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Uffe Elbaek on social entrepreneurship

Uffe Elbæk is a social entrepreneur, politician, and cultural leader in Denmark. In his knowmadic career so far, he founded the KaosPilots school in Århus, organized the World Outgames 2009, and the Change the Game consultancy. Currently, Uffe is running for a seat in the Danish parliament as candidate from the Social Liberal Party (Radikale). Last week, we met up, and he shared his views on social entrepreneurship in the “fourth sector” (metaspace where government, private, and non-governmental organizations converge):

In the Invisible Learning project, Cristóbal Cobo and I revealed that the development of soft skills are critical for success in Knowmad Society. In an era where the useful lifespan of information and personal knowledge decreases at an exponential pace, soft skills are increasingly seen as critical to help individuals navigate and lead in a perceptively chaotic and ambiguous world. When posed with the question of which skills and competencies are critical for successful social entrepreneurship, Uffe cited four key competencies from the KaosPilots program:

  1. Meaning: If you don’t understand what you’re doing and why you are doing it, your activity will fail. It is important to create meaning through what we do.
  2. Relationship: Today’s society requires more teamwork and sophisticated communication and problem-solving skills. Building good relationships with the people you work with is critical.
  3. Change: You have to be able to unlearn what you already know so that you can learn what is important in a changing world.
  4. Action: You need to produce solid, visible results.

Update: In September 2011, Uffe was elected to the Danish parliament. On October 3, he was appointed the Culture Minister of Denmark. Congratulations, Minister Elbæk!

Read more on Uffe’s work:

Apply by December 17 for the next Knowmads tribe

The Knowmads have released their new brochure, which I made available for download at futr.es/knowbro. Please give it a read and spread the word!

Knowmads is a school in the Netherlands that launched in January of this year. Much of the school — including the name itself — is based on the Knowmads concept that I shared at the Creative Company Conference in Amsterdam in 2009.

A one-year program, they are looking to build their next tribe for the February 2011 – February 2012 program. The application deadline is December 17. To get started, simply send an email stating that you’re interested to apply@knowmads.nl.

A Knowmads student is, on average, between 20 – 35 years old, willing to learn in a team setting, adventurous, curious, has an entrepreneurial attitude, cooperative and independent, value driven, innovative, responsible, and fun to be with. Moreover, Knowmads attract students from diverse backgrounds around the world. This diversity is a stepping stone to learning from and with each other.

Want to learn more? Visit the Knowmads website at knowmads.nl.

Review: Empowered (by Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler)

Book: Empowered: Unleash Your Employees, Energize Your Customers, and Transform Your Business
Author: Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler
Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (2010)

Back in August, Josh Bernoff tweeted an offer for a free copy of his new book, Empowered, in exchange for a review at Amazon. I enjoyed his previous book, Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies, co-authored with Charlene Li, so I took him up on the offer. Somehow, there was a delay in getting the book to me, and the text did not arrive until we were well into the fall semester — not a good time for a review. So, this is a little bit late, but better than never.

Over the past couple years, I have used Groundswell in my “Designing the future of education in Society 3.0” course at the University of Minnesota. In the book, Li and Bernoff write on how to integrate professional activities (and the activities of the organization you work with) into 21st century-relevant frameworks. In a way, it is a roadmap for transforming organizations from industrial to knowledge and innovation-based social frameworks that value personal knowledge and expertise:

“Simply put, the groundswell is a social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other instead of from companies. If you’re in a company, this is a challenge” (x).

Empowered builds on these ideas a bit further, focusing on new media and how they impact traditional businesses. Specifically, the book focuses on what they term HEROes: “highly empowered and resourceful operatives” — geeks and other social media savvy people that can help an enterprise navigate the Groundswell. The concept is simple. Rather than trying to manage your technological and social media footprints at the enterprise level, business managers should work to attend to their employees’ and customers’ use of novel technologies. Whereas disgruntled employees and customers can use social media (i.e., Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs, etc.) to do harm to a company’s reputation (intentionally or non-intentionally) with relative ease, companies likewise need to learn how to leverage social media to build their brand images.

Empowered is more of a manual with suggestions than clear answers on how to cope with social media — and, given the rapid rate of evolution of these technologies, the authors’ less-prescriptive pathway is welcome. What the book lacks, however, are game changing perspectives on how to lead in the world of the Groundswell. In other words, the text seems geared toward organizations that are trying to catch up rather than those that are leading social futures.

In a world of expanding knowmadic and do-it-yourself opportunities, this book is likely to leave organizational leaders scratching their heads, wondering how they will possibly keep up with their employees. Can they keep up in an “empowered” world?


Note: The publisher provided a copy of the book for review. Please read our review policy for more details on how we review products and services.

Knowmads' Western Asia Summer Course

The Knowmads (NL) are launching an interesting social entrepreneurship experience in Western Asia. I’m sharing their release in its entirety because I believe this is a worthwhile learning and praxis opportunity for developing Knowmads:

Theme: Social Entrepreneurship
This summer course is all about experiencing the Knowmads way of working. We will work with you, in a team of minimal 15 and maximum 25 internationals, on a project in Israel and/or Palestine. The project we are going to create will connect to youth, community and entrepreneurship and will have an impact for you, for the community and for the world. We call it a win-win-win project.

The 4 weeks
The project takes in total four weeks. In the first week we will get to know each other and investigate each other’s talents. By doing this we create a team that will really rock the boat. The second week we will start with creative and innovative idea development for the project. The third and fourth week we will work together on the project and make the things happen planned in the first two weeks.

Who are we looking for?
We are looking for outstanding, creative and highly motivated young people willing to undertake an entrepreneurial challenge. There is not a specific or ideal type of candidate for this course. You have to be willing to work with your head, heart and hands.

What does it cost?
The price of the course is Euro 2000,-. This is inclusive all the material, travelling in Israel/Palestine and housing. This price is exclusive travelling to (and from) Tel Aviv, food and drinks.

Why to choose Knowmads Summer Course?

  • The course is a highly specialised programme, with a strong focus on a real life case.
  • There are networking opportunities with entrepreneurs / companies / municipalities / NGO’s, also after the programme
  • You have the chance for transferring successful ideas to your own country.
  • You can challenge yourself and be coached in this
  • There is didactic quality guaranteed by Knowmads; 3?6 Knowmads will facilitate the course.
  • You will work in an International atmosphere in a truly multicultural environment.

How to sign up?

  • Apply before the 24th of June 2010.
  • Before the 26th of June we will confirm your registration; we will only start our course with a minimum of 15 applicants.

Practicalities

  • The spoken and written language of the course is English
  • During the course we will work six days a week
  • The tuition fee needs to be paid before the 10th of July. We will provide details later.

Info: send an e-mail to Pieter@knowmads.nl or call 00 31 6 814 90 700.