Why We All Need a Sense of Connectedness

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By Servane Mouazan 

“There is nothing more negligent than attempting to address a problem one finds on a branch than by censoring the leaves.” 

Saul Williams

I was asked one day: why do you talk about a “sense of connectedness”? Isn’t it about your networking skills? Get good contacts for your business, know when and where to show up, and grow your business with all the knowledge, the wisdom and the opportunities you have gathered?

There’s that… and much more.

In 2008, a talk I attended in London during International Women’s Rights Day totally shifted my views. The guest was Angela Davis, the human rights and political activist, a professor in philosophy, and the founder of Critical Resistance, an organization working to abolish the prison-industrial complex.

Back in the 70s, as a leader of Communist Party in the USA and the Black Panthers Party, she was branded a terrorist and was sent to jail, for being allegedly associated with a crime. Her friends and supporters did manage to keep her campaign in the limelight, and worked tirelessly through hundreds of committees in the US and abroad to get her released. This fight became an important milestone in the fight against racism, which is sadly still largely unresolved.  

Why did she touch me?

Something in particular caught my attention. When Diane Abbott MP, who interviewed her, asked her: “What kept you going all this time?” She said: “Remember I wasn’t the one demonstrating on the streets, I was behind bars. What kept me going is knowing that I was connected. What kept me going, is that our message was out there. What kept me going is that sense of connectedness”.

The penny dropped. Despite all the tireless Angela Davises in the world, we still have to fight so many campaigns today, injustices, the regression of civil liberties, the mis-distribution of wealth, the persistent racism, sexism, the consistent pillage of resources and the list goes on… But I understand that if you combat these issues separately, without understanding systems and connections, you end up like King Sisyphus endlessly rolling a huge boulder up a steep hill, letting it roll down, and start all over again. Not worth the back pain.

What do you learn from this and why is it important in your day-to-day practice?

Growing a sense of connectedness is an act of bravery, humility, and generosity.

Growing a sense of connectedness is about letting go of your intentions to fix things straight away.

I am hearing: “How do you measure connectedness?”

Make a rough start by defining the way you interact with people and how you build relationships to achieve mutual goals.

But don’t go yet. That was the easy part.

Here’s what I learned from Dr Davis:

  1. When you work to solve a social issue, you have to understand the complexity of that ecosystem.  Remember that you are often seeing an issue through your own internal filters. And as good willed as we might be, we are all heavily biased.
  2. The minute your campaign gets out there, any people involved closely or remotely, will carry the message based on how it resonates with them. The campaign, the cause, doesn’t belong to you anymore. (A bit like an art work, when it is out there, you have to accept that its meaning, and interpretation, is not locked and cast in stone.)
  3. Immerse yourself: invest some time in exploring the problem you are trying to resolve. Start by shadowing as many people in their environment as you can. Listen to them, read about their issue. Investigate the issue without interfering, without judging, without blaming. And if you are touched by the problem, seek support to deconstruct and articulate the circumstances you are in. It can be a non-judgmental friend, a coach, a mentor or a therapist if you can afford/access one.
  4. Practice great questioning: open questions, non-judgmental questions, silence! This is where your coaching skills can be very valuable!
  5. At every step of the way, you have to accept that your biases and your background are heavily filtering your understanding of the situation. You will NEVER know how it feels to be homeless, unless you have been homeless. You will never know how it feels to be attacked, until you have been attacked. You will never know how humiliating it can be to be given charity, until you have been in a situation of mental or physical deprivation. And these are only a few examples.
  6. Growing a sense of connectedness is accepting that you don’t know and being in a perpetual mode of searching, challenging black and white solutions, or half-baked study headlines. It is about accepting that solutions are never perfect and the closest they can be to perfect is limited by time and space. However growing your empathy is a key to reach better connectedness. Listen to Brene Brown explaining her definition of empathy.
  7. A sense of connectedness is seeing patterns and relationships before they even take place or where they might have been “misplaced”. It’s being pulled by the final desired outcomes and capturing the tiniest details that can trigger the wildest change! Cassi Robinson, co founder of The Point People, explains it beautifully here in an article about the “networked mindset”.
  8. It is about opening yourself to your deepest vulnerabilities and starting from ground zero. (Read how I did it here, page 26-27) Can you look into the mirror and say: how about I start doing what I am preaching? How about I practice self-care in a way that will make me less of a jerk with others, less misaligned, less fed up, or less overwhelmed? How about I start to be more like the person I want people to enjoy being with and learning from. How about I get things done in a way that is good enough and inclusive enough, and totally connected with the rest (including me)?

And finally, how about knocking on your neighbours’ door?

How Ogunte can work with you around connectedness

We help women in social enterprises map and understand the complexity of their ecosystem, form quality and relevant knowledge, and power networks, and address personal sense of connectedness along the way.

For more support

Follow our series on 5 pillars of support to equip social entrepreneurs for tough times. Have a look at our articles on growth of confidence , sense of learning, sustainability, and leadership.

Contact us to trial a Thinking Booster or team coaching to explore how to grow your sense of connectedness.

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How to hire and retain talent (including your own) in your social enterprise?

By Servane Mouazan

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During our latest Ogunte brainy breakfast with the fabulous Futureheads Recruitment team and a lively group of women in social enterprises, we explored what it takes to hire and retain talent, we tapped in the crowd wisdom, we heard tips from the pros and the peers, and we all went away with valuable commitments. 

This session was hosted and animated by:

The big hiring questions that never go away

“Recruitment is always paired with clarity about what your organisation is about, the returns you are expecting and your cash flow. And that is itself also part of strategy.  There is no escape.”

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Here are a few of the tips that circulated during our session: 

Before you hire

Think about your ecosystem

Ask yourself:

What will you be able to do once you’ve let go of certain activities?

Work on your job description

You know that studies say men tend to apply even if they haven’t got the whole skill set. Women tend to shy away from jobs if they haven’t matched at least 80% of the requirements…. So much talent wasted. Work out what they can or can not do - yet - and make sure they can showcase how they have learnt and delivered in the past. You certainly need some expertise too. What you don’t need is someone stuck in a silo.

If you need a all-rounder, ask for an all-rounder, someone who is clear about what that means on a daily basis.

Prioritize

Interview Stage

Process

Be Kaler at Futureheads say she has stopped giving people “second chances” after she was submerged with over one hundred applications for only 6 vacancies. So if the cover letter or the CV contains too many mistakes or doesn’t answer the requirements, or if the candidates seem to be jumping from one job to another without real purpose, and if this doesn’t really fit with the position on offer, she tends to eliminate them early on.

Remember, you are hiring a person who will help you grow your social business and have a bigger impact. Not a friend.

How to spot potential?

After you‘ve hired

Legal questions: what type of contract should I go for?

Evaluate the pros and cons of: ad hoc supplier, shared/part time contract, MOU with associates.

For more resources on various types of contracting, and hiring topics, look at the on ACAS website.  

Quick tip

Start small and let things grow. Amend your plans along the way. Is a full time worker really what you need right now? Are you already employed - as a director?

Growth phase

How to attract great talent when you cannot pay for it yet

Fast answers:

Additional resources

At Ogunte, we have used MovingWorlds Experteers, corporate or professional people willing to share their expertise abroad or in a new setting

Paoola, our chief Strategist is extremely valuable to help us validate our services, reframe and communicate our offer better.

On Purpose

This organisation offers 6 months placement of young leaders for purpose-driven businesses in the UK. The service is also available in Paris and Berlin.

Impact Hub, the co-working space for social entrepreneurs, share “non negotiables” in their membership documents as well as their job descriptions.  It’s a set of up to 8 or 10 bullet points that outlines key values, principles and beliefs, which you sign up to as a member or as staff. They use a particular language that fits their community.

DigitalMums: What a great decision to delegate our social media activities to Catherine Horsfield, who trained with DigitalMums agencies and set up her own social media consultancy. Catherine immediately got our values and ethos. She understands the market, the language, and she’s is a great promoter of women in social enterprises everywhere in the world. We value her decisions and her working style and she offers challenging insights. So that’s a win!  

Read the advice of Karen Lynch from Belu Water: “Don’t spend, invest!”

Get a daily drop of sound management / HR advice in your Slack app from the Harvard Business Review (HBR) bot. (1 min read daily) 

About generosity in the workplace

Read this article by Adam Grant. The author of Give and Take explains why generosity in the workplace continues to be more effective than selfishness and why it is critical for personal fulfillment.

Mandalah Global - Discover an example of company DNA/ Culture from this global Conscious Innovation company.

Mandalah’s Culture Guide

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That leadership conversation you haven’t had yet

By Servane Mouazan

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‘A ten-year plan is absurd. A ten-year commitment is precisely what’s required if you want to be sure to make an impact’ Seth Godin

 In our #5Pillars series, we are highlighting elements of the roadmap that make women in social enterprises succeed and more likely to deliver. But success is not just about impacting positively upon your immediate beneficiaries, or clients, it also means paving the way for future generations. It’s about triggering lasting change, shifting attitudes, and accepting that eventually your social enterprise should be made redundant. You are working 24/7 to make yourself disappear.

So how can you define successful leadership in this context? What strategies do you need to singlemindedly promote your cause whilst also engaging with the rest of the world?

How can you talk about your achievements whilst staying humble and acknowledging that you are only been contributing a part to the solution, not solving it all? Or not yet, at least.

How can you align your actions during the day, with what is going through your head, and your actions in private?

It seems to me that “perfect leadership” is a thing for super humans - and perfecting it is  never going to be a finished job.

You have probably read hundreds of articles, assessed your leadership style, attended dozens of workshops and talks with thought leaders and discovered what is most suited to leading your organization. I won’t go over this old ground again.

So instead, on your way to solving people’s and the planet’s problems, I am going to ask you some questions.

You will need to fill in the blanks first. And activate this scenario as soon as you have finished.

The Questions

Knowing that you are working in the field of… and the current constraints around this theme are predominantly (select practical examples) …, …, and … (and these don’t seem to go away), what would you (you, your team, your family, society) need to continue doing, or start doing more of, to make the situation even worse? 

Answer here: …

Reflecting on what you would need to do to sabotage the situation really helps you to become more aware of the things that are creating problems.

Now, on your way home today, leaving your leader’s hat and any other hat behind, where do you suddenly spot the issue you are working on?

a) Here…

b) There…

c) and there as well:…

Find one reason why this is happening in that very location, or one reason why something is not happening, just there.

What if you engaged now in an impromptu conversation with … (stranger), as well as … (someone in your neighborhood), also with … (an elected councilor), and … (an executive/chair from another NGO, social business, or company) and invited them to think about… ?

What if you invited them to activate … with you?

How about you do that this week?

When you get back to work, after this experience, get rid of the superfluous and start focusing on the actions and the relationships you identified, until you get incremental yet evidenced results.

Lastly, share your thinking with me here.

How Ogunte can work with you around visibility and Social Leadership

Our intervention supports women’s influence of change in policy, governance and people’s behaviour. We encourage women into taking influential formal or informal leadership, advisory or executive positions, genuinely “supported” by their stakeholders; we encourage organisations to operate with a gender lens.

For more support

Follow our series on 5 pillars of support to equip social entrepreneurs for tough times. Have a look at our articles on growth of confidence , sense of learning, sustainability.

You can also contact us here to trial a Thinking Booster or team coaching that could help you shape a plan around your leadership.

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#ImpactWomen events to look out for!

by Emma Becirovic - Ogunte contributor

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One of the best ways to grow as a social entrepreneur is by attending an event where you will nurture your connections, increase your professional visibility, and learn from others through panels and debates. The right platform can contribute to your organisation’s learning culture both by bringing up-to-date knowledge, (or diverging opinions!) into your social enterprise and sending knowledge back out into your area of impact. Your confidence and credentials will also be reinforced by appearing at innovative events where you can share your valuable perspectives and experiences. Why not step onto the scene at some of the following events? Most are returning every year. Log them in your calendar to attend future editions!

If you’re interested in nurturing ecosystems, and educating and empowering others

-   Broadening Horizons: Social Enterprise Mark CIC conference

When: 5th-6th June 2017

Where: the University of Winchester, UK

Themes: “Broadening horizons for social enterprise and pushing the boundaries of the traditional social enterprise market”. The event will challenge participants to think about the wider world, Brexit and the market opportunities. For Social Enterprise Mark Holders on the 1st day and other social enterprises on the second day.

- OuiShare - Cities of the World Unite!

When: 5th-7th July 2017

Where: Paris, France

Themes: Cities and citizens are at the heart of the next great transformation.

Join 1,500 visionaries, entrepreneurs and movement builders to explore how digital technologies and a more collaborative culture can address the great challenges of our time and build systemic change.

- Social Enterprise World Forum

When: 27th-29th September 2017

Where: Christchurch, New Zealand

Theme: “Ka koroki te manu – Creating our tomorrow”, is an invitation to create a global legacy of positive change and to take an active role in shaping the world’s future. Key streams: Social enterprise in recovery and regeneration; Global citizenship and international development. Nb: Bursaries available.

- Unleashed, powered by the Centre for Social Enterprise Development

When: November 2017, date TBC

Where: Ottowa, Canada

Themes: “Money, markets, people, and ideas”. A radical conference bringing together ‘thinkers, disrupters, and doers’ for one day to share their insights and experiences in the social enterprise field.

- Women in Enterprise Conference (WEC)

When: 24th-25th November 2017

Where: Kano, Nigeria

Themes: Discussing and cross-pollinating ideas on entrepreneurship. Run specifically with women in mind and designed to inform and inspire other women who already are or want to run their own enterprises.

- Fourteenth International Conference on Environmental, Cultural, Economic & Social Sustainability

When: January 2018, date TBC

Where: Cairns, Australia

Themes: Special focus is “forging solidarity: collective sustainability solutions in a fragmenting world”. This research network attempts to locate what is being experienced in the context of longer, broader and deeper views of the four fundamentals (environment, culture, economy, society) of sustainability.

- Empower- Reach Out to Asia’s Annual Youth Conference on Personal Leadership, Service Learning and Global Citizenship

When: Early March 2018

Where: Qatar

Themes: sustainable tourism; previous themes include youth development for

peaceful societies and sports as youth empowerment. Intends to inspire, inform and mobilize young delegates and to enable young people to take leadership roles in addressing local and international developmental issues

If you’re interested in environmental sustainability

- SEED West Africa Symposium 2017

When: 20th July 2017

Where: Accra, Ghana

Themes: “Reinvent? Replicate! - Replicating Eco-Inclusive Enterprise Solutions for Green Economy and Sustainable Development in West Africa”. Bringing together over 100 enterprises, financial institutions, policy makers, business development service providers and civil society representatives this event aims to generate approaches to and explorations of the business models which will contribute to an inclusive green economy and sustainable development in West Africa.

-  International Conference on Sustainable Development - run by European Centre of Sustainable Development

When: 6th-7th September 2017

Where: Rome, Italy

Themes: “Creating a unified foundation for the Sustainable Development: research, practice and education". Inspired by the critical challenge of human, environmental, and economic sustainability concerning the present and future generations in a global-scale context

If you want to influence and work with policy makers

-   Social Enterprise Policy and Practice

When: 7th September 2017

Where: Glasgow, Scotland

Summary: Bringing together 220+ social enterprise leaders, practitioners, supporters, policy makers and funders to gain insight, this annual event will let you share experiences and best practice, and network.

If you want to talk about money and markets

- Summit ’17- Social Enterprise Alliance

When: 18th-20th September 2017

Where: California, USA

-  Annual Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs

When: 25th-27th September 2017

Where: Virginia, USA

- Social Capital Markets “SoCap”
When: 10th-13th October 2017

Where: San Fransisco, California

Theme: Socap convenes thousands of impact investors, world-class entrepreneurs, and innovative cross-sector practitioners dedicated to increasing the flow of capital toward social good.

- Social Venture Network- 30th anniversary conference and celebration

When: 7th-9th December 2017

Where: San Francisco, USA

- Social Exchange Marketplace

When: March, 2018, date TBC

Where: Edinburgh, Scotland

What do you think of these events? What appeals to you, and what is lacking? We’d love to gain an insight from you, as women in social business, about what you want to find in an event, either as a visitor, co-sponsor or panel participant.

Take our survey here to leave your comments!

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How to avoid a sustainability crisis in your social venture

Servane Mouazan

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Viability and ongoing sustainability: the capacity for living, developing, or germinating under favourable conditions.

In a recent interview for Ogunte, Chinwe Ohajuruka, founder and CEO of Comprehensive Design Services, says that the struggle for many social entrepreneurs is to, “deliver a socially impactful service profitably”. 

If you are not on top of this struggle you are not leading a social enterprise, but a generous project that – if not robustly addressed - will eventually have a sustainability crisis, putting your beneficiaries at risk of no longer being supported, and you at risk of burning out and having to go and sign on.

At Ogunte, we facilitate interventions that help women contribute to welfare in the community of their choice. We also help women to review their design and operational practices in order to be more sustainable.

In our support programmes (for groups or individuals), we focus on the elements you need to put in place for a viable and sustainable venture. Here is a list of questions that we share with our clients, it is not exhaustive! Check through the list and see whether you’ve got everything covered:

 The Design

To bring this exercise to life check out our interview with Ruth Anslow from hiSbe, a supermarket in Brighton that believes in prioritising fair pay and happiness for all over short-term profit. Ruth says that her biggest challenges are places, people and prioritising. Namely:

The Skills

The Pipeline

The Relationships

To get started with the questions above, you don’t need to have reached a particular stage with your venture, or have downloaded all the relevant templates and completed all the spreadsheets. Look instead at what you have done so far - include the success stories as well as the failures. Put them all candidly on a big sheet of paper, identify the pain points and the occurrences of brilliance (don’t be the only one to assess these occurrences of brilliance… we know you ARE brilliant yet it wouldn’t be fair to the business!)

Then look the questions again, one by one and think about what they mean, challenge your first ‘top of the head’ answers, map your ideas.

Candid Evaluation Parties

Don’t try to fix everything in the first few minutes. Let the insights, and feedback develop and flow.

Have your team or your business partners, associates, clients, friends and other stakeholders take part in these candid evaluation parties.

Then clean up your operations, remove the things that are not working and build up the lego pieces again.

You won’t regret it.

For more support, follow our series on 5 pillars of support to equip social entrepreneurs for tough times. Have a look at our articles on growth of confidence and sense of learning.

You can also contact us here to trial a Thinking Booster or team coaching that could help you shape a plan around your viability and sustainability.

You can also use the Beesmap Toolkit to help yourself offline!  

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