Families Going Forward

picThe government is to spend £3million pounds on training children’s centre outreach workers. This is a drive to ensure that the most disadvantaged families are reached and the needs of all children and families are being met.

Now that children’s centres have been running for some time they are good at planning and delivering services and activities and ensuring in many cases that financial stability is a priority.

Our partnership is involved in developing children’s centres and continues to support them in both their marketing and work with the community. The local neighbourhood and a knowledge of families and organisations can make so much difference to ensuring that they are part of the community and not seen as another service beyond a closed gate.

Over 5000 workers are intended to be part of the training programme, which is being developed by Children’s Workforce Development Council . It is being provided by  National Children’s Bureau through a programme called Families Going Forward and underpinned by 4Children.

Social entrepreneurship – boring?

Nathaniel Whittemore has just published an interesting reflection on the role of business practices in social entrepreneurship. His work appears on the change.org site.

The context of his article was a critique of the management consultancy McKinsey & Co. and their recent debate on whether the language of business is relevant in our sector.

His argument is summarised here…

…talking about “the language and practice of business” and assuming that is a monolith is sort of like talking about “the language and practice of nonprofits” and trying to lump community development initiatives, affordable housing, humanitarian relief, and undergraduate education all together. In other words, it just doesn’t work.

Running our own small business and trying to help others in a diverse range of communities of interest to start social businesses clearly places us well out of the orbit of McKinsey. However, the argument proposed in the change.org piece rings loud and clear to us.

Highly complex and detailed management reporting or business plans, and the knowledge of how to produce them, is clearly an important constituent in delivering effective change in a social business. It goes also to establishing credence and mission based objectives for any organisation.

However, at ground zero of delivery in a local community all strategic analysis and esoteric conceptualising is subservient to the immediacy of solving the current problem, the now of small things.

Not to cope with this aspect of a social business start-up will handicap its development from the earliest stage. We would argue that what makes for the most successfully entrepreneurial organisation is the embrace of theory and methodology BUT coupled to passion, drive and social reformation.

One of our partners, in describing our partnership philosophy, says that we are social radicals but fiscal conservatives.

Not sure that every team member would recognise the model as we believe state spending is an integral part of the enduring social contract, but a great truncation of a sophisticated and socially passionate set of drivers for any group of people who want to effect change – by interacting with diverse communities of interest and power.

As Whittemore has it…

entrepreneurs in general tend to want every single tool they can get in their toolbox. They don’t want to limit themselves to only one approach simply because that’s what has been done before’.

This rings true to us – across the roundabout, under the bypass and into the community centre.

How to lead?

Team work We have been reading our positive psychology manuals this week. We have a number of projects undertaking governance change and developing a positive culture, flat organisations without ego driven collateral damage and still have a leadership presence…never the most straightforward of transitions.

Simplistic  mantras and web lists can be a glib exercise, but from all cliche always emerges a hard nugget of truth.

So, about notions of behaviour and presence when leading and group of people? Do leaders emerge fully formed from the womb? We think not. The best ones learn from their experiences and determine their modes of behaviour from that experience.

Bullies move forward without reflection and their egotism and hard headedness can achieve results, or rather a result emerges, but perhaps not the one that the concensus would deem most appropriate.

In the Third Sector accrued collateral from experiences and developing relationships should be honesty, reflective action in line with the ethos of the organisation and positive outcomes in tune with the social master plan.

Here’s a list…

  1. Be Open
  2. Be Appreciative
  3. Be Curious
  4. Be Kind
  5. Be Real – no false pretenses of positivity

We would add a number 6.

6. Do something unexpected.

That could be anything from buying the doughnuts on a Friday for the whole team, telling people – without asking – what music you’re currently listening to, or being the first up on the stage at karaoke nights.

This is not spilling your ego onto others, its inviting them into your mental landscape. Surprising and effective.

When  you ask the team to do the difficult thing, or undertake the more unexpected project plan…they’re more likely to come with you to storm the barricades. You see!

Our list from 1 to 5 came from a presentation by Dr. Barbara Fredrickson in an article for Positive Psychology News by Elaine O’Brian. Read more here.

Everybody in our organisation can be a better leader, whatever task they undertake.