The Center for Social Innovation at Stanford University recently posted an article about how to get more “doers” to the table. In this article, Kriss Deiglmeier points out that many reports on how to accelerate and advance social innovation don’t actually include leadership from the organizations providing programs and services, but instead largely includes consultants, advisors, and experts in the field. And when doers are missing from the table, they are not involved in the conversation to define hot topics and set priorities.
The article argues that this group is missing because they are unempowered and lack the resources and networks to participate in these high-level discussions. But for the strongest doers, it is possible that they don’t want to be part of the conversation unless they think it will lead to real and concrete action.
I have worked with some extraordinary leaders over the past few years in East Africa– people who have addressed a very specific social problem with a social enterprise that is run like a business but built to benefit the bottom of the pyramid. These guys define hot topics by starting companies or investing organizational resources in ideas that they like. They set priorities by seeking funding for new and exciting concepts They don’t want to write reports about how impact investing can help them. They want to pick up the phone and tell the impact investors what their needs are.
If social enterprise experts want to get more doers to the table, they might start by providing action-oriented incentives for people leading change in the sector – if you help us think about this funding priority, we will connect you with resources for your organization. If you help define hot topics, we’ll provide you with funding to pilot these new ideas in your organization and report on the results. Doers want to spend their limited resources where they will have the highest impact – to get them to the table, the table must be redefined with that mentality in mind.