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Impact: The Lovechild of Innovation and Collaboration

The power of bringing people together—reflections on TechSoup Global Summit one year later.

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Techsoup Global Contributor's Summit, February 2011. (Photo courtesy of Clara Azulay)

Three vectors inform the work of many organizations, including TechSoup Global, in today’s world:

  • Technology-driven innovation
  • Collaboration
  • Globalism

While it is possible for these vectors align, they rarely do.

There are so many obstacles to true alignment. For example, innovators tend to be individualists, not instinctive collaborators. True collaboration also demands scarce resources and can feel far less “sexy” than innovation. Meanwhile, globalism is honored far more in theory than practice, for all kinds of obvious reasons.

Still, the biggest impact results from true alignment of all three vectors. When innovative ideas harness new technologies, gain the engagement of all the needed stakeholders, and transcend the barriers of geography (language, culture, politics, income levels, etc.), we can start to imagine that our species might just possibly surmount its grievous plight.

Techsoup Global’s Contributors’ Summit, in February 2011, was our swing at achieving this alignment, in the context of both the TechSoup Global Network (TSGN) of 36 partners serving 40 countries, and a larger, small-“n” network of contributors—individuals and organizations whose work was already making our own work better. These contributors included foundations, corporations, technologists, nonprofit capacity builders, developers, and social media mavens. This post reports back on the extent to which we succeeded.

To provide some context: A key part of our organizational methodology is to periodically convene the TSGN face to face. This has become more productive (and also more challenging and expensive) as the Network has grown. By the winter of 2010 it had been more than a year since the prior convening and we felt overdue to engineer the kind of intra-Network dialogue that only occurs in person.

And this is where the plot thickened. It struck us that the TSGN had evolved into such a rich, rare, and very global resource that we could, in effect, use the 36 partners as “bait” to attract and convene a dynamic cross-section of our contributors as well. (Read a full “how the sausage was made” report on the conference).

Back to the three vectors.

We felt well positioned on globalism and innovation. Our Network is global by definition, and we have been cultivating innovation and innovators since our first NetSquared Challenge in 2007.

Collaboration on the other hand… We talk all the time internally about how much we want to collaborate, and our hearts are pure. But do we do it? Really? Well, not nearly as often or as successfully as we’d wish. I could go on and on about why we fall short of our collaborative ambitions, but the simple reality is that, when push comes to shove, the collaborative impulse can morph into, “Why don’t you collaborate with what we want to do, and do it on our terms”—and that is not really collaboration at all.

I am not saying this to indulge in an orgy of self-recrimination. Did I mention that collaboration is hard? Did I mention that we’re a nonprofit (and tend to want to do about ten times what we have funds to do)?

So we decided to organize the TSG Contributors’ Summit, primarily around collaboration. Our premise was that our crowd had plenty to collaborate around, and our job was to create the optimum structure within which they could both discover collaborative possibilities and be strongly motivated to act on those possibilities.

We asked the participants to put away their gadgets, share freely what they knew, and based on that sharing, articulate collaborative projects that could be implemented in the real world. We told them to be careful about what they articulated, since we would be on the case to turn those articulations into action. We said that the single clear goal of the summit was that there would be change directly traceable to the collaborative work we would all do together during those few days. 

Hosted at Microsoft’s Mountain View facility and brilliantly guided by Aspiration Tech’s Allen “Gunner” Gunn, we ran ourselves joyously ragged for two days pursuing an agenda that had been developed in pre-Summit consultation with about 70 of the participants.

We have spent the last few months reconnecting with participants to discover if, after a year, we had achieved our goal—of generating positive change based on actively fostering collaboration among a wide range of necessary actors.

I hereby claim success. We didn’t fully save the human race from itself (that will occur at the next summit) but we saw that if you put collaboration front and center, and put everyone on notice that the bar is set at results, some amazing stuff can happen.

There are a variety of necessary ingredients, of course. There has to be enough complementarily; identical actors compete more than collaborate. There has to be participant ownership coming in. There has to be dynamic facilitation. There has to be proactive documentation to establish a clear record of commitments. There has to be follow-up.

Mainly, though, there has to be a commitment to the need to take action toward impact (not just to listen to inspirational speakers) and to do so together (because we can’t get there separately).

The results span quite a gamut. A few examples:

You can read the full evaluation statements from Beth Kanter, Noel Dickover, Todd Khozein, Andrew Rasiej, Holly Ross, Joaquin Alvarado, and 14 more external contributors here, or excerpts from these statements grouped around common themes. You can also see what resulted within the Network, catalyzed by the gathering.

It goes without saying (though I’ll say it) that not every aspired-to collaboration came to fruition. Often, in our post-summit research, people told us that despite best intentions, the big collaborative idea that they discussed at the summit didn’t hatch or hasn’t hatched yet. But we saw what is possible when the focus is collaboration and the crowd is engaged.

I’ll close by just noting that while all the Summit participants were passionate about technology, and its capacity to abet or even drive positive change, the event itself was curiously non-technological. By asking people to disconnect, we lodged them in a specific time and place with a specific collaborative agenda. It seems like a principle that could guide a wide array of convenings!

(I really can’t close without a thank-you to Microsoft, for what they did and for what they didn’t do. They did host the event completely and impeccably, and participated throughout. They didn’t interfere in the slightest with our agenda-setting or guest list. Thank you to a great partner.)

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COMMENTS

  • BY Doug Jacquier

    ON July 18, 2012 04:56 PM

    Excellent piece, Daniel. As a participant, I’d like to take this opportunity to share publicly some of the feedback I’ve given to you personally and add a couple of points.

    To me, collaboration is a mind-set as much as a strategy and if it permeates the culture of a network, then they will come (‘they’ being the right connections).

    However, innovative collaboration (and I know I’m picking a fight with the ‘crowd-sourcing’ collective in saying this) is driven by inspired leaders, such as your good self i.e. there would be no TSG without DBH and the people you have inspired.

    In other words, someone senior in an organisation that seeks the mantle of being collaborative needs to be in charge of:
    i. building a culture of collaboration, curiosity, innovation, and ‘outside the square’ thinking.
    ii. aggregating collaboration opportunities, research and development
    iii. charting and matching the outcomes to the organisation’s strategic plan
    iv. recommending strategies for ‘filling the gaps’, assigning responsibility to individuals for implementation, and tracking progress.
    v. actively engaging their Board, management, and staff in the strategies
    vi. actively engaging a broader community of interest via social media, blogs, etc
    vii. lowering the costs of convening multiple players physically by assigning ‘explorers’ to visit cities/regions/attend conferences and meet with multiple targeted players while there.
    viii. convening face to face events like the Summit and building the invitee list from those who have shown some tangible interest in helping in specific strategic areas. This may help harvest the wisdom of the informed crowd, improve the quality of the outcomes, and keep costs to something manageable.

    As the iconic Australian band of the 70’s, Skyhooks, once sang ‘Ego is not a dirty word’ but ego-driven (and too often testosterone-driven) isolationism is the bane of nonprofits globally. Creating and nurturing a community of co-opetition to achieve tangible change in the human condition, as the Summit modestly modelled, is always a good thing and more power to that latent energy source.

  • BY Mike Yeaton

    ON July 18, 2012 09:32 PM

    Great post Daniel, and wonderful to reflect on what was a very powerful event.  I can say that the seeds of collaboration for TechSoup Asia were also born there.  When we had our workshop, I vividly recall one of our partners saying to me “Oh I get it!  We should do what we’re good at, and let others do what they are great at!”  We have been operating on the principle ever since.  This weekend in Kuala Lumpur, we are continuing this process on a smaller scale, through a design weekend with an impressive group of changemakers.

    The obstacles to meaningful collaboration are many, but to paraphrase an Australian NGO’s tag line (the men’s shed movement), great partnerships are formed talking side-by-side not face-to-face.

  • BY Mike Rudis

    ON July 19, 2012 11:55 AM

    Spectacular - The all-to-often prescribed policy of regional clusters does incentivize the “transcendence of the barriers of geography” but is critically important; Today’s inherently interconnected marketplaces make it necessary while communication technology makes it possible.

    A more interconnected global network of innovation players must collaborate.  You may find this an interesting read: http://bit.ly/networked-approach

  • Amy Luckey's avatar

    BY Amy Luckey

    ON July 23, 2012 02:18 PM

    Personally, the Summit was a great opportunity to become re-engaged and re-energized around the vast potential for using tech to create – or at least move closer toward – positive social change. It was a reminder of the immense depth of creativity and energy brought to this work by TSG, its network partners, and the many other innovators pulled together in Mountain View.  And, on a concrete level, some of the connections I made at the event have led to evaluation efforts with organizations that are expert at nonprofit tech, yet new to systematically assessing their impacts. 

    Moreover, the Summit reminded me of the perennial importance of connecting in person.  I have no doubt that positive results will continue to emerge from the many personal face-to-face introductions and re-connections that the Summit made possible.  To your sentence above, “This post reports back on the extent to which we succeeded.” I would add “…so far.”

  • Ryszard Praszkier, Ph.D.'s avatar

    BY Ryszard Praszkier, Ph.D.

    ON July 23, 2012 08:10 PM

    As an “old” Ashoka staff member I am proud that you are an Ashoka Senior Fellow, and that I had the privilege to interview you. Thank you so much for sharing with this.
    Wow! This is awesome, congratulations! What a progress!

    I absolutely agree with the 3 vectors philosophy and would be glad to discuss this concept in-depth at some point time in space and time.

    On my end: you may find interesting the Cambridge University Press book which we wrote on the dynamics of social change from the point of view of the complexity theory; includes also a section on social networks analysis (what we talked about). You can find it on amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Social-Entrepreneurship-Practice-Ryszard-Praszkier/dp/0521149789

    Currently I am involved in researching social networks supporting peaceful transitions – absolutely fascinating to dig into it!

    Once again: congratulations! 

  • BY Juan Francisco Delgado Morales

    ON July 24, 2012 01:01 AM

    Innovation, Employment & Growth: “Social Innovation” and “Real-life Innovation”

    The fact that the results we presented have been very interesting and promising future agururan work.The work of the Social Entrepreneurship involves passion, perseverance, sacrifice, commitment and a good dose of patience. And the fruits will come.
    I love the idea of working on your project. Working on a global platform to support social innovation is something that connects well with what I have been working with my team for years.
    We have developed many experiences (all in Spain and with some support from the European Commission) and would like to share it and make it available on the platform you are developing and where I like to get involved. I think our experience called “Innycia” supporting social innovation could bring specific issues to this initiative. And many others that could be developed. I describe some of them:

    Why this initiative makes sense

    In the current global economic situation, particularly in Europe, the music stopped playing and the moment of truth has arrived for many people. To remain in the game and continue to evolve, it is time for countries, governments, businesses, professionals and citizens to discover the space, talent, creativity and opportunities offered through the internet.

    But now that the music has stopped and to find a new space for all of us, it’s not enough to resort again to the usual formats and strategies that became obsolete in this new economic environment.

    A new, different and innovative vision is needed. A new way of perceiving and doing things, taking full advantage of the opportunities offered by ICT and social media. And a clear wish to set up new rules that will help us evolve towards a better world, a world more able to face the upcoming challenges.

    The key to this better world are new spaces for innovation and entrepreneurship originated in the local communiti

    The purpose of creating a network based on Social Innovation projects

    Under the slogan “The Market Place: Real-life Innovation”, new work & collaboration relationships will be created among entrepreneurs, creative & talented people, community leaders, managers, experts and the local government staff.

    These networks will have their origin in the local communities.

    A brief description of the method:  How do we want to do it?

    Our proposal is to create a collaborative environmentthat allows specific viable projects to evolve using the opportunities offered by ICT. These projects are to evolved through the local environment of businesses and through the local social & economic situation.

    Their evolution will be supported through four main pillarsthat we consider will start providing new answers in the new world we are facing:
    •Funding mechanisms, old and new (Crowdsourcing, Business Angels, etc.)
    •Business models (Monetisation)
    •Communication 2.0 (Social Media)
    •Creativity (Invisible learning processes)

    Each of these areas will be supported by experts, who will help us drill down into projects needs. This way we aim to provide answers that will catalyse these projects.

    Users, entrepreneurs, and businessmen who are already creating wealth and employment, will help us to come up with an answer to what are the new opportunities and challenges arising from the use of ICT and social networksin rural and urban environments.

    They will help us to find out if these opportunities involve the acceleration of wealth generation which will be key in the evolution of towns and their future.

    The main objective of this collaborative space is to break down barriersso that initiatives can be turned into economically sustainable projects.

    This space will help us in visualizing the actions that are being carried out in the territory and will bring out the specifications of each regional zone.

    Expert analysis

    The main analysis areasthe experts will be supporting will be the following:

    • Creativity: Resources will be provided in order to re-focus our point of view. This re-focusing exercise will be particularly useful when resolving problems, analyzing new situations, adding value, shaking ideas and re-vitalising ideas.

    • Communication and Marketing: Experts will also provide tools and skills to position our messages, achieve alliances, improve the project ability to seduce, manage brands, expand and spread ideas.

    • Funding: We will also find sources of information and resources (public, private, alternative, traditional) on how to fund our project including grants, European funds, regional funds, and new funding models among others.

    • Technology: To find and share applications, platforms, tools and anything else technology may offer to enhance our projects in any of their phases.

    Round table

    After the Project has gone through this process, it is expected that the Project leader will take advantage of the experts´ feedback. Also, each project leader will be exposed to the experts’ feedback to other projects around the table which may also be useful. With this round table format we are achieving the following objectives:

    • To accelerate the development of creative ideas adding value in the process. In this process synergies with other entities may be created and good practicesshared.

    • To become a meeting point where European people can exchange innovative ideas.

    • To attract and promote talentand excellence, both among people who wish to develop projects and agents who want to collaborate with existing initiatives.

    • To build an “ideas & projects lab”, where information and knowledge flow freely so that ideas and people can connect spreading the reach of this initiative beyond the initial group of people involved.

    • To promote an inter-discipline forumable to lead change and provide solutions to future challenges taking advantage of technology.

    Online collaboration

    In order to achieve the best results, we also propose that prior to the actual market place session, Project leaders and experts involved are able to connect via an online collaborative platform.

    This European online space will allow European people to share resources, their vision, their experiences and their ideas in the four main acceleration areas mentioned before: Creativity, Funding, Communication and Technology.

    This network will:

    • Allow the creation of a repositoryof both successful and failed ideas.

    • Promote the ability to share skills and toolsin the main acceleration areas to achieve a quick take off, development and deployment of projects.

    • Help exploring new points of viewto find new solutions to old problems.

    • Allow to connect to other peopleand agents creating alliances, ideas, new working models which will help the projects.

    The proposal builds on the experience of Andalusia

    The platform will show that technology can help accelerate the execution process of projects via the creation of links between experts and Project leaders involved in the Market Place.

    This proposal is based on the real experience of Inn&cia;, a project of the @RedGuadalinfo telecentre network, pioneer in Social innovation and recognized as European Living Lab by the ENoLL network.

    This experience is developing more than 1000 Social innovation projects using the #Innycia community, created using this acceleration methodology in Andalucía, a Spanish region with more than 8.6 million people and 770 towns. This project has achieved a return of 1.8€ per each invested €.

    We’ve shared our experience through our collaboration with Mondo digitale and their experience with the ‘Phyrtual’ network.

    It has been our experience with the work of the Oxford Internet Institute on Invisible Learningthat has taken us to this road to further expand our experience through the networks of European telecentres.

    Building a network of collaboration

    Our proposal involves the creation of an online collaborative networkamong people (clearly targeting young and unemployed people) that allows them to upload their social innovation projects, so that they can be shared.

    The platform will clearly present project indicators like monetization (business model and volume), achieved funds through different mechanisms, the impact achieved using social media marketing and the level of technological development.

    The ongoing upload of innovation projects and the constant connection between innovative people and social entrepreneurs will help building a powerful virtual communitywhere projects can be enhanced through knowledge sharing (as already described above).

    Real-life innovation

    The virtual connectivity will be highly enhanced if it is replicated in the local physical environment. This will allow an increased acceleration of the innovation process through face-to-face meetingsbeing broadcasted through the internet (streamed) & heavily promoted through social network participation.

    We propose to carry out one meeting in each country where selected projects with great social impact get together. Each country would organize their Market Place with the selected innovators presenting their projects to a set of experts who would provide feedback in the mentioned areas of funding, social media, mentoring and creativity.

    Once the country Market places have been carried out, the European Commission would organize a European Market Placefor which the best projects of the national sessions would be selected. The event would help visualize how local communities have succeeded in showing the full potential of their social innovation and entrepreneurial projects.

    In order to achieve this, the help of the different territorial networks and the European Telecentres networkwill be required.

     

  • BY Sachin Malhan

    ON July 25, 2012 08:23 AM

    Dan, as usual you identify the critical themes of our time and the forces at play with incredible clarity. Thanks! I often turn to your writing to set / validate my internal compass of action.

    One thing that I’d like to contribute, and it overlays with Dougs point, while there is a need for a culture of collaboration that pervades entire organisations there always some people, unusually deterministic, who can spot and fire the connections between organisations - ‘synapse entrepreneurs’ to cannibalise Bill Drayton’s terminology. They can see a present or future overlap area and create within it and find fulfillment without feeling threatened by what is a collective and not individual effort. It is critical to identify and let loose these type of people.

  • BY Daniel Ben-Horin

    ON July 25, 2012 03:18 PM

    Thanks for these great comments. Reviewing them, what strikes me is that “collaboration,” like “innovation,” is a concept that is hard to object to, and even harder to make real, and really impactful. On a simple level, collaboration simply means ‘working together.’ Who can be against that? But on a deeper level, time is short, multi-stakeholder decision making can be arduous, and the default often becomes “you go!”…and we’ll go…but not particularly collaboratively. Against that somewhat diminuendo backdrop, I do see people — and we at TSG are very much among them — trying to identify specific best practices that are manageable and can help us move the dial toward more true collaboration — defined as investment of complementary resources toward a consciously-shared and mutually-iterated goal.

    In that context, I want to echo Doug Jacquier’s and Sachin Malhan’s comments. There are indeed ways to seed, nurture, document and enhance collaboration. We need to name, test and support the best of these. I am curious about Ashoka’s experience with its great Change Nation event in Dublin. http://www.ssireview.org/blog/entry/tension_and_possibility_the_new_dynamics_of_change
    Maybe we can get them in here to tell us what they learned about fostering collaboration.

    I see I have some reading to do! Ryszard, I’ve ordered your book and look forward to reading it. Mike Rudis—I wasn’t aware of the Larta Inst. report; I’ll dig in and familiarize myself.

    Juan Francisco, I read your comment with great interest. And I’d like to throw a couple of questions your way: What emerges for me is a very innovative, ambitious, highly designed program that has secured some level of E.C. Support. What specifically are the forms of collaboration that you are seeking? What does it need that the TechSoup Global Network, or others could provide? And how would such collaboration provide reciprocal benefits to the collaborators? I ask these questions to learn the answers, but also to make a point. It is one thing—and a very commendable thing!—to create a great project and invite people to follow and support it. It is another thing to identify holes or obstacles between you and your goals, to identify others who show your values and who can fill these holes and surmount these obstacles, and to create a shared value proposition that can, in fact, provide the basis for collaboration. It is not that one way is wrong and the other right, but I think we need to know which is which. So where does your project stand on that spectrum?

  • BY Eduardo Bejar

    ON July 30, 2012 10:39 AM

    Great post. I agree that innovators tend to not collaborate instinctively, which brings to another issue: it’s not easy for collaboration to happen organically. Usually a convener is required to make it happen. A convener fills the gap between people wanting to collaborate and the needs and opportunities that can be addressed by these group of people. The convener, person or organization, works on identifying needs and opportunities; finding the correct stakeholders with enough skills to understand those needs and with enough connections to bring others to the table; and by creating a space (event, meeting, conference, co-working space, summit, etc) where discussions about the identified problems can take place without any distractions.

    On this particular case, I think that the summit was that place, Techsoup Global was the convener and the rest of the participants were the correct stakeholders to address the type of problems that we were discussing. The challenge, as usual, is keeping the conversation moving forward towards reaching the ultimate goal: active collaboration that was sparked by the efforts of a convener.

  • Lindsay Bealko's avatar

    BY Lindsay Bealko

    ON July 31, 2012 03:37 PM

    As an attendee of the Summit, I agree with Daniel’s self-proclaimed success at achieving the goals, and also with Amy’s balancing comment about what has been achieved “so far.” Indeed, it is difficult for real-collaboration on truly innovative ideas to happen organically (it usually doesn’t).  But with conveners and “instigators” like TechSoup Global creating the space for this to happen, the *foundation* for this collaboration can be laid. 

    If many of the same people came back for a second chance now that this foundation is laid, we would get further faster, building on the trust, connections, and mutual goals identified in February 2011. Recognizing the importance of continuity is a very important piece of this, however. Productive collaboration is built on high-trust, high-respect relationships and some shared goals (without the trust & respect, shared goals alone won’t cut it). We all went to the summit not quite sure what to expect, not quite sure if real opportunities for collaboration (not just inspiration) would surface. Thanks to great planning by TSGN, strong facilitation, and the willingness to “leave white space” on the agenda, they did. Now we have to build on it, or risk sliding backward to our individualistic/rushed/scarce resources habits.

    At the next summit, our starting point as a group (even with some new attendees) would be well beyond where we started this time, and that fact alone could lend a fantastic amount of traction to the collaborative efforts and impact.  But there is definitely a need for a convener and more importantly, a *connector* to draw the parties into the same room, create “white space” for ideas to emerge, and bring structure to follow up in the name of social progress.

    Thanks for the post Daniel, and for the opportunity to participate in TSG’s fun (and productive) “social experiment!”

  • BY David Moore

    ON August 1, 2012 02:08 PM

    The TSGSummit was a tremendous gathering of dedicated practitioners. The sheer assemblage itself was remarkable; the fact that it was all coordinated with such good vibes by Gunnar was bonus. (I’d go anywhere he tells me.) We’re a web-native non-profit org., and as E.D., it was valuable for me to be in a room with peers who are active in social media & partnerships.

    I enjoyed reading the reviews from the many expert practitioners ::

    http://tsg-summit.wikispaces.com/Impact+Statements+-+Contributors

    ... which illustrate a lot of concrete partnerships coming out. For more thoughts on how NGOs, tech firms & individual activists can collaborate, please see my post on Prof. Benkler’s research on the “networked public sphere” ::

    http://www.opencongress.org/articles/view/2493

    ... as it relates to net freedom & the stop-SOPA movement. This was a fairly unique (and thrilling) case, but it offers another case study of how collaboration happens between different entities online (from TechDirt to Public Knowledge to PPF’s sibling non-profit, Fight For the Future). Interested in hearing more thoughts, email me anytime. David at ppolitics.org.

  • Gary A. Bolles's avatar

    BY Gary A. Bolles

    ON August 1, 2012 07:54 PM

    I think the greatest opportunity provided by the Summit was the chance to bring together a variety of people from a range of different geographies and areas of focus. As we’ve found with SoCap, it’s these kinds of cross-silo gatherings that generate the most heat. Attendees learn from others in completely different arenas, and - as many have commented above - they get the opportunity to collaborate with others to scale their impact.

    gB

    Gary A. Bolles
    Co-founder, SoCap socialcapitalmarkets.net

  • BY Terry Stokes

    ON August 3, 2012 04:10 AM

    Thanks Daniel and everyone for a fantastic set of contributions

    Upon reading the title struck me immediately, in particular, the word “lovechild”. If you will permit me a lapse into Northern English vernacular, and not Northern Californian, we have a more profane word that is also a very good description of some of the challenges of collaboration. In my home town of Wigan if something is difficult to do it’s a bastard! The expression, with good flat vowel emphasis, speaks directly of frustration; the fact that something is tough to engage with and tough to pull off. I’m sure that we all have experiences of poor partnership working and unhappy alliances that upon remembering will elicit a torrent of profanities. However, I don’t want to give undue emphasis to the difficulty but rather elaborate more on why we need to keep coming back with renewed vigour to make it work despite the difficulties.

    At a practical level as a participant I found the TechSoup Global Summit an extremely uplifting and stimulating event, and although my hoped for concrete outcomes, finding a way of supporting a Lasa project, are still pending my thinking was clarified and elevated by the discussions I had with other participants. Our desire to bring good quality translated social justice information resources to people in the UK is not working in the way that we would want it to, given the lack of financial support in the present economic climate, but the ideas I was exposed to around machine translation and the innovative approaches others are taking in harnessing the passion and commitment of volunteers gives me further impetus to keep trying new ways to maintain valuable resources that are making a difference to individuals lives.

    The phrase from Juan about the fact that the music has stopped given the economic climate also resonated deeply. An expression I’m using a lot currently in the UK in conversation with other CEO’s, and anyone else who will listen, I’m happy to attribute to Karl Wilding, Head of Policy, Research and Foresight at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations - “....this is no bump in the road but these are game changing times for the not for profit sector in the UK”. I fully agree with this assessment and would add that I for one want to be keeping the company of game changers in these troubled times and can think of no better illustration of that company than the participants of the TechSoup Global Summit.

    We know it’s tough but now more than ever we need to innovate and collaborate to meet the challenges we face in these turbulent times. What we do and the positive contribution we seek to make in making the world a better place is too important not to. I also think it’s vitally important that we step up and make the difference we want to see and don’t leave it in the hands of those who got us in this mess in the first place!

    A return to North America for a final thought on the importance of working together, from Benjamin Franklin - “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.” Wise words and much overused by me currently!

    Terry Stokes
    CEO
    Lasa UK

  • BY Robin Knowles

    ON August 5, 2012 03:23 AM

    A great summary of the two days which were indeed brilliantly facilitated by Allen Gunn and I am still in touch with and collaborating with many of those I met over the two days.

    International barriers to collaboration is the big piece we need to overcome. Simpler cross border regulation and deregulation will unlock the power of technology for so many.

    Perhaps in the interest of dialogue we should see and hear more from those blocking such moves to help us understand where enlightened self-interest truly meets national or corporate self interest and where such barriers need not exist..

    It is not easy. Civic Agenda is now dealing daily with the European Unilon’s 27 nations on behalf of 5 EU countries that are running parallel technology programs for the benefit of the socially excluded all 5 funded from a single funder. We are aggregating outcomes and looking to persuade the Commissionof the benefits ofrolling out such work wider than the 5.

    This is hard enough even within a political union of 27 nations, when it comes to translating actions and outcomes across borders at the EU level.

    Where no such International body or political union exists elsewhere, I think there is always going to be huge challenge operating or aggregating above the national level.

    I look forward to your next international collaboaration and as always Daniel keep collaborating. You are a star!

    Kindets.

    Robin Knowles
    Founder
    Civic Agenda

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