I have spent the past 8 years of my life being particularly focused on being good – especially having the role as CEO of an organisation with good in its Vision and Mission – Good Beginnings Australia!
Since earlier in July having merged Good Beginnings with Save The Children Australia (1 July 2015) I have been enjoying a sabbatical of reflecting and writing. As a result of this time I have started to refer to the merger experience in the form of a case study #GoodSave. In this Blog I plan to introduce #GoodSave and how it links with the Social Connect platform with a special reminder of the importance of the word ‘good’!
Last week I spent time on the panel of the Australian Scholarship Foundation, Origin Foundation and Centre for Social Impact reviewing the newly launched research project – Learning for Purpose www.originfoundation.com.au. The panel had a focus on ‘supporting good causes in education. A most important statistic from this report outlined the metric that for every $1 invested in professional development in the Not For Profit sector there was a $6 of value return – not that I need convincing but this surely makes a sabbatical even more worthwhile!
Although in sabbatical mode I am continuing to enjoy being a part of these progressive debates in the Australian Not For Profit Sector. This has been most exciting for me as I can still be ‘good’ outside my former CEO role! More importantly there are some important messages that I plan to share through the #GoodSave case study, Social Connect platform and the word ‘good’.
In a former LinkedIn Blog earlier this month I introduced the Emergence Continuum of the Social Connect platform and the extreme tensions between Exploitation and Exploration. Exploring the challenges of how to find the ‘good’ balance between organisational structure (Exploitation) and spontaneity (Exploration). The Social Connect Platform uses the Emergence Continuum as a useful guide in understanding emerging structures.
My plan is that #GoodSave becomes a useful case study to better understand collaborative emergence, especially as the Australian Not For Profit Sector considers future governance arrangements including mergers, acquisitions, alliances or new emergence platforms like Social Connect.
If I begin at the beginning of the #GoodSave journey I reflect on the use of the word ‘good’. Of course I did not make up this word but for quite sometime the word ‘good’ has been a useful global colloquium across the social sector. Jim Collins a decade ago and as part of his time at Stanford University realized that he had much to learn. Rather than simply transferring his business knowledge to the social sector he recognised there was a different dialogue to be held. To energise this debate he presented his thoughts in this book – Good to great and the Social Sectors – why business thinking is not the answer http://www.jimcollins.com/books/g2g-ss.html.
I’ve come to see that it is simply not good enough to focus solely on having a great business sector. If we only have great companies, we will merely have a prosperous society, not a great one. Economic growth and power are the means, not the definition, of a great nation (Collins 2005).
The Learn for Purpose panel discussions of last week highlighted that each sector needed the other and it was not necessarily the case of the Not For Profit sector becoming more like the private sector. As Colin’s confirmed:
That’s when it dawned on me: we need a new language. The critical distinction is not between business and social, but between great and good. We need to reject the naive imposition of the “language of business” on the social sectors, and instead jointly embrace a language of greatness. (Collins 2005)
Considering this interpretation of the word ‘good’ and new thinking of the social sector I introduce what I refer to as phase 1 of Social Connect. The first phase ofSocial Connect was definitely a defining moment for #GoodSave. This 1st phase is described as the organisation being ‘collaboration ready’.
What does that actually mean? Well for Good Beginnings Australia it meant having ‘purpose’ focused discussions at the Board level. The foundations for this had been laid way back in 2007 when an outcomes based reporting framework (Outcomes based accountability) was adopted across the whole organisation. 2013 was the first year of organization benchmarks being established and at that point able to influence decisions at the Board level. These discussions started to consolidate the organisation’s priorities thus confirming where the most effective collaborations needed to be nurtured and/or developed.
Discussions at the Board level were not only heightened by their ability to be ‘evidence informed’ but the Board began to consider a long-term strategy for Good Beginnings Australia which was focused on meeting its outcomes and moral obligation – not organisation growth. The dialogue became focused on growing the outcomes of the organisation not the organisation itself– an extremely important distinction of Social Connect.
At the same time another ‘good’ became of global interest and Stanford released a thought provoking article about how being good is not good enough http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/when_good_is_not_good_enough.This document was most useful in the Good Beginnings Australia strategy discussions between 2013-2014 and formed much of the strategic planning discussions.
…..successful nonprofit organizations argue that the sector needs to shift its attention from modest goals that provide short-term relief to bold goals that, while harder to achieve, provide long-term solutions by tackling the root of social problems (Shore et al 2013)
Both of the Stanford articles demonstrated global discussions encouraging organisations to consider the best way to meet outcomes with long-term considerations rather than immediate organisation results. In considering these articles the Good Beginnings Australia Board and Executive embraced new ground and entered into emergent strategy discussions. In 2014 the preparations for a ten year 2016 -2026 strategy began and mobilise 2026+ strategy and dialogue was created. (www.goodbeginnings.org.au).
Three leadership planks of Mobilise 2026+ provided a direction that led the Board to be very comfortable in exploring emerging collaborative options. The timing of the dialogue with Save The Children Australia was almost in parallel but separate to this dialogue. Good Beginnings Australia had to be ‘collaboration ready’ before any emerging opportunity could materialize. In the future, as I share the other phases of Social Connect I will further elaborate the role Mobilise 2026+ played in creating the opening for emergence.
The first phase of Social Connect was being open and ready for emergence and collaboration.
The key point to highlight for Phase 1 of Social Connect was that by being ready to collaborate and understanding that it may not be in the current form, or one that has previously been experienced, meant that as opportunities emerged they were easier to be considered.
The final thought I would like to share is going back to the word ‘good’ and not just because it plays a big part in the wording and case study #GoodSave! I hope you enjoy this ‘you tube clip’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c06eQKp_vQg
The clip challenges us all to be the change that we want to see. I hope ‘good’ is what guides the changes that need to occur in the Australian Not For Profit sector, especially as it becomes the For Social Purpose sector. The ability to make room for examples like #GoodSave must be on each organisation’s agenda. This does not mean a complete replica just being willing and prepared for being ‘collaboration ready’ is a ‘good’ first step.
Enjoy being ‘good’!
Learning for Purpose (2015) www.originfoundation.com.au
www.jimcollins.com (2005) Good to great and the Social Sectors – why business thinking is not the answer
www.ssireview.ord Shore et al (2013) When Good is not good enough
www.collective-evolution.com (2015) What is wrong with our culture Alan Watts