Last week, I wrote to IDEO and recommended that, along with food production and maternal health, they should add ‘social finance’ as a design challenge on their OpenIDEO site. I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email, from a real person, acknowledging my request and noting that it’ll be added to the list. With all of the time I spend thinking about social finance, I am constantly reminded that it’s not the finance that is the challenge - it’s our design.
Too often I’ll get stuck in looking at the world of “social” (business, enterprise, & finance) from one vantage point – incorporation status. I’ll start discussions based on the pros and cons of being for-profit, non-profit, or charitable. As the conversation progresses, I’ll finish with a rousing validation of why blended value is important in the world today. It’s that nugget doesn’t really sink in, because I’ve lost my audience long before I got to it. Maybe it was just a rut, but at some point I stepped back and wondered, what am I talking about? It’s important to keep the big question in sight – what is our intention in doing this work?