John Hitchin, Renaisi’s CEO writes week notes to capture and reflect on the realities of running a social enterprise.

Connecting not competing

I’ve spent a bit of time this week trying to talk to people doing similar things to us to understand their work and try and find connections.

I’ve noticed, for as long as I’ve been a consultant, the impulse to compete. You’re encouraged, by the driving fact of your business model, to think of ways in which you can do the work, you can do it better than others, and you should do it in multiple places. Obviously, that can’t always be the case. I think that we’ve got better in recent years at knowing what we are best placed to lead on and, what we need others for. That means, we have worked with amazing associates this year, bringing skills into the team, adding capacity from people who share our values, and also working in partnership with organisations we know complement us. We have also, within the past couple of years, ended or turned down partnerships that we know wouldn’t work for us.

Moving forward

There’s one project that I’m involved with where we didn’t get something right a few weeks ago. We had started the work well, were doing some interesting research, but we presented it in a way that didn’t land. Since then we’ve rebuilt a framework for considering the problem, and brought in some different expertise to help us do that. It’s one of those instances where that problem will end up making the whole project much stronger. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m glad we got something wrong, but sometimes it does lead you to better work!

Strategy and future scenarios

We have a board strategy session coming up. It was stimulated by a need to retest our assumptions about our ambitions. It’s difficult to do that at the moment but inspired by this piece from Andy at Firetail, I have built the session around scenario planning.

I think there are a few potential scenarios for organisations like ours, and I have tried to build some out based on the short term of what we know, and the medium to long-term of what we conjecture. It’s slightly intimidating work, but feels necessary.

Reading, listening and watching

I watched Uncle Frank this weekend and, although it’s certainly not a perfect film, I enjoyed the pulling together of a few different well-worn tropes. It’s a coming of age film, a coming out film, a class film and a road-movie. I’ve always liked Paul Bettany too – even though he’s often in average films!

Mainly, I’ve been planning Christmas though – sorting out presents for the family, thinking about food, thinking about what’s possible to make it as fun as possible for small people given everything. It’s going to be a strange one this year.

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