward to continuing to share my journey of the same with you all.



Photo – Final episode M*A*S*H (CBS TV series) broadcast 11/7/83

Marsh 1991 ‘Exploration and Exploitation in Organizational Learning’ Organization Science Vol. 2, No. 1, February p 71-87

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