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Highlights 5.9

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  • Rolfe Larson
    HELLO! Highlights is the monthly newsletter of the npEnterprise Forum. This edition presents a recent thread about how social enterprises can ascertain their
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 31, 2007
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      Highlights is the monthly newsletter of the npEnterprise Forum. This edition
      presents a recent thread about how social enterprises can ascertain their
      core values.


      The npEnterprise Forum has been designated by the Social Enterprise Alliance
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      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
      generating alignment.

      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
      for action."


      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
      and behavior.

      (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
      always apply.

      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.


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