Category Archives: Social Innovation

Girl Code – women soaring together

Book review of Girl Code, by Cara Alwill Leyba.
This wasn’t the book I was expecting – there are a couple of books with the same title about girl coders. This is more about the secret of girls’ clubs. What it does very well is highlight the benefits of being part of a network.  One example is Chooks South Australia – a network that aims to address the gender differentials in investment in start ups and social enterprises (Search for ‘Chooks SA’ on Facebook).

The main chapters of the Girl Code book tease out what is a bit different about women in business and how we can support and encourage each other, especially when dealing with the ‘confidence cringe’ that many women have. The format is short interviews with successful American women and their philosophies and lessons.

In summary:
What women need more of:
Connection and Contribution. We all love to be needed so we each succeed when we help others succeed.
Plus, the Confidence to be who we are. It’s actually harder covering up our quirkiness in order to fit in. Groups can be a safe space to test and confirm that we are okay just as we are.

What women need less of:
Insecurity.  No one who is great now, was great when they started.
Excuses. too old, too young, too much this, not enough that.  Do what you can now.  It’s only discomfort, you won’t die if they say no, so get on with it.
Cattiness and envy.  We can have what others are having, we just have to work hard and consistently for it.
Fear.  We fear that we won’t be able to cope but we can, we are women!

My new take on the Helen Ready Anthem:

We are women, watch us soar, in a flock that’s too big to ignore!

Career path stories – planned or intuitive?

A 2014 article by Dennis Nishi in the Wall Street Journal, tells an anecdote about a school teacher, Eric Adler, who becomes a consultant, but doesn’t like consulting and then sets up the SEED Foundation to provide boarding schools for ‘at risk’ youth in urban areas in America.  The message of the article is on making the time to define success for ouselves, rather than accepting society’s definitions of success, as illustrated by Mr Adler’s discovery that he didn’t like being a consultant.

What also interests me about this story is that even though Adler didn’t like being a consultant, the MBA and the year’s experience he gained at a consultancy firm were probably extremely valuable to him in setting up the SEED Foundation successfully and in giving him the credibility to raise funding.

This story could also be told in a very different way as a planned career path for Mr Adler – from teacher, to recognising a social issue, to getting the requisite qualifications and experience that enabled him to successfully do something about that social issue.

As with many life and career paths, they are obvious in retrospect yet we can feel like we are blindly following urges that we don’t necessarily understand at the time.

What urges are you facing that are persistent but don’t make sense today?

We can all be philanthropists

Thanks to the Centre for Social Impact and AGSM for a very interesting lecture on philanthropy by Daniel Petre. Although I initially thought the topic was “preaching to the converted”, I found his “call to action” – for each of us to find something we are passionate about – was very motivating. It got me reflecting that my volunteering and investment efforts so far have been a bit scatter gun.  He also challenged us to “get rigorous” and “not to reward mediocrity” – there are lots of nice people in the community sector but they are not all doing great work.

It’s great to have a spokesperson like him for philanthropy and social impact – now we need 1000 more to get to the tipping point. I trust that having these sorts of subjects available to our upcoming MBA students will tip the balance for the future.  But when I open the Fin Review and see “Me, first. The MBA re-imagined” from another university, I know it’s still going to be a hard slog.

The new work frontier – human powered organisations

With human power being the most plentiful resource on our planet, I cannot understand why so many organisations are still focused on lowering headcount and replacing people with technology.  I for one am going to work in the other direction.  For every four people who are prepared to work a four day work week (see my previous blog) we can offer a job to a fifth person – possibly a student or someone who is currently unemployed but still seeking work.

It makes sense as a fabulous social innovation that will revolutionise our workplaces, our home lives and our communities.

Think about it.  Who do you know who is finishing school or university this year with no stable future in front of them, or has been retrenched in their early 50s and can’t find replacement work at the same level?  How many of us do you know who are managers and specialists and spend way too much time doing paperwork instead of the work we are skilled to do because all our admin staff have been retrenched or fired?

Wouldn’t you like to help them and simultaneously free up some of your time?

Redefining Education – “school for life”

I’ve been catching up on some overdue reading from the Stanford Social Innovation Review Winter 2012 edition.  So many great ideas and so little time to play with them all.  (Well not exactly true if I’ve got granny’s good genes – she’s 95 and still enjoying Wimbledon).

My first favourite idea from this edition is “school for life” a new education model for developing countries.  The model is based on programs in Asia, Latin America and Africa.  It proposes that content should focus less on western curricula and academic skills and more on basic life skills such as health, financial literacy and entrepreneurship.  In addition, the focus should be on student-centred learning and group skills because group efficacy is as important as self-efficacy.

Makes sense not just for developing countries but maybe in struggling areas in Australia too!