a game of monopoly

get out of jail free

I have been going to a lot of meetings recently.  With partners, with investors, with Big Society ministers-kind-of-thing and I have started to think more recently…

What should I take?  Should it be the top hat or the jaguar, leaving the old boot behind? Sometimes we seem to play monopoly, sometimes win, sometimes loose.

Why do I think this?  Well it was most notably driven home for me at a recent third sector consultation event where we had some tea and biscuits, a little light posturing and then a jolly good two hours together.  In those two hours we set up a ring and then proceeded to wrestle our agendas and then  glamorously parade our scores in public.

After establishing that we were more unique than anyone else and had more vision and passion and were all round generally good eggs we calmed ourselves down with a gentle chorus of Home on the Range and went home.

I jest obviously, but not completely.

One of the joys of heading a multi-local expanding social enterprise is that you get to meet lots of people and in doing so you get to network across different sectors.  From the third sector to government, from Local Authorities to large corporates, from our staff to high net worth individuals – we learn to speak the language of each sector and, as T S Elliot put it, ‘to make a face to meet the faces that we meet’.

One of the things that constantly amazes me is the fantastic ‘can do attitude’ that I am presented with in the businesses driven by money and owned by individuals.  One mantra from one of my business partners in a FTSE 30 company is always “this IS going to happen, so what needs to be true to make that a reality”.

So often sadly, that same attitude is not present in the traditional voluntary and statutory services sector.

Do you know what?  We are unique in our vision, hopes and aspiration for the world, but we’re not the only ones who can deliver social transformation and (shhhhh! Don’t tell anyone this bit… Shhhhhh) we are not always the best or most efficient.

I guess what I’m thinking is that VCFS, corporates, high worth individuals, investors in the city, local community groups, the government, and local authorities… none of them (or we) have a monopoly on the good stuff.  On offering hope and transformation.  We are all operating on the same monopoly board and before we shout about other people working in silos we have to ask if, at least attitudinally, we are innocent of all charges.

Is that not what the Big Society is kind of all about…?


About Sarah Dunwell

Sarah Dunwell is executive director of Arena Partners and has twenty years experience in the corporate and business sector. After a number of senior roles in customer service and retail management, Sarah led her own successful catering business and is experienced in business turn around and SME growth. Sarah has a particular interest in the role of robust business planning and development in the not-for-profit sector. Her passion lies in seeing social businesses grow successfully and sustainably through creating mature businesses that deliver strong social agendas.
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