I have met several social entrepreneurs from Europe and Americas. I have learnt about very interesting projects and ideas and how they started their business. And about the daily challenges of funding, administrative issues, finding the right team members and the right people to talk to in the industries. Convincing others to change perspectives and to adapt the business world accordingly.
One person I talked to was Sam. Sam tries to integrate disabled people into normal working environments. But this is just the visible part of it. Behind there is a huge need to identify possible working places, contact employers, convince them, to create win- win outcome, connect with disabled people and to find pro bono partners.
And his biggest challenge?
Sam told me about manager and managing barriers in the huge companies, the “ones who are part of the ‘other’ world. But it’s not about the unreadiness of level A manager ones or that they are unwilling to help. They often feel the need and are very interested and open to these ideas. The real problem is to make things really happen in large hierarchical and department wise structured industries.”
Unfortunately, this should happen where the human networking, the personal contact among the social entrepreneur and the company middle manager has never taken place. No direct communication, no direct emotional involvement, no real enthusiasm. The initial social change ideas have been placed in the upper management level and been hidden there, these convincing and passion creating ideas have never been discussed with the managers who are responsible to implement them. What managers of the middle level hear are things such as new tasks to do, additional work, an extra burden in addition to the daily work. But if there is no emotional involvement, if people do not feel the passion to change, the outcome will be reduced to a task-driven one, not a passion-driven one. And to a pure task managing process.
These middle managers judge these tasks just from their own perspective and try to integrate them in their daily work stream. There is no real change, no innovation. They have to overcome a kind of “big thing coming from outside” and fear to fail. The reaction is the normal one: defending own territories, fearing the lack of knowledge and answering with the traditional “I am used to” thinking. Block. Stop.
But wait: These are also emotions and feelings. Personal goals. Fears, security thinking and …
“The other world”, he said … but is this not everywhere the same?
Maybe the main reason why we seem to live in different worlds does not exist. Probably, communication and idea exchange should involve more than ever also those people who at the end are responsible to implement.