Highlights is the monthly newsletter of the npEnterprise Forum. This edition
presents a recent thread about how social enterprises can ascertain their
BECOME AN SEA MEMBER
The npEnterprise Forum has been designated by the Social Enterprise Alliance
as its official listserv. Help grow the social enterprise movement,
including this listserv, by supporting SEA, a membership organization. Join
at http://www.se-alliance.org/membership.cfm Thanks!
Here are several of the comments that arrived in response to the following
question from Rob Greenland:
"Has anyone come across any good ways to help a social enterprise to decide
what its values are? I want to move away from the obvious values which any
group of people in a room would probably come up with (even though they may
be important), to try to get people to think a little more creatively. Any
ideas on how to do this would be much appreciated."
(1) From Mike Burns <mikbrns2@...>
I have found that a "theory of change" exercise can be helpful. Two
approaches are possible (at least for me). Approach (a) has board/staff
gather in a room for a few hours and answer, from the tops of their heads,
the three "theory of change" questions.
The first "theory of change" questions are: who is the "customer" and what
does the group believe about the needs of the customer and the environment
that affects what the customer needs or wants or what are "unsatisfactory"
conditions for the customer. In effect, the group's descriptions of beliefs
forms the first set of values for the organization.
The second "theory of change" question focuses on defining/describing what
intervention the group believes would have a positive impact on the
condition of the customer described in the 1st question. Again, these
beliefs are values.
The third question focuses on describing the desired outcome from the
intervention described in question 2. Again, beliefs.
An alternative to doing this exercise off the top of heads is to have staff
or volunteers studiously work out the answers to the three questions for the
group to discuss and reach conclusions on. The alternative approach reduces
ownership a bit but expedites the process.
So, values arise out of the beliefs described in the three-part exercise.
Mission and purpose statements can also arise from this exercise. And sure,
a facilitator can prove helpful but good homework can be equally helpful.
(2) Tom White <tom@...>
I'd recommend Peter Crosby's article from the Social Enterprise Reporter,
"Mission ONE: Integrating Nonprofit Right & Left Brains", with exercises for
Here's a quote and the URL.
"Change-especially rapid change -requires deep alignment of mission,
planning and implementation. Most critical is fully understanding our team's
differing points of view so we can generate common language and agreements
Peter is a social entrepreneur in profit and nonprofit environments with
20-year's international experience specializing in strategic planning,
operations, media and internet technologies.
(3) From Jan Cohen <JCOHENCA@...>
I know the problem...trying to come up with something that really fits an
organization, especially one that is somewhat driven by opportunity. I have
had success working with groups when having their vision statement and their
business decision or opportunity screening criteria up on the wall for this
discussion. If you can frame the values discussion with these documents, and
ask what is at the root of all of this? What really do we believe that is
behind these documents? What few critical values do we want "on the wall",
so to speak, to help us (and those who join us in the
future) to stay on the right path?
I've had good success with this. You might give it a try. Hopefully it will
help you get to where I think you are trying to go....a set of values that
current and new staff and Board remember and use daily to guide decisions
(4) From Steve Lalande <steve@...>
I think that the usual survey and seeking people's views are incredibly
important, as the customer's needs are the reason why we exist philosophy
Other ways are to observe the problems and challenges that the service has
to face over a period of, let's say, 12 months and try and pinpoint the
essence, the burning issues, the details. This would be useful in
concluding the raison d'etre and from that, the values.
SPREAD THE WORD
Want to tell a friend or colleague about the npEnterprise Forum, and suggest
that they subscribe as well? Send them to the listserv's website at
NOW IT'S YOUR TURN!
Discussions in the npEnterprise Forum are made possible with your questions
and comments. Why not take a few moments to send in a note? We'll be looking
for you! Send your question to:
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]