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Sunday, September 30, 2007

More about Victor...

I (Victor) described some of my background. I am an organizational psychologist and work in academia, where I ended up somewhat by mistake. I was first introduced to the term "social entrepreneurship" in 1987, when I went to work for a project trying to develop alternative approaches to schooling and especially "marginal" or "at risk" youth. Since then I have been involved in social entrepreneurship, mainly as an action researcher whose role is to discover the "theory" implicit in the practice so that social entrepreneurs can more clearly "see" what they "do" and also deal more effectively with barriers, dilemmas, and conflicts they are experiencing along the way.

In 2000, I was the action research-evaluator for an Israeli incubator of social entrepreneurship that was started by a very high level consortium of government ministries and NGO's for the purpose of stimulating social innovation and change. Unfortunately, the incubator failed but the experiment generated some very important knowledge which I am trying to implement in the "Incubator for Integrative Social Enterpreneurship" which we are developing at College in Israel with the goal of being a catalyst for development and transformation in both the College and the region we serve.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Strategic storytelling and social innovation

I found this article on the socialedge blog today. We would like to tell the story of Social Pioneers in Germany. This article includes some questions to tell your story. If you would like to share your story on this blog, please email f.godat(at)

Strategic storytelling and social innovation

by Social Edge — last modified 2007-09-25 11:47

Hosted by Michael J. Margolis (September 2007)

Strategic StorytellingThrough THIRSTY-FISH, the consulting firm he launched, Michael Margolis helps business and social innovators find the essence of their story and make it real to those constituencies that matter most. He enables organizations to shift perceptions, raise money, and reframe conversations.

What do stories have to do with social enterprise?

At its core, social entrepreneurship is about introducing a new story of social innovation – and convincing others to believe in your market-based solution. Too often, the status quo stands in the way of behavior change and idea adoption.

Most social entrepreneurs must ask others to reframe some of the basic assumptions that we all take for granted. That’s why reason alone cannot overcome the intractable forces of culture. You need a story that inspires and emotionally connects to what people care about.

A well-crafted story becomes the platform that allows people to See, Feel, and Believe in what you are doing. By starting with the right story frame, you accelerate the pace at which people will be able to locate themselves and feel drawn into your story.


Your story should call people to a higher truth. Help people see something we tend to ignore or overlook. Illustrate a new path where everybody wins. Frame your message around universal needs and aspirations. What do we all deserve or want? Rather than pontificate on the moral value of this truth, develop a point of view that is refreshing, unique, or even provocative. Get people to think from a new perspective.


Great stories are driven by sincere emotion. This kinetic energy is what engages people, and gets your audience to invest in the outcome of your story. We make choices based on feelings, not reason. Your story must establish an emotive connection, compelling someone into caring and wanting to be a part of what you do.


Every story is ultimately at the mercy of its audience. They hold the power to judge and perceive your story however they wish. Get clear on the audience you are trying to persuade and take the time to understand their motivations. How will they identify with your story, and why should they believe in your ability to deliver on your promise?

Let's explore key questions as they relate to social entrepreneurs:

What is the truth at the heart of your story?

Why would someone feel connected to your story?

Who do you need to believe in your story?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Building a Community of Social Pioneers in Germany

I had the big opportunity joining self 4 weeks ago to write my own job description. Almost 4 months ago, I defined that I want to work as an “Initiator & Facilitator of Change Networks”. I see the Social Pioneers community in Germany as a pilot project for me to define my practice more clearly. Looking at the Social Pioneers community, I would like to develop and connect people who are working on social innovation. Furthermore, I would like to inspire people to take responsibility and leadership for implementing social innovations in an entrepreneurial way in Germany.

The tools I use for practicing as an “Initiator & Facilitator of Change Networks” are dialogue tools which provide the space and the time for social pioneers to have the conversations that matter to them. In the upcoming weeks, we will be experimenting with different community-building tools such as Communities of Practice, the Chaordic Design Process, Learning Networks and Success Teams, Netweaving, dialogues tools (such as World Café, OpenSpace, Appreciative Inquiry, Presencing, Dialogue Games), methods from intercultural trainings, and personal leadership development modules.

I would like to start our dialogue in the Social Pioneers community with these 2 questions:

  • Where do you see your role in developing this community?
  • What is your practice that you can contribute?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Social Entrepreneurship in Germany - An Israelian Perspective

At the beginning of September, we met here in Berlin with a group of people working on Social Entrepreneurship. One of them was Victor, a professor from Israel. Here are some of his reflections:

"When Markus (whom I met in Copenhagen at a conference) heard I was coming to Germany, he suggested we meet with the people at SELF, an incubator for social entrepreneurship that is just opening up in Berlin. The driving force behind SELF is Wiebke Koch, a German woman, who was born in the East and has moved a great deal since the age of 14. Wiebke began in the business world but was disturbed by that world, which she said made people "sick". So she began to work for NGO's, but there too she found that there was tremendous "waste" and "inefficiency" (and perhaps more than I cannot remember). In Australia she was introduced to social entrepreneurship. When she came back to Germany, she wanted to get involved in the the social entrepreneurship community, but she couldn't find it, so she decided to start one. She became involved in SOL (the Society for Organizational Learning) and there she met the people who were developing "the Hub". Essentially the Hub is a developing network of incubators for social entrepreneurship. This meeting gave her the idea of creating a Hub, which they call SELF, in Berlin.

Wiebke has been developing this idea of SELF for at least two years and it is set to open in November. SELF, and "Hubs" in general, are physical spaces, generally in large cities, that provide space, facilities, infrastructure, networking, and other services for social entrepreneurs. In addition to the physical space and infrastructure, SELF will offer three "business models" or services: an "incubator" for starting entrepreneurs, an "academy" for functioning entrepreneurs, and consulting services to business on the issue of innovation.

After much searching and almost giving up, SELF found the "perfect" space, over 600 square meter in a big residential-industrial building in Kreuzber. The space is currently being renovated, so we saw it in the middle of construction. There will be a large space for offices, to be rented to SE on a kind of time-sharing basis (from a few hours a week to full time). The offices will be located in a large open space with no dividing walls, so that the entrepreneurs will be in constant contact with each other. There will be another space for the academy, a "chilling" space as Wiebke called it (a kind of a lounge with food, informal meeting), meetings rooms, a library, and a kitchen.

Wiebke has put together a very impressive team of people to bring SELF into reality. Although each member of the team has a nominal role, they all are in the process of defining their roles individually and relative to each other and this role definition process is something that will continue to evolve as SELF comes into reality and evolves. "

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The selfHUB - A Community of Social Pioneers

Some of the selfTeam has been sitting together yesterday with researchers from universities who work on social entrepreneurship. Victor, a professor from Israel asked us how we capture our learning in this very hectic and crucial phase of setting up the selfHUB by November.

We were struggling for an anwser and even today, I spent the whole day in front of the computer with a very long ToDo list and many emails sent. In one of the last emails sent today, I was asking the to-be hosts of the Pioneers of Change Peacebuilders community these 2 questions:
  • What is your passion that has made you join this Peacebuilders community?
  • What makes you feel that you belong to this Community?
And at 22:17, after a long day and with 82 emails still in my Inbox to work on, I pause and ask myself:


I "ended up" in the social entrepreneurship field (the Fourth Sector), after I felt a great disconnection in the other 3 sectors: I have studied political science and wanted to work for the government in the Foreign Office. But I did not belong: it was way too little space for change, creativity, and innovation . To pass the entry test it was not important to know how to apply knowledge but to reproduce facts without questioning them. During and after my studies, I was involved for 7 years in the world largest (business) student organization AIESEC where students wanted to change the world but most of them ended up in big multinational companies to make the big money, one day. I belonged and still belong to that organization but not to the business world of making profit for the sake of making profit. 3 years in the NGO sector that followed have exposed me to social organizations that do not work because the people working for these organizations get sick from the inhumane system. NGOs are not learning from the business sector which has role-modeled those unhealthy organizations - the third sector is even copying those systems and on top of that is missing a lot of the times the business knowledge to run them.

Why do the traditional organizational systems not work? How does the organization of the future look like? What are the new working roles evolving? What is my role in this?

I feel that I belong to the selfCommunity because I have the safe space to ask these questions and to have conversations with like-minded people about those and other questions. And slowly there are even working projects emerging around those questions that I can sustain myself with financially...

22:47...going back to my emails...

Monday, September 3, 2007

Spiral Dynamics

Here a piece from the newsletter of our Dutch friends from engage!interact:

DVD "A Spiral Dynamics Perspective on Fundamentalism in the Dutch context"

A special recording of the presentation "A Spiral Dynamics Perspective on Fundamentalism in the Dutch context" as presented by Dr. Don Beck and Peter Merry in Driebergen on 28 January 2005. The DVD contains: Video Footage, Integrated Powerpoint Slides, Introduction to Spiral Dynamics, Background reading material and Links. Click here to order.

Albert from Berlin is also blogging on Spiral Dynamics: