KK @ Impact 100 Thinking Aloud – The Coming Transformation of this Newsletter2014-01-15 12:00 am
In this issue, I would like to share with the readers some ideas that I have in transforming this Newsletter into something different and, hopefully, more powerful and useful.
As I am thinking aloud, I welcome and treasure your inputs. Please don’t hesitate to write to me if you agree or disagree with me, or have even better ideas.
A bit of history
This Newsletter was started in June 2007, that is five and half years ago. During this period, the field of social entrepreneurship in Hong Kong has witnessed a major transformation. Indeed, we have seen a growing number of new social enterprises and the maturing of some established ones. The entire field has become much more dynamic and full of opportunities and possibilities. The most significant development has been the emergence of a growing number of social entrepreneurs with diverse background.
The original target readers of the Newsletter were those who were interested to learn more about social entrepreneurship. As such the topics chosen were mainly of general interest.
Since then, many of the readers have become social entrepreneurs and/or supporters of the movement in various capacities. Their interests might have changed significantly and what the Newsletter could offer them might also have to be changed. For a long time, I have resisted making major changes as I feel that there is still a significant number of relatively new readers who might benefit from general interest topics that the Newsletter offers.
Making the choice
Now it seems that time has come for me to make a choice. There are at least two options (if not more):
a) continue as it is, and risk losing some of the readers who have now become more seasoned practitioners; b) change the contents and focus to better address these readers and risk losing the more ‘general’ readers.
Either way, there is the risk of losing some of the readership. My current tendency is in favor of the second option. I would like to see if I could turn the Newsletter into something that will serve the needs of the practitioners, something that would provide them with useful information, insights, ideas, even
challenges that could enable them to do their work better or prepare them for creating greater impact.
Moreover, I would like to see if I could use the Newsletter to enable the readers to connect among themselves, so that they could provide mutual feedback and support as well as explore collaboration and synergy.
It was clear that up to this moment the Newsletter format is just ‘one-to-many’, and as such its power if limited. But if we can make it ‘many-to-many’, the impact will be far greater.
How all this could be done is still very much up in the air. But it seems to me that the changes are necessary, if not overdue.
The implication of the above is that the ‘new’ Newsletter will have a narrower focus in terms of readership. But who will be these readers?
I am thinking aloud. How could I identify a group of readers that I could focus on?
My current idea hinges on what I tentatively call: ‘Impact 100’. I want to identify 100 people who are actively contributing to grow the field of social entrepreneurship in Hong Kong. These include practicing social entrepreneurs, aspiring social entrepreneurs, as well as ‘enablers’ of various sorts, such as impact investors, platform organizers, teachers and mentors, policy makers, thought leaders, etc.
Is it possible to identify 100 of such persons? I tried to do the list. To my surprise, the list is longer than 100. I was amazed. This is a critical mass of individuals who will be shaping and transforming the field. How wonderful to be able to work alongside them?
Naturally we do not want to stop at 100. But starting with this number and then growing it day by day would be something heartening to witness. When we come close to 200, we could change to a bigger number, say, 500. In any case, focusing on a defined group of individuals would enable us to better target our information and messages.
What about those who are not included? We will not abandon them; many of them might join the rank in due course. We will continue to allow them access to the Newsletter unless they choose to unsubscribe themselves. But we will make it clear that the contents of the Newsletter will be tailor-made to those who are more actively involved in the field.
If you have better suggestions, I would love to hear them.
When to make the change?
It will take some time to prepare for the changeover. So it would not happen overnight. Indeed, the ‘change’ will not be an isolated move. In fact, I am contemplating something bigger, of which the Newsletter is a small but integral part.
Just think about it. If we could indeed identify a group of 100 people who are collectively developing the field of social entrepreneurship in Hong Kong, it would be our duty (in a strong sense of the term) to think of ways for this group to know each other better, to learn from each other, to support each other, to create synergy together, etc. etc.
Hong Kong is a city big enough to have a sizable population yet small enough for everyone to be within a couple of hours of commuting distance. This provides an extremely favorable environment for face to face interaction and fellowship. Unfortunately, there have not been any serious or systematic attempts to leverage this opportunity. Quite a few of the 100 people do know each other; but many of them don’t. Even for those who know each other, there are few opportunities for sitting down for in-depth discussions. When I think about the situation inside mainland China, our counterparts there do not have this ‘luxury’. Even compared with Western countries, Hong Kong actually has the highest density of social entrepreneurs per square kilometer.
So I am thinking of ways to somehow build strong connection and bonding among this 100 people. I will consider a variety of ways, both online and face-to-face. For example, it would be good to have an online platform for this group to share information, experience and insights. The platform has to be creatively designed and administered so that it will not require a lot of work from the users and yet handy enough for anyone who want to use it. I would also like to use this platform to enable ‘open sourcing’ of knowledge and tools that could be shared among the group. For example, I will volunteer making available all my PowerPoint presentations online which could then be read, used, or circulated by all users. I would encourage all members of the group to do the same.
Apart from the online platform, we must also have periodic face-to-face gatherings for in-depth exchange and building of fellowship. For example, we could convene one or two day-long retreats every year for the purpose.
It is thus clear that the changes in the Newsletter will only be part of the effort to build and leverage the growing critical mass of changemakers in the community.
Inspiration from Jack Ma of Alibaba
Jack Ma of Alibaba fame was named ‘Person of the Year - 2013’ by the Financial Times of London. This is in recognition of his success in making Alibaba the most successful online company in the world. Scarcely 12 years in operation, it has a turnover greater than Amazon and eBay combined. The main reason behind his success is of course his ability to leverage the internet to revolutionize online retailing in China.
I am not a great fan of Jack Ma. But his legendary success makes a major impact on me. I tell myself: information technology is changing the world fast, as Alibaba’s success testifies. If we as advocate of social entrepreneurship could not creatively leverage the internet, what we could achieve will be very limited. The world is changing fast and our challenge is getting bigger day by day, we must leverage whatever tools available to create ever large-scale impact. It will not be easy, but we have no time to waste.
Your feedback will be most welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org
Impact100 是一個為推動香港社會企業發展而設的互動平台，目的是讓一班致力推動社會創新及社會改革者互相認識、學習、和支援，從而擴大他們的影響力 。 Impact100的召集人為謝家駒博士，項目由仁人學社和PMM Media 共同參予製作。
最近的文章程子俊－重塑資本主義概念 盧子健：願中國成為公民社會 姚子樑—辦社企不是一個社會企業家的事 Daniel Epstein人心中的巨人 黃永隆 －簡單綠 ，負全責
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