MDES 10 - Global Social Business Summit, Leadership and Numerous Hold-Ups!

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Our Social Business weekend frenzy carried on into the beginning of the week. On Monday and Tuesday we had the opportunity to volunteer at the Global Social Business Summit (GSBS): an annual event which aims to spread awareness about social business, start discussion around the UN Sustainable Development Goals and create collaboration and networking opportunities for those in the field. The event was held in a huge tent on the grounds of Cité Universitaire with many attendees, much different to the MakeSense Room we were part of on Saturday. It was an early start for us and amongst our various volunteering positions we were able to enjoy speakers from all over, including the organiser and founder of social business, Professor Muhammed Yunus. On top of this, upon seeing the leftover catering and feeling compelled to tackle the issue of food waste, Amy, Hanna, and our friend Manon took initiative and found an association, Le Chaînon Manquant, to donate the food to. Yay!

Tuesday at GSBS was simultaneously unexpected and incredible for MDES. The night before Hanna and Amy had connected with the son of Hanz Reitz (founder of Grameen Creative Lab and organiser of the GSBS.) He had last minute been tasked with conducting a workshop at the summit and felt unsure about how to go forward with conducting it.

Because our program continues refining a skillset around workshop facilitation, Amy and Hanna offered to facilitate. They did a MakeSense creativity workshop condensed into half the time of a standard Hold-Up, with a challenge of “how might we create a restaurant where customers enter and exit with a good conscience about everything they were consuming and engaged in during their restaurant experience.” The process and product of the workshop was inspiring for Hanna and Amy as facilitators. Not only was it great practice, but it also allowed them to see what Design can do in the business world: getting businessmen and students from around Europe to break out into groups and unleash their creativity. The ending presentations saw the whole group laughing, smiling and testing hilarious prototypes for the restaurant.

On Wednesday, we had a follow-up session on personality traits with Linda, where we analysed our various behavioural habits and how we might improve and adapt. The aim being that self-evaluation and awareness can make you a better leader. That evening, it was Rica and I’s turn to facilitate our very first Hold-Up, centered around solving a challenge for our social entrepreneur, Adriana.
The challenge
To build a community around her social business ‘Honesty’: a self-coaching platform for peace.

On Thursday, we got the chance to speak with Thomas Linden, a HR executive with many years of experience in leadership. He was incredibly frank and direct. Delightfully refreshing! Like a good storyteller, he roped us in with his biggest lessons about his own personal leadership journey. I was so ready for a good story.

First, he warned us to be aware that any task when scaled into bigger projects it must be realised through others. You cannot do it alone. In order to do it with others, you need to give people time to understand it, agree with it, buy into it, act on it. Second, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Thomas Linden’s 7 Tips

  1. Don’t prescribe. Instead probe or ask [avoid manipulating people, let them provide you their knowledge]
  2. Ask open-ended questions [open yourself to listening and show your interest]
  3. Give your opinion last, listen first [acknowledge that as a leader you are responsible for providing space that is respected and protected so that everyone can fully listen]
  4. Don’t provide action plan, provide a vision or challenge
  5. Be personal [care]
  6. Ask/give instant feedback [use situation/behaviour/impact conversation models to give feedback, e.g. When this happened….(situation)…You did…(behaviour)…Then, did you see what happened with….(impact). This way people can understand and become self-aware of the interaction and self-correct for mistakes]
  7. Hire the best team

We’ve been doing a lot of leadership style surveys and trying to identify with the results. Some of us feel like the answers are contradictory from who we think we are. And some of it feels scarily spot-on. But when Mr. Linden said, “I can’t change my personality, but I can be aware of my style and change my behaviour” it starts to make sense that there is no transformation. Only accommodation. All this self-reflection can be a little overwhelming, but I think we are getting stronger through.

Afterwards, during Design Thinking class, we began prototyping ideas for our event which will be held at the beginning of December. The theme: what art can do [for social impact]. We are realising the difficulties of event management and organisation but we’re embracing this process of iteration and experimentation through design, stay tuned!

The end of the week took us back to MakeSense, where Smarti facilitated her second Hold-Up with social entrepreneurs Champerché, who use bioponics to develop intelligent and urban agriculture. The challenge was also based on building community around Champerché, and was again an exciting way of using design methodologies to generate ideas, and help people with exciting and innovative projects. Personally, I feel like facilitating these workshops, along with our leadership classes, is allowing for personal development and positive change. So keep watching this space and look out for the big >what art can do< event [coming soon].