#6 Engineering for social purpose

Image of "1+1+3" on blackboard in white chalk

1+1=3 what a great sum especially as it was presented as the master equation for the story of how Good Beginnings Australia became part of Save The Children Australia (1/7/15). This Blog introduces Phase Two of Social Connect using the #GoodSave Case study. Phase One and the importance of outcomes and the organization being collaboration ready was presented in my previous Consequences Blogs #3#4#5 (LinkedIn).

The Blog title in a small way describes the role I played as the outgoing CEO of Good Beginnings Australia and incoming architect of Social Connect – a platform set to describe the Australian For Social Purpose sector.

I describe my experience of #GoodSave as being more akin to a social engineer than entrepreneur. My reason is that most of the steps being taken were moving into unknown territory. Just like the engineers who played an important role in the machine advancement of the industrial era. We are currently at the cusp of a new era and one that is fast moving – the age of drastic distraction. The importance of social engineering or more colloquial description ‘joining up of the dots’ is best described as – one who skilfully arranges for something to occur!

Titles in some respect become irrelevant when the outcomes to be achieved have such a moral obligation and thus the equation 1+1=3 continues to be of prime importance in Social Connect. This equation is also what underpinned the decision of #GoodSave as a case study for merger and acquisition in the Not For Profit Sector.

This Blog shifts the focus from previous Blogs of Phase One of Social Connect ‘organisations being ready to collaborate’. The shift in focus moves to Phase two and introduces three breakthroughs that gatekeep Social Connect. Please note much of the #GoodSave equation is still being processed and therefore still as fragile as any scientific equation. There is much reflection and lessons to be gained for all including those involved and those watching from afar!

Phase two of Social Connect introduces three breakthroughs that gate keep Social Connect in the form of a key principle; a notable missing link and a confounding factor. This Blog will focus on the key principle – adequate resources.

The importance of adequate resources will not come as a surprise but its order of importance has recently been heightened. This is partly through my PhD research but is also mentioned in many other methodologies such as the Collective Impact Framework (1). The difference between the two is that in the Collective Impact Framework adequate resources are identified as the third pre condition whereas in my research it is first.

In addition the experience of #GoodSave demonstrates that adequate resources are integral to any successful collaboration. It is not necessarily about having more adequate resources but more about having adequate resourcesbeing used for the right outcome. In the case of #GoodSave when the Good Beginnings Australia Board were entering into the dialogue of growing outcomes instead of growing the oganisation an emerging strategy Mobilise 2026+. was agreed. From 2013 to 2015 (Social Connect Phase One) Good Beginnings Australia formulated its strategy for the next 10 years to follow on from the established Future 5 Strategy (due to conclude 2015-16). Once an organization is ready to collaborate the emergent direction must be agreed and in the case of Good Beginnings Australia it was presented in three leadership planks – (the hyperlinks below provide the evidence of how these leadership planks continue to be actioned):

  •  Leadership in participating in the proving of new planning and delivery models that force system change (Wellbeing of Children and Youth initiative)
  • Leadership in collaborating to influence policy decisions that impact on children’s wellbeing (NEST)
  • Leadership in participating in the development of new funding models that grow the system’s capacity (Impact Investing)

The first breakthrough and key principle of adequate resources is much more than increasing the numbers in the sum of 1+1=3. Albeit additional funds to increase resources are always welcomed it is more about how adequate resources are best maximized. in the case of the #GoodSave, Mobilise 2026+ and the three Leadership Planks a license for the organistation to consider what adequate resources were required was c constant point of reflection.

The key principle of adequate resources is not only important from the license point of view but in the #GoodSave case study there were two scenarios that are also worthy of a mention. The first is that of ‘streamlining of funds’. Although any streamlining of funds is a positive expectation from a Private Sector lens it is important to note that any expectation of financial gain from mergers and acquisitions is not always a given in the For Social Purpose sector. The focus in #GoodSave was on the benefits of the outcomes to be achieved with the streamlining of any funds being a secondary bonus.

The second scenario of the key principle adequate resources is the ‘starving of funds’ with a preference to not fall into this scenario. At its worst this scenario can be something where the intentions are for the deliverables to be the same but for reduced funds. In the #GoodSave case study a constant check on expectations was imperative. At one point the Good Beginnings Australia Board had been considering an environmental scan for possible partners to collaborate whilst in discussions with Save The Children Australia. A decision had to be made if a step into due diligence with Save The Children was to be made then there was not adequate resources to do both.

The Phase Two of Social Connect and first breakthrough and key principle of adequate resources formed a key part of assisting #GoodSave into the due diligence stage and beyond. The second breakthrough presents as a notable missing link that will be useful in defining the shift from Not For Profit status to For Social Purpose.
Until next time stay good!

References

Hanleybrown F, Kania J, Kramer ‘Channeling Change: Making Collective Impact work’ SSIR January 26 2012

Wellbeing of Children and Youth iniative www.goodbeginnings.org.au/family/wellbeing-of-children-youth-initiative/
NEST www.aracy.org.au/projects/the-nest

Impact Investing Australia www.impactinvestingaustralia.com

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