Jargon-watch: things I learned last week…

3 Apr

I love a bit of jargon as much as the next person; the odd neologism never hurt anyone, and it can be very entertaining…and just occasionally, even be insightful or make sense. And the social enterprise arena is prime territory, so I kept my ears and eyes open for gems over the course of Voice 11, Oxford Jam and the Skoll World Forum. Here’s some new, old and updated that stayed with me:

1) Crowd-so(u)rcerers: A term to be applied to genius socially-motivated tech types who use crowd-sourcing technology to solve social problems. eg. Patrick Meier of Ushahidi

2) Risk literacy: This was used by Larry Brilliant (the excellently-monikered former head of Google.org), and I prefer it to the normal ‘risk-aversity’ or ‘risk-awareness’ terms. As Mr Brilliant puts it:

“We need a whole new generation of leaders, leaders who are cross-trained in governance, who understand risk literacy, who can communicate complex problems in simple ways, who truly believe in democracy, and who are willing to engage with their constituents in a way that ups the conversation. So people know what the hell they’re voting for.  And what the consequences and the risks that they’re taking on. We’ve reached the stage where the public is being used as if it were the ultimate re-insurer. What happens when a nuclear power plant us built on an earthquake fault and things go bad? It’s paid for by the tax payers in ways that we haven’t contemplated. Who has done the risk cost benefit  analysis of continuing to use fossil fuels? So these are not things that we normally train students with. It’s a shame but I think that the three “r’s” of reading, writing and arithmetic must have a fourth “r” added: risk; as we understand the ever-more risky world that we have inherited and the complex interrelated-ness of the factors that lead to it.”

More on this here.

3) Impact investing: Ok, this is less new, but it was big news this week just gone. Now that JP Morgan are talking about this as a $3 trillion dollar market….(something described at one event last week as “outrageous or smoke-and-mirrors, depending on where you’re coming from”)…there is a massive amount of interest. As ever, Paul Cheng and Venturesome are ahead of the game, and they came armed with the Impact Investor’s Handbook which does a better job than I ever could of explaining the term and the field.

4) Deep Leadership: the title of a session at the Skoll World Forum which featured Desmond Tutu and Paul Farmer (of Partners in Health) amongst others. Though Skoll is prohibitively expensive for most, like TED it combines that exclusivity with accessibility online, so check out this and other videos on the SWF site; you can read Farmer’s speech (about Haiti) here. And this was looking at the ‘interior dimensions’ of leadership, which sounds a lot more pretentious than it was; certainly for many social entrepreneurs and leaders of social change, it’s an internal journey as much as an external one.

5) Intergenerationality: Interesting session on this at Oxford Jam, led by Volans, which changed the meaning of the term for me from “between generations currently living” (i.e. the usual way it’s used here is for bringing kids / older people together via a project / building etc) to “between generations alive now and those generations who will come after us”. Which changes the perspective radically in terms of legacy, innovation, business models and much more (see Volans’ website for more on this)


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