July 31, 2009

stupid answers to stupid questions!

Filed under: life... — benmetz @ 12:22 pm

I was recently sent this link to an interview that the wonderful Ana Teresa Silva from IM Magasine did with me back in December 2008 at the final EQUAL conference.

My stupid answers to her stupid questions!  Thoroughly enjoyable and worth a laugh!

And yes, I do still want the superpowers of The Human Torch from the Fantastic Four!!!

flame on


July 19, 2009

Sarah Dodds Enterprise Accelerator – summer interns are go!

Filed under: life..., projects — benmetz @ 9:37 pm

It’s been a while coming – lots of skype calls, reading of CV’s, interviews, discussions with projects – but finally I can say our SDEA interns are go!

Jessica Shortall, Paul Cheng from Venturesome and myself have been looking after the fund that’s been established in memory of our good friend Sarah Dodds who tragically died in a cycling accident last year.

We’ve got four interns engaged across a range of projects this summer, three of whom are now up and running.

Alexandru, mid-way through his MBA at INSEAD, is working with Cath at Unpackaged to further develop her local as possible – organic as possible – unpackaged as possible grocery store as well as looking for strategies to replicate and scale her organisation to multiple locations.

Jonathan, fresh from his MBA at the Said Business School in Oxford,  is working with Worn Again to introduce Management Information Systems as well as scope and improve their supply chains.

Meredith, also mid-way through her MBA at INSEAD, is working with me to structure and make sense of the SDEA fund. She’ll be diving in on other projects we come up with too!

Janet, who is just finishing her MBA at the Judge Institute at Cambridge, will be starting to develop a strategic plan for Blue Ventures, the marine conservation organisation based in London and working in Madagascar, as they continue to develop and grow.  She’ll be starting in August.

Throughout their time working with the projects we’ll be holding regular monday dinners for everyone involved to socialise and learn from each other as well as for interested people to come and get involved.  If you are interested then drop me a line…

July 16, 2009

Social Innovation Exchange in Lisbon – in need of a framework?

Filed under: life..., projects — benmetz @ 3:09 pm

We are about halfway through the SIX summer school in Lisbon and I thought I’d catch my breath to flag up one theme that’s emerging from conversations and break out groups (well for me at least).

What do you get if you put 100 social innovators in a room?  A complete melting pot of ideas conceived or operating on a myriad of different levels, across the broadest range of sectors and with the greatest plethora of needs in order to move on and deliver value.  This is the overwhelming observation I’ve picked up in the day and a bit of the summer school so far.

So what’s needed to make sense of this?  And do we even need to make sense of it?

While it’s a great opportunity to listen and learn from a range of great thinkers and practitioners, and to steal from and contribute to some great work, I feel compelled to dampen the buzz and impose some structure to help us place ideas and initiatives in a framework that allows for comparison and thus healthy cross-fertilisation.

Maybe I’m a control freak but let’s use this summer school to identify and collectively embrace frameworks that support us all in comparing apples with apples rather than apples with UFO’s from a different dimension…

One framework that springs to mind is the Volans authored five-stage articulation of their “pathways to scale” process.  Understanding where an idea fits within the continuum articulated as Eureka, Experiment, Expansion, Ecology and Economy provides one way to understand where an idea is in its stage of development.  So suddenly we can learn from ideas next to us and just in front of us on this continuum.

Another framework was presented by Geoff Mulgan of the Young Foundation yesterday afternoon, identifying stages of development of social innovations that struck me a a useful framework to think about change.  First potential is identified, next this potential is tested, then it’s proven in practice and once proven it begins to learn from interaction in the world and adapts accordingly (gleaned from a paper written by Geoff called the process of social innovation).

Perhaps if we collectively instilled some discipline in identifying where we and our ideas are placed along such theoretical frameworks then we’d be able to make better use of our time together?  Or would such common language, frameworks, processes and theories squeeze the serendipity and inspiration out of such gatherings???

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