Innovate, innovate, innovate – and social business


I am writing from Italy this week, mostly for business but also a little pleasure. I’m originally from Elba, associated in most people’s minds with Napoleon because he was exiled there. It’s my home, even though I’m mostly in Florence and Parma this visit.

One of the reasons for my visit is that StexFGiving has a sister company in Italy so among other meetings, I’m scheduled to visit them a few times. While here, as well, I’m exploring the social market in Italy. As is happening elsewhere in Europe, it is starting to gain ground, though not as quickly and assuredly as in the UK.

Conventional business means that profits come at the expense of someone or something else, but that is entirely being turned on its head by social business. Social business delivers shared value: social as well as economic value. So why is its take-up still lagging? We need to start seeing business as part of the solution to some problems.

It’s interesting to consider why the US seemed to grasp the potential for social business so quickly. It has grown into a very developed market there with thought leaders already looking ahead to see what the next iteration will look like.

I make no great claims but my hunch is that it’s connected to the fact that social business requires a different type of leadership that means being able to articulate a vision for the company.

This approach, combined with a process that combines factors like how employees interact with clients, each other, and the market is a kind of synergy: the right mix of ingredients like innovation and responsiveness, working together at the right time.

Barack Obama has gone as far as suggesting a new government agency to help socially conscious startups get access to venture capital. We can’t ignore this. The market is growing day by day in the UK, and it’s particularly interesting to see the likes of IBM powering ahead with strategies to change the way that organisations succeed and businesses connect.

This has been my 3rd blog on social business and I’ll round off by saying that by 2020, some of today’s business won’t be around. Forget future proofing, they are making a much more fundamental error: it’s not about what will change, but acknowledging what has already changed. I am convinced businesses that resist social will have a harder time surviving. You can evolve or you can be left behind, and our motto at StexFGiving is “innovate, innovate, innovate” and so I hope my week in Italy will be enlightening and I’ll come back to the UK with fresh ideas about how to further push the agenda for more social business in the UK.