I think our bias at SCP has always been towards action and perhaps that's the most important aspect of our "how". Our belief is that we can learn more by "doing" than we can by "thinking" although we also believe that the two must be interconnected if we are going to have the most impact. That generally means we agree on a theory of change which is not necessarily supported by formal research, we test that theory of change through action, we step back and ask ourselves "what did we learn from that action?", and revise our theory of change to begin the next cycle again with more action.
The three phases of our evolution since inception illustrate "how" this works. In Phase 1, we started with the notion that the best way to help people who face employment barriers get meaningful work was to employ them in "purpose-built" social enterprises. We worked with and helped arrange financing for a number of these social enterprises in our first 5 years. After five years of doing this we came to the conclusion that if we were going to have more impact we were going to have to both engage the private sector and make what we were doing more cookie-cutter.
That led us to create our franchise financing/social hiring program. Implementing that taught us that there was an even bigger opportunity to have impact by changing the way the Human Resources function operates in large companies with lots of entry-level positions with good career paths. That has led to a new business plan for our "Corporate Community Hiring" initiative which you will be hearing more about in the coming months.
One of the things we've realized over our evolution is that while our strategies seem to have evolved rationally, their path was anything but. Our bias to learn by doing, reflect honestly, and act often has fortunately led us down a path where that allows us to build on our past successes and learnings. So my guess is that at some point there will be a Phase 4 based on the learnings we glean from this most recent plan of action, and the cycle will begin again.
Posted by Bill Young on Friday, February 12th, 2010