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Collaborating for Social Change – Notes from Session from ChainReaction08

Given that’s it’s a packed and intense two days during Chain Reaction 08, and that the WiFi connection is sporadic, and non-responsive at times, it means that the social reporting, and real time updates from the event are a little more challenging to get out.

For now – I’m going to just share my unabridged notes, from the sessions that I attended, to give you a “flavour” – and I use the term very very loosely, of what’s been happening at the event..

I’ll be sure to revise this posting to a more detailed write up, after the event, once I get a bit more time, but for now – I just want to share what’s come out of the sessions so far..

So to start off, after some excellent ice-breakers, and welcomes to the room, and after an inspiring keynote from Jeremy Gilley, we broke off into different rooms.

I really wanted to sit in on the Collaboration for Social Change session, which was chaired by Stephen Howard from Business In The Community.

Here’s my notes, taken,in realtime, as the session took place – and I hope they give you a glimpse into some of the conversations that were happening, please ask any questions, or share your insights in the comments below.. For now, I can only apologise for the roughness of these next few blogposts..

Collaborating for Social Change

Steve Howard chaired session.


Microfinance infrastructure

kuda India – 100,000 microfinancing clients

collaborating internally – created opensource software for managing micro-financing organisations, working with grameen bank


coming years, business might step backwards

– key theme, asking staff what they want to do, having staff express what they wanted to do

– people love engaging with community, unlocks talent, people have more contact with customers

– in offices where people are engaged, and doing more volunteer work, other metrics and scores are better

– royal mail support barnardos – aligns with values of staff, and what matters to them

– questions from audience – hiten shah – partnership working is difficult and mostly fails, would like to know key elements for success and pitfalls for failure

– partnerships take longer than expected – require a few years to properly be able to work together

– IBM – moved from “big things” to helping staff take small local action -

– RoyalMail did the same, focus on what people want to do locally, not national large corporate led strategies

– remove barriers, to make it easier for people to engage and participate in the programs

– homeless project, involved providing work for homeless – over 16hrs work, meant homeless lost their free housing

being open, with frank dialogue, with staff, not trying to control process, but empowering staff

– boss from Big Issue, sharing social entrepreneur model – challenging corporates to invest CSR budget in Big Issue Invest

– outsourcing CSR spend – to organisations that are more effective, prove return on investment, and show profit

chainreactiion08 – commercial organisation with a social purpose – the Royal Mail

– do we have shared interests? Having different positions? Should work together, where there are common aims

people with money want to give their money in a way that provides visible returns, leads to direct results

– leadership development in the “Third Sector”, what do we need to prepare the next generation to work across the sectors

– IBM-programs exist where leadership can be developed, and second staff to government

– RoyalMail – most organisations have secondment programs, had staff leave to join organisations and programs

-companies starting to bring in an external person into corporate trainings, so they can benefit

– royalmail – business learns from the experience too. Hugely benefits staff to be exposed to the environment

– question – salesforce gives 1% of time, what do corporates do?

– ideas and hours are logged internally, and IBM supports financially accordingly

– how do we take this idea to the other employers, to smaller businesses? Value of community contribution

– video message from allan gillespie, from goldman sachs – video stopped working

– allan gillespie – talks about social action – microsoft, building foundation years ago, burdened on africa poverty issues

– power of immunity, and immunisation – most poor communities only 25-35% get vaccines – people dying from preventable diseases

– prevent children suffering from diseases, kids can be educated, mothers can support family

– millenium development goals, monterey, california, creation by UN – 2000

chainreacction08 – goal 5 – reduction in preventable child deaths

– MS, gates, invested 1.5 billion – uk, and other european govts stepped up and also added to funds

france spain, italy, south africa, sweden, norway – funding secured over many years

– promise of funding used to secure loans to be paid off, across the program

– problems like refrigeration of vaccines with solar refrigerators, motorbikes, resources to make vaccines available

– 10 years – estimated 500 million children will be vaccinated, at least 10, 20 million children saved from death

– gates, un, gleneagles, uk, bank of england, city of london – chain of ripple to make change

– join leadership, government, politics, for sustainable success

– prof david grayson – chair of csr @ Cranfield Business School

– proposal asking businesses to see if a sustainable model for a new immunisation program might work

– fortuitious accident, that proposal landed on desk of banker at goldman sachs, who was looking for csr programs to engage with

– council for social action – need new ways of making change, collaborating

-key characteristics in paper which highlight what works in collaboration-pdf on council of social action website

these will not always be the right approach, takes great deal of time and energy to make programs work

requires significant investment from govt, business, and third sector

must have shared purpose, build deep relationships over time, for commitment to succeed

need for a common vocabulary, between business, govt and 3rd sector

need capacity to engage with whats on offer, and to properly commit to the cause

extend collaboration common to business to partner with other organisations, new forms off collaboration

capacity for organisations to work with different types of

launch of a consulation – what are the determining critical factors?

-can you share what you’ve seen work? Different scales, different size?

– have the critical success factors been correctly identified?

– have key requirements that will lead to this success been identified?

– looking forward to getting more feedback on these ideas.

invitation to connect with BASAC that’s developing program for supporting community co-operation and participation

suggestion to connect the dots, connecting people together who are already doing amazing things

– unlocking talent, business response, how do we create a web based talent map of what’s already there??

– how do we take this challenge and make it simpler and easier for businesses to connect and collaborate

– ibm evangelists will offer advice, suggestions, find and ask for advice

royal mail – move away from evangelising, and making local connection

– learn across sectors, ripe environment of people who know how to use social networks

– simple actions, why so complicated?

– worldeka, more information, more networks

– suggestion of many ideas, diversity in nature, thriving on diversity

– royal mail – overarching aim is to make it easier and more accessible for businesses to participate, and engage

– not targetted at single solutions, or one solution, but many different solutions, and many different responses

– suggestion that firms make visible a choice to work because of csr, and make that visible

– talk about issues, not necessarily business

– choosing partners based on common values

– building brand and reputation, recruiting the best staff

– IBM actions were based on the values expressed through their staff jams

– tangible evidence from Legal and general research showing companies that implemented these values to outperform

– procurement from ethical suppliers, royal mail, constantly asked about what they’re doing on sustainability and social action

– companies genuinely interested in working with like minded organisations

– grad recruitment – if you’re not talking about work life, environment, you dont’ stand a chance

requires big change in mindset from organisations in civil society, and preparedness to work across sectors in new challenging ways

jeffery sachs – us against a common problem – not us and them anymore

how do we prevent stifling of ideas, increase cross-fertilisation of ideas

subject is more important than ever – need is greater than ever – feels too big to deal with alone

– individually we can help, collaboratively we can help even more

– stephen howard – ceo – business in the community – what can we take away? What difference can I make?

– the urgency has never been greater..

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