Creating Social Value Blog / Social Innovation

Cultivating Tribes

We’re in the middle of developing our newest Babson Board Fellows cohort and I’m starting to notice a trend as I meet with MBAs who are interested in joining the program. Whether in one-on-one interviews or group information sessions, when I ask what they’re hoping to get out of this program, most answer the same thing: “access to a group of people – both peers and mentors – who can help me develop my skills and cultivate my passion”.

This idea of people who “have your back” resonates with so many budding entrepreneurs, and is especially true for those who are looking to create social impact. One of the things we focus on here at The Lewis Institute is looking at who you need to “be” in order to create change. One of the key components of that is finding your tribe – a group of people who will help you grow and learn – and recognizing that your tribe can consist of many different types of people.

Having a cohort model is one of the biggest foundations for Babson Board Fellows. In addition to working with a nonprofit Board, Fellows come together multiple times throughout the year to share their experiences with their peers, gain advice, and support one another. We talk about everything from logistics, to resources, to navigating difficult situations. What we’re really sharing is how we can show up in the world (or, in this case, the Board) and provide value.

To be clear, this is not new thinking. In fact, enrolling other people in your vision is a big part of Babson’s methodology of Entrepreneurial Thought & Action®. And, I’m not even the only one blogging right now about the need to bring along others in your journey. The co-founders of UBELONG recently wrote a Huffington Post piece called Five Things Social Entrepreneurs Should Talk About. Not surprisingly, point #2 is “Make a friend or two.”

But, I’m heartened to see that so many current MBAs appear to intuitively understand this concept and are entering into a school of entrepreneurship looking to develop tribes for themselves. There’s a clear shift happening from the idea of a lonely social entrepreneur to a new group of people looking to create change within groups and existing systems. A shift that I believe has the power to be a strong driver of positive change, and am thrilled to be able to support through our Babson Board Fellows program.