Recapturing the Value of Exchange

May 24, 2012 Leave a comment

|Photo by Paul Downey||

The following post was written by Adam Pattantyus, VP for Development of EASE (Environmental Accountability for a Sustainable Earth) and friend of IISC.  Adam and his colleagues are thought leaders around integrated systems for supporting and augmenting large-scale social change.  They are also purveyors of a collaborative on-line stakeholder engagement tool that incorporates financial exchange to leverage the power of purchasing to fund community initiatives. Here Adam reflects on some of the shortcomings of social change efforts with respect to integration and recapturing and reshaping the marketplace for community and civil society benefit, for which his work with EASE is meant to provide an answer.  He also speaks to the importance of engaging cross-sectoral work in the pursuit of lasting change.

As a participant and leader in change and social change over the past 20 years, here are some typical blind spots that I see as holding back social change efforts:

  • The benefit of purchasing and advertising transaction revenue is lost or leaked out into already existing marketplaces. This often happens unknowingly as consumers fail to see the money that is captured by businesses (credit card companies, on-line purchasing platforms) that are not rooted nor reinvest in their community.  In the end, business benefits from social change more than the civil society actors.
  • There is a lack of understanding that “business” and “society” need to operate as one mutually reinforcing system.  Until this is understood the world continues its fragmentation and secularization.  This is the HUGE elephant in the room – that “social” = good, and is a victim; and “business” = bad and has all the power and uses it in immoral ways.  It is this that stalls collaboration, sharing, etc…
  • The participants in change are often not well selected or are not inclusive.  Business is often excluded, being seen as “the problem.”  If business had the power to create some of these issues then it has a force that can be harnessed to solve these same issues.
  • People are cobbling together open-source collaboration and accountability platforms that don’t operate as an integrated system, leveraging the integrated power of connection, measurement, and the market. These approaches have not been able to scale to be globally inclusive or broaden the reach and connection across issues.
  • Measurement systems are fragmented.  There are separate systems for shared measures, comparative measures and adaptive learning measures.
  • Accountability for these outcomes and measures frequently are not “owned” and managed by a trustworthy convening team.  These measures are often not transparent nor are reported frequently enough to enable adaptive response and learning.
  • Strategies for change can be idealistic and primarily rely on the good will of stakeholders to “carry the day” over the long-run, versus having mechanisms through which each participant can advance her/his/their own self-interest while advancing the overall agenda.

Welcoming your thoughts and responses.

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