Creating Social Value Blog / Social Innovation

Never Underestimate the Power of a Good Conversation

Now more than ever, the need to put our phones away and give presence is being felt in all areas of our lives. As recent articles like: Stop Googling. Let’s Talk. in the NY Times are pointing to, this is no longer a challenge just one generation is facing. It’s something that is becoming so systemic it’s changing how we communicate and function in community. And if there’s one thing we believe here at The Lewis Institute, it’s that a social innovator is nothing without their community. Take the ember out of the fire and it does not last for long. We all need a tribe to keep our work moving and growing and evolving.

So, over the past years here we have been carefully and intentionally nurturing programs that create a space for students to gather with each other, faculty, staff and practitioners. A space where real, co-created, sometimes even uncomfortable conversation can take place. Two of these programs have become standard weekly practices here on campus at Babson: Good Business Fridays and Community Table. (You can read about how the Community Table model has expanded in this post from Food Sol Director Rachel Greenberger here.)

This act of connection as a practice has revealed two key things. 1) Connection is just that, a practice, and can be strengthened and cultivated with continual, incremental commitment. 2) Once that spark of true connection is felt, you can’t help but want more of it. In this way, a self-fulfilling cycle of positive change is born.

I hope you’ll join us this semester for a Good Business Friday, Community Table, and our newly launched MBA Impact Hour each month. Or keep an eye out for other events coming up where you can experience this for yourself. In the mean time, here’s how the last three Good Business Friday conversations sparked our community with insights from guests implementing social innovation in all arenas:

Sept 25 – Greyston Bakery, one of the most noted social enterprises, shared how they are positively disrupting traditional employment practices with their emblematic open hiring process. Their mission says it best: They do not hire people to bake brownies, they bake brownies so they can hire people. Their influence has had enormous social impact within the Yonkers community and beyond.

Oct 2 – Thandi Tutu-Gxashe shared her father Desmond Tutu’s vision and the story behind Tutudesks. The Babson community jumped right in to help think about how to scale this social enterprise to reach their goal of 20 million Tutudesks in the hands of African children. This social innovation is a simple and elegant solution to increasing literacy among African youth.

Oct 9 – Paul Kruchoski, Deputy Director of the Collaboratory at the State Department came and talked about innovation and entrepreneuring inside of government. We talked about the powerful role that government can play in activating change with business and how the problems that he faces require entrepreneurial responses. Great insights were revealed as many came to the conversation seeing government as a constraint not an opportunity for change.

Again never underestimate the power of real and relevant conversations! Getting in the habit of seeking out these connections purposefully and intentionally allows for reflection in ways that push thinking, connect dots and steer non-linear journeys which we believe are crucial to the success of any entrepreneurial activity.