This post is one in a series of 5<5 posts that document pilot/prototype projects with the format 5 things that I wish someone had told me before I started in <5% of the time spent on the project.
Mission-driven and double/triple bottom lines demands accountability to multiple stakeholders. Even with the best intentions and planning, most situations that one encounters in business cannot be predicted. Doing "business" at the intersection of money and meaning requires navigating uncertainty and making tough decisions in complex conditions.
SocEntEthics provides a framework to navigate these kinds of decisions by adopting an analogous approach to clinical medicine. In medicine, physicians and clinical teams often face difficult decisions that require balancing benefits and harms, reconciling patient preferences and clinical options, and determining how best to proceed amidst uncertain outcomes. Bioethical frameworks guide clinicians in navigating these difficult situations. SocEntEthics empowers social entrepreneurs to create values-based frameworks and strategies to navigate uncertainties, to take effective action in complex situations and to negotiate values conflicts.
- Finding leaders who have insight that good intentions may not be sufficient to navigate the uncertainty and value-laden decisions at the nexus of money and meaning is rare.
- It is JUICY when you meet someone who has the courage to build a vision of robust principled decision making into the operations of the enterprise/product from the outset!
- Selling "certifications" makes it easy for enterprises to justify budget allocation for this kind of capacity building and peer/social pressure may drive adoption that creates a viable market for the "certification" product. Duly noted that the viable business here may not transform how decisions are made and/or cultivate the capacity to make deliberate decisions-- so buyers and sellers should be aware whether they are opting for an approach that satisfies "compliance" and "checklist" needs or whether they are baking change into the core of their operations.
- Waiting until integration of an ethics-driven framework is recognized as "necessary" may be too late. A social mission enterprise that adopts a principled approach after things go wrong and/or after well into operations will have to fully integrate this approach throughout its operations and will need both bottom up engagement and top down commitment. The effort and investment to rebuild trust and reformulate culture may be challenging and significant at this stage.
- Open source methods and strategies provide a template and idea source, but every enterprise is unique with its own culture and benefits from building its own values-driven framework that suits its operations.
- At some point, when working through the "values" that underpin a socially-driven enterprise, there is a murky phase in the process. It feels uncomfortable and nebulous. People who like to "execute" get antsy. This is a good time to take a break. Normalize the inclination for "action" and "outcomes" and underscore the importance for the group to sit in the messiness of this uncertainty. Go out for dinner, have drinks, take a walk, go on an outing to a museum. Tell people that it's normal to feel unresolved. Actually, it's essential.
- Operations: Policy Advisory Board
A social enterprise recognized the importance of this issue for its pioneering venture from prior to launch. A policy advisory board was formed to support the team navigate these "tough" decisions. The policy advisory board included multi-disciplinary professionals who represented the diverse stakeholders and constituents of the enterprise. All policy advisory board reports and methods will be shared with open source/cc license. (currently in publication)
- Operations: Conflict Management for Coworking Space
Original posts from Posterous at www.socentethics.com when this idea was initially launched can be found consolidated here.