One of the most inspiring parts of being a social enterprise is the word social. We are social beings and more often than not, better together rather than apart.
We live in a world which it is encouraged for us to be in competition with each other – we have a culture in which we are told that this is a healthy way to grow, to develop and to move forward.
We watch television programmes such as The Apprentice and Dragon’s Den where people are vying for the attentions of “successful” business leaders and their money – which in turn makes us, as the viewing audience, little more than spectators in a gladiatorial battle.
But what if we change the parameters of what success means? What if we change that paradigm so success is in fact based on how we change people’s lives and the environment for the better?
For those who run social enterprises, this I think is at the core at how we measure success. Sure, money helps to make us grow, however money is not at the forefront of what we do.
So on to my main point…. If we’re not in a fight to the death with our peers in the business world, doesn’t this allow for more opportunities to work together?
The benefits of collaboration, in my opinion, far outweigh of those of competition. Imagine belonging to a network with an endless pool of experience, skills and resource – where together we can address problems and issues without having to think about how we can look good and how we PR ourselves to the max.
This week I had the opportunity to attend a conference run by Nesta about the Social Value of a collaborative economy. I was particularly struck by the number of innovative social enterprises wanting to make a positive change in a variety of different ways (which alone could provide enough content for another blog). I also liked the spirit of collaboration that drove innovation. It was great to hear from the governance of large cities from across Europe testify how collaboration has helped create a robust democracy which allowed their citizens shape the policy decisions. If you'd be interested to hear more
Antoinette Guhl is the deputy mayor of Paris whose governance so believed in the power of collaboration and participation, that they invested 500 million Euros to give the city’s citizens to shape its future.
How About? wants to help create a collaborative environment in their local community of St Austell by bringing together social enterprises, community groups and other businesses – and through action research – identify and address issues in the local community and strive to make a positive social impact by doing so.
So if you are part of the Cornish community or even wider and would be interested more about this – then please let us know and keep an eye on the website and social media channels.
Finally, I’d like to leave you with a quote from Rajesh Agrawal, the deputy mayor of London:
“It’s all about collaboration, not competition”
Couldn’t agree more.