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Nick Temple
Policy + Comms Director at the SSE.
Interests: Social entrepreneurship
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Nick Temple is now following The Typepad Team
Mar 15, 2010
Thanks Martin for your comment. Couldn't agree more. What we at SSE, UnLtd and the other organisations have in common, as you say, is a genuine belief that social entrepreneurship can transform those normally viewed as 'beneficiaries' into potential leaders. With support from the movement and government, we're hugely excited by the possibilities.
Do you think the barrier is that there aren't appropriate tools + ways, Rob? Or is it more about people building it into what they do? Is the problem the tools, or lack of awareness / putting it into practice? (or are the tools the reason people aren't putting it into practice) I think peer review is an interesting approach (one we've thought about in relation to quality auditing our franchises, for example), but would it, when it comes to the crunch, have the necessary credibility with funders, investors, stakeholders of all types? Not sure. Perhaps it would be a good step towards more formal evaluation.
Toggle Commented Jan 21, 2010 on Social Impact Camp at The Social Business
Worth reflecting on Michael Young's Rise of Meritocracy in this context. As the Wikipedia article notes (, the term was "intended to be perjorative" and the book was set in a "dystopian future", not a utopian one. It was meant satirically. Needless to say, politicians since have adopted it in a positive light. Indeed, Labour have promoted it as a main objective. Worth checking out: - Michael Young on why he wishes Tony Blair would stop using the word (in 2001): - The Rise + Rise of Meritocracy: essays via the Young Foundation Cheers
Yes, agreed, agreed, agreed in a warm-Christmassy type of way. Thanks for prompting this all Rob (and Liam). Will do our bit to make Voice a place of reality and relevance, not rhetoric. On which note, back to work....
Would agree on the need to prove viability. As often mentioned here, there's a reason we're not the School for Social Enterprise...because we belive it's horses for courses in terms of models fit to achieving a mission. And have always been against overclaiming / overpromising, + the gap between rhetoric + reality. And I agree on the need for new (radical) innovations that game-change, alongside the combined impact of smaller interventions (as Geof points out, Social Firms are a good example). I think the point about toeing the line re. government money is probably a fair one; don't know if that's true for us...I guess others can judge. I think we've been quieter this year largely because of doubling the number of social entrepreneurs we've been supporting across the UK. I hope there are some mini-Yunuses amongst them. There's also a reason why in a team of 11 (and 20+ in franchises), we only have half a policy person... On government, I just think it's a bit more nuanced. Obviously a business that relies on long-term, continual subsidy to function isn't a functioning business. But cutting yourself off from government altogether seems too dogmatic / black and white. You could even argue it's un-entrepreneurial to cut off one resource completely. And how far do you go? Ignoring local government contracts? Not taking an UnLtd Level 1 to get going (seeing as it was Millennium Commission money from government originally)? Not taking advice from Business Link (Ok, maybe that's OK)? Not taking a loan to kick-off from RBS? Surely any conversation about government subsidy has to now be in the context of the £130bn+ used to bail out the banks? Which is bigger spending than any government department.....Also, surely every funder or investor has outcomes, monitoring, bureaucracy, agendas; government might have more, but it's classic 'hold to the mission' stuff regardless. The final thing is that government is still a machine to achieve big-scale social change. I know this is somewhat off the point about subsidising social enterprise (but we largely all agree about that), but feels relevant to the discussion nonetheless. Even after all his achievements, Yunus still toyed with politics (floating a new political party etc) to make change. And government policy continues to shape the reality on the ground for businesses and organisations of all types.
Thanks for taking the time to post during a hectic time, Liam. It's been interesting following from here. You know already that I agree with a fair amount of what you say: learning by doing is what this space is all about; definition debates just drain energy away from delivery; accept it's a (non-linear) journey; cut across and partner with all sectors; and it also takes time and persistence. I'm with David on the reality of starting up, but also disagree on what you say about the impact of those "nice but marginal" small social enterprises you refer to. All our research demonstrates that the impact of 'small-scale' social entrepreneurs is underestimated, as there is a huge ripple effect from the job creation, volunteer position creation, inspiration to community, better services / goods, associated effects on families, children, relationships, health etc etc. One person can end up changing the lives of hundreds, or thousands with a 'small' venture. So it's obvious what hundreds and thousands of those small ventures can do. Clearly we do need big-scale solutions (and I do note that it's the paucity of ideas you are highlighting), but making scale part of what this movement is about means that you exclude; you end up in Skoll-world or Ashoka-ville where either you're a Yunus or you're not welcome. Which means a) potentially missing finding the next Yunus and b) missing out on the chance to inspire and involve and change the mindsets of whole swathes of people who might make smaller-scale change. Aggregating those many smaller-scale changes reaches big-scale. It's not an either-or, of course: we need both. But the answers rarely lie down one route only, be that government or private business. It is, as you say, much messier than that.
It's true about the optimism, Rob: we find that in our surveys as well. I asked about 400 SSE and UnLtd soc ents about how the current economic climate had affected them, and it had strengthened their resolve and they were MORE optimistic. I don't know whether that's about feeling that traditional economy has failed (therefore our time has come) or whether it's the passionate / purposeful streak that marks them out...or maybe I'm just a lot more cyncial and jaded. I couldn't agree more with Liam about critique as well: constructive criticism and learning from mistakes is the only way we get better. There's an interesting post on it here which, although largely about US / philanthropy, is relevant: Like you Rob, I often get the best responses to the most challenging, honest posts, as does Rod Schwartz. Personally, I think social entrepreneurs build legitimacy, trust and credibility through authenticity and transparency and proving the quality/impact of what they do. And that transparency is at least partly about honesty about what's gone well and not gone well. The same is surely true for the movement as a whole.
Toggle Commented Dec 2, 2009 on It was ten years ago today at The Social Business
You know I agree with you Rob, and I agree that we need to learn from things when they go wrong: it's what our whole programme is based on (learning by doing). Not that that means we always do it brilliantly ourselves. I'd only say that it does seem that the Coalition can be a bit damned if they do and damned if they don't. People (including me) say "it's all rhetoric, no reality", so they commission a survey + research, publish the findings, and people say "it's not comprehensive enough" or "you're highlighting the good stuff only". Both of those might have some truth, but it's got to be a step in the right direction surely (evidence-based)? It is bloody hard, and I'm constantly amazed by the people we work with who do it and make it work. Let's challenge each other, learn and critique, but, as you say, not fall to finger-pointing and (only the bad news) sniping.
Toggle Commented Nov 23, 2009 on It was ten years ago today at The Social Business
I hope that "detiorate" was deliberate, Liam! Can only agree, as I said in a recent comment here, Rob. Impact, impact,'s a bottom line as well as the one with pound signs against it. FRC were truly impressive at Good Deals and have sent me back to SSE's processes to see what we can improve (aka "lots"). Interested on the PwC / private companies point. I guess one thing to that might be "wouldn't that be welcome?" (that they prove and improve their social impact). For me, the additional point would be that the fairness or levelness of the playing field, as with advocacy and lobbying, tends to be as much about scale of organisation, rather than type of. Who'll have the budgets to do it best? But that's no excuse for not doing it at all, and for wanting the agenda to come in that direction.
Toggle Commented Nov 23, 2009 on Angel Entrepreneurs at The Social Business
Hi Rob: am boringly going to agree. What you say suits this part of the "UK social enterprise support industry" (if that includes us). It still seems self-evident to me that choosing the right structure, financing, governance etc to achieve your goals / mission is the sensible approach, rather than one that forces people into boxes. As you say, it should be about impact. That's why I'm delivering social impact measurement sessions around the SSE network at the moment, so that gets built in from the start (if they get it). And why I was surprised in some recent social entrepreneur interviewing at the lack of evidence of impact from a couple of supposed 'stars'. Show me the impact. (if Rod Schwartz was Jerry Maguire etc)
Great, balanced post Beth. Nice to wake up and see I wasn't alone in not agreeing with the original Godin post. As you say, the irony of the situation may be that the people engaged (or enraged) by Seth's post are the social change people who are MOST involved in using social media already. From our point of view at the School for Social Entrepreneurs, we've had our best year ever: doubled in size + the number of people we support; therefore doubled potential impact; doubled turnover; and created new jobs within our org as well. In addition, @SchSocEnt was called an "essential tweep" on social entrepreneurship by @SocialEdge, but it will be sometime before that features in a report to our board, our funders or other potential supporters....!
Thanks for the mention. We're 12 years old this year, but growing fast: franchising in the UK and overseas. An exciting time for this movement.
I am indeed...born in Lancashire, lived near Stockport; first Old Trafford game aged 4!
Rob, it's not often I don't agree with you, but this: "the fact I was so fed up was indication of the great progress we've made this year" followed by "I like the fact that he is trying to change what he would call the mentality of the club. He doesn't believe United's players are better than ours - but that they have a better winning mentality, which is clearly correct given that they have more points than us. They believe they are going to win games that other teams would have given up as lost. In other words, like any sports psychologist will tell you, it's in the mind." Come on. Let it go. Really. ;0) And tell Rafa that if he wants the rest of us to be a big fan, he needs to learn how to lose graciously....
I think you're right Rob, and it's certainly what Alastair was putting across at the summit and, even more so, at the launch of the Future Jobs Fund. Evidence is key, and anecdote+assertion isn't enough, so I'd also agree with Stephen Bubb on that. It's also about a shift of mindset from "please, please, please give us some support" to "here's what we do, here's the proof, why wouldn't you support?" It's never been a panacea, just a potential part of the solution...and one that needs to be better understood, measured and (where it works) supported. Hopefully, there will be enough flexibility in what comes out of the summit / FJF to allow for the reality of how long job creation takes, the different sorts and types, and how to ensure they are sustainable, lasting jobs, rather than (as David says) subsidised and then dropped. I wasn't at the summit, but at the FJF launch the next day, the emphasis from all round the table was certainly on the practicalities, the detail of delivery, the challenges...and there were (encouragingly) lots of practitioners at the table, not just us second tier types See for more.
Toggle Commented May 18, 2009 on Let's get real at The Social Business