I’ve been thinking about what to ask as a first-round set of questions, if we are going to run another round of social enterprise seed funding competition, should we follow our existing questions? Others (such as Skoll, Ashoka, Echoing Green or the Unreasonable Institute)? Or should we rethink about the questions based on half a decade learning on the ground.
After I woke up, few questions that seem to come to my mind are…
(1) What specific changes in the future you are committed to bring about ?
Please state this in term of simple vision of clear and specific outcome and the innovation process to be developed. How would this future creates a new and better balance of social, environmental and economic development. How big is such change? ( i.e. any quantitative/qualitative indicators that suggest the scale of benefits if the innovation is successful.) How will you create revenue from such innovation?
(2) What unique insights do you have to reinvent the future ?
Please state key learning from you deep understanding of the present problems and opportunities, how are you building your innovation based on them? how might these insights lead to disruption in key stakeholder relations & behaviors, rules of the game and fundamental assumptions of the current status-quo.
(3) Why is this the right time for the emerging flow of proposed innovation ?
Please state a collection of facts, indicators, trends, intuitions and any information on the synchronicity of events, patterns and forces both at local or global levels related to the challenges or opportunities you’re working with, that seems to suggest that it is the right time for your proposed innovation to emerge and scale spontaneously without the need of excessive forces, i.e. to leverage the flow of emerging future rather than to push your way through.
(4) Why is your team the right people to make this happen ?
Please state your team’s unique quality, compassion, demonstration of commitment and your relevant relationship or partnership with external organizations that suggest that your team are the right bearer of this emerging flow of innovation.
(5) What is your strategy in prototype and scale the proposed innovation ?
Please state your strategic plan, in no more than 4 key step-by-step phases with basic time-line, in creating a rough version of your innovation in order to test, iterate and scale into different levels of implementation. How do you go from small to great. Think of a storyline in term of the growth of organization, impact and income.
I guess the questions are similar to other supporters of social enterprises, although these questions seem to redirect our attention from
the problems to the solutions,
from past to the future,
from the surface of innovation to its source,
from innovation per se to changes in its eco-systems,
from node to connections
from the concrete to the subtle,
from the use of forceful strength to the leverage of flow,
from relentless pursue of non-directional logic to balance and harmony,
from the innovator as creator to the facilitator…
and perhaps from the perspective of Masculinity to Femininity,
from Yang to Yin.
OK, the last 2 are getting strange even for me.
Perhaps we are too one-sided in the pursue of innovation, integration of the opposite polarity might be needed to fully progress with sustainability.
It seems to me that perhaps these questions should be approached as how do we allow the specific and desirable future to flow effectively into the present, and not really the other way round. I’m not entirely sure as this seems to be totally illogical but if we look at the structure of these questions, the first is focused on the future itself, the second on the its seeds or sources of mutation from current reality, the third on the elements creating a receptive environment, the fourth on the bearer of such future and the fifth on its microcosm flows from a seed to a tree or even forest, which if it is visualized as growth staircase milestones, would actually look exactly as a waterfall flowing in stages from the future as its source (right=future, left=present) with intrinsic momentum and not really from the Salmon-like path of the present which is bounded by gravity. Suddenly, Mr. Feynman’s Positron, as Electron flowing back through time, comes to mind.
I believe innovation is a natural flow of human ingenuity through time, dependent of the progress of the whole society and perhaps of planet, but independent on specific people. Innovators are simply its bearer, might affect the specifics in short-term but not the long-term generality of such flow of innovation.
Perhaps there is more to the emergence of human innovation than what our logical mind presume.
Now, writing this words made me realized that these questions can also be use for no-the-process and scale-up levels too. Also any social innovation initiatives in general. Will try on ourselves soon.
Or yet another pure morning confusion. Too much coffee perhaps?