Connecting Markets for Social Good

By Courtney Haynes
Saturday, June 13th, 2015

It’s always a daunting task organizing Hope Street Group’s Annual Colloquia. This past May event was technically my sixth (which is hard to believe) and while my roles have varied from logistics to recruitment to content generation, every year, instead of getting easier it proves to be a more significant challenge. And every year, while I evaluate with the team and participants, I search for various pros and cons regarding the event execution and impact, including that one core principle to found the development and agenda of next year’s event.

On one hand, planning for a more challenging and complex event is a positive feat. Every year, new relationships are forged, work and progress evolves and there, in most cases, are institutions or networks working on the issues discussed. This year however, required planning to go deeper than previous years and focus more on implementation and blueprint development rather than the usual idea generation dialogue. In almost all cases, participants of Hope Street Group’s network agree on the fundamental direction of where our nation needs to move across education, health and jobs. However, the ‘how-to’ plan often gets jumbled in the mix of signing off on recommendations shared with policy leaders or change-agents, leaving the action items to be developed or executed by other parties.

This year’s Colloquium started here, taking previous recommendations and honing them down to develop steps for execution and what we at Hope Street Group call “Acceleration for Social Impact.” Before the specific breakout groups–focused on four topics that notably affect and/or have been used across education, health and jobs–participants were able to hear innovative methods to frame and solve social good challenges from an expert panel of business and market leaders. The panel demonstrated pathways to mimic market driven approaches to problem solving, connecting the right stakeholders to ground movements in evidence, supported by technology and led by essential market changers that have the ability to shift behavior. This is a complex, and often different and overwhelming perception change compared to how social good and social variable issues are usually addressed. Unfortunately, in the current environment, change-agents are limited in their solving problem scope. Yes, while unwavering and essential execution is constantly generated, most organizations are met with limited resources, information, technology and human capital to make sustained and transformative change.

Noting the common elements needed to broaden problem-solving tactics, the panel offered a fresh perspective that hit a chord with the participants I have spoken to following the event. The resonation and agreement of what is needed was apparent and while there is significant interest to solve problems through market interventions, it requires continued dialogue and know-how across market changers including innovators, technologists and private sector enforcers with those on-the-ground, seeped in the reality of practices that are working, are not working or could work.

While the 2015 Colloquium broke the mold by integrating education, health and jobs experts across all four breakouts, we kept the technologists, media gurus, community steward champions, etc. in a breakout group more narrowed to their current work. I’ve since found, that this prevented some in the community and media group from identifying the best implementation steps to actually change market practice. There is a significant need to not only merge thought leadership and action plan development across policy topics but across sectors.

Every year, I learn more and more about what works for the Colloquium and what can be improved, and for this year, the core principle is to continue the integration of those leaders and change-agents who attend and participate in our network. We must connect the dots and level the playing field so that access to this information and expertise is prominent and viable. This fundamental notion is essential to Hope Street Group’s organizational impact strategy and we will continue to plan these opportunities for our network to feel confident and connected into the larger blueprints for change.

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