Social enterprise glossary

I’ve designed this glossary to help social enterprises and non-profit organizations in South Africa think clearly about their strategies and business models.

Strategic clarity involves clear thinking, and clear thinking requires clarity of language. Many of us also rely too much on jargon, which clutters our minds and encourages lazy and fuzzy thinking.

Here is some of the terminology that I regularly use in my consulting practice and lectures, and my short descriptions of what each term means in simple English.

Thoughts on the Social Economy Strategy in South Africa

The South African government is busy developing a strategy to help cultivate the social economy in the country.

I’ve been fortunate to contribute to the strategic process – I’ve been interviewed several times and shared some written insights with the project team.

At the time of writing this article (February 2019), the government has commissioned a Green Paper on the Social Economy – a draft set of policy proposals for discussion. Green Papers tend to be followed by White Papers or official policy documents.

Since this strategy has been on my mind recently, I took a moment to record my thoughts and share them online and with the policy team. I’m also curious about what form you think the Social Economy Strategy should take.

Governance versus management in non-profit organizations

Poor governance significantly increases the risk that a non-profit organization or social enterprise will under-perform or close down.

Yet for some reason, many governing bodies struggle to perform their duties effectively. These mandated structures seem more interested in micro-managing staff and processes, when they should be helping to lead organizations into their strategic future.

Ultimately, when a governing body stops providing effective and foresightful oversight and starts doing managers’ jobs, then the executive management team is undermined. Blind spots start to appear in the organization’s strategy. This can be fatal.

This article will explore the differences between governance and management. It will unpack what tends to go wrong and how to fix it. It will also contain insights from a lawyer I work closely with.

End-of-year reflection for 2018

The end of another year is approaching. It has been a challenging year, filled with meaningful work, many lessons and lots of opportunity. There has also been too little time to do everything I’d intended to do.

I believe strongly in the value of reflection and always do a formal debriefing at the end of the year.

Here are some of my thoughts on 2018 before I take leave on Friday 14th December to enjoy a much-needed break. It sheds some light into my work with non-profit organizations and social enterprises in South Africa, and things I’ve learned along the way.

Social enterprise: converging social and profit missions

Trialogue published the 21st edition of the Business in Society Handbook (formally the CSI Handbook) in November 2018.

I contributed to a Q&A on social enterprise. Read my answers on the nature of social enterprise in South Africa, the challenges they are facing, and the opportunities for businesses to partner with them.

Reduce overwhelm by fine-tuning your organization’s systems

Too many leaders have been consumed by their organizations. They’re too busy putting out fires to think about how they want it to run. They’re spending too much time in the “engine room” of their organization, rather than providing strategic direction from the captain’s chair.

I believe that we should learn to adequately appreciate and respect the important systems in our organizations. Then we can then begin to fine-tune them and get things running the way we’ve envisioned

There are signs of automation everywhere; fear of artificial intelligence taking jobs; and the “fourth industrial revolution” haunts the media. The good news is that if we learn to see and work with systems, then we’ll be able to benefit from these trends. We can use them to increase the sustainability and impact of our organizations.

This article will unpack my view of organizational systems and the benefits of working with them.

Keeping your non-profit organization going: which strategy do you need?

South African non-profits are struggling to generate the income they need to fulfill their purpose and sustain themselves. As such they are embarking on a mix of strategies to improve their circumstances.

However, I’ve noticed that many non-profit organizations in South Africa are confused by the differences between a “revenue strategy” or “social enterprise strategy”, an “income-generation strategy”, a “sustainability strategy”, and an “organizational strategy”. This has led to much confusion with specialists like me being asked to design one type of strategy when an organization wants and needs one of the others.

This article aims to clear up the confusion around which strategy to invest in. It will clearly explain the differences between these four strategies and indicate when each is required. It complements my social enterprise glossary which aims to improve strategic clarity through clarity of language.

A month in a consultant’s life: how I spent my time

I am increasingly obsessed with time. Maybe this is a consequence of aging. I see time moving too swiftly. I strive to make the best use of every moment.

I have conducted multiple experiments over the years to see how I can make better use of my time and be more productive at work.

This article concerns my tracking of my work time over a period of one month or 20 workdays. It will yield insight into how this freelancer (or independent management consultant) spends his time. Hopefully the results will still be useful more generally.

I also hope to address the misconception that freelancers spend all their time delivering their service. We must realize that freelancers are still running a business, and therefore need to make time for all the usual business functions within their work week.

“Necessary endings”: why we need to make them to move forward

We are all called upon to make endings in our work and personal lives. This can be a painful process that many of us postpone until it is too late. Endings can also be enabling – they can help us get unstuck and move forward in the right direction.

Learning how to end things is both a life-skill and a leadership-skill.

However, it is one of the things that my clients most struggle with – how to identify when to end something and knowing how to do it in the right way.

The book “Necessary Endings” by Dr Henry Cloud is profound and changed how I work with endings. It is the book that I most frequently recommend to clients. I encourage you to read it. This article pays homage to the wisdom in this book.

This article discusses some themes from the book that are most relevant to my consulting work. It adopts an organizational focus, while the book also explores the role of endings in our personal lives. This article will get you thinking more about the inevitability and value of endings.

Charity and philanthropy need to work hand in hand

Charity is seen as a virtue by humanists and all major religions. But it has also been polarising. Some people believe strongly in it and feel that it reflects the inner heart of humanity, while others believe that it cultivates weakness and dependency amongst the underserving. Even the ancients grappled with the very practical implications of charity.

Nowadays, the news is full of stories of philanthropists who have given their fortunes away to help others and for the betterment of society.

This article explores the concepts of charity and philanthropy, the similarities and differences, and when each is appropriate. It is not a deep dive into these topics, but rather a high-level review.

This has been one of the hardest articles for me to write. I’ve thrown out two earlier versions, started from scratch and done more research and thinking. Even though I’ve been in this field for 22 years, I’ve realized how my passion for social entrepreneurship had obscured my appreciation of charity. I’ve also learned when charity is the only moral and appropriate response to a situation.

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