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Corporates & The Creation Of Social Value: Why We Shouldn’t Expect A Football Player To Perform Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony

Tuesday March 22nd, 2016

By Daniel Bridgewater

If you’ve read any of my previous blogs, you know that I’m a fan of a vivid image, metaphor or analogy to get the ball rolling. Government Opportunities

Well, this time, I just want you to picture David Beckham’s reaction if you asked him to play Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony on a grand piano

The fact is, you just wouldn’t ask or expect him to be able to do it. That isn’t his area of expertise and – assumedly – not an area he is naturally gifted at. He hasn’t spent years learning to play the piano and perfecting his skill like he has with football.

I used this idea in a previous blog and it stood out to me.

I had a friend ask me “why would a corporate, who employs people to write bids and manage the bid-writing process, contract a third party to help them create social value?”

Well… here’s my response:

I see, meet and work with trailblazers that create real and genuine social value/social change/social impact or whatever you want to term it.

These are people that are creating social enterprises or charities, identifying the real problems and finding innovative ways to solve them.

Not only have I ran, worked with at a trustee level and supported organisations that do this, but I have been part of them: leadership programmes that inspired me, employment programmes that guided me, enterprise programmes that equipped me etc.

All this social impact was created because the people wanted to do something to solve a problem.

They then became experts. They developed their skills. They built their networks. And the more they did, the more they understood the problem they were trying to solve.

The Social Value Act 2012 explicitly talks about how commissioners should be getting bidding companies to show how they will ‘improve the social, environmental and economic wellbeing of an area’.

To ‘improve’, action needs to take place. Something actually needs to happen.

It is only logical to ask people with experience creating social value and making action happen, to do so. It is also problematic when we expect those that dont have experience in doing this (i.e. bid directors) to become experts over night, just because a piece of legislation is passed.

Hero is built by and made up of people that have spent their whole professional careers creating social value. Whether that be through their own social enterprises, community groups, sitting in leadership positions or working for charitable organisations.

In the same way we wouldnt expect a football player to be able to perform Beethovens Fifth Symphony, why do we expect bid directors or business development managers to be experts at creating social value? It isnt in their blood, and the ones that were working with have only had very minimal training or guidance around it.

Now, we’re not saying the bid directors don’t have a role. Oh, they do. They’re the enabler. They know their job better than anyone else does, so they should enable these kinds of organisations to create the social value in line with the what they know and understand.

Third parties, like Hero, have social value coursing through their veins. It’s logical that an organisation, person, team with experience creating social value (before it was even called social value) should help other companies do so.

So, what do you think? Do you agree? Do you think those from a purely corporate background know how to create genuine social value? Do you think it matters? It’d be great to hear your opinion!

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