I’m not part of Generation Y. I’m not part of the older generation either.
I am neither a scientist nor a sociologist but I observe the world as it is and I try to have an impact in it.
I am not really a specialist in any particular field. At most, I am a good generalist. What I do is connecting the dots, creating links, bringing well-being in environments in which I try to create value. Some would say I bring resilience.
Not so long ago I had to decide what to put on my business card. I finally combined two ideas, so I wrote Lean & stereo contractor/facilitator. Indeed, I had knocked for almost 10 years on the door of the social economy, which has become social entrepreneurship and which continues to mutate to meet the demands of markets that do not raise the interest of the private sector but that are neither big enough for the public. The third which often has grassroot origins.
The testimony I would like to make is that of front-line actors for whom the world is full of opportunities and who humbly seek to be an actor of change at a time when everything is accelerating.
The values that I carry and tried to synthesize in my business card are those of agile actors. Lean means going through iterations before setting-up a comprehensive plan and establishing a strategy. The concept of stereo relates to the progress made in the world of 3D capture. Virtual Reality (VR) has a lot of facets including stereoscopy, which has existed since the film era.
Back to Care Change, I have always had the feeling of being able to change the things surrounding me. The challenge is to see if I could scale-up and bring this change to a larger environment. It has been a year now since I have been able to free myself from the stress of working on a project, for a boss and a structure. I work today to find projects in which I have the leverage to validate assumptions while bringing intrinsic value to the holders of such projects.
My approach is pretty simple. The assumptions I want to validate are always more or less similar. As a citizen and practitioner I am able to describe and initiate a project to make it readable for an environment at the crossroads of 3 areas: the Private Sector (PS), the Powers public and the World Philanthropy (MP)
Today what I thought was possible, what I long sought to free myself from -the stress- seems accessible, so I want others to find their space of expression. I work to make this state of mind possible every day. Today I can choose the missions in which I want to invest time, so I have found a balance, albeit fragile, that allows me to concentrate in making the World as I imagined.
I am not telling the story of a guy who left his job because he was burnt out or the story of a guy who had enough of his life in the private sector. I will not tell the story of the social worker exhausted by a heavy administrative and institutional burden. The story of a guy who, day after day, limited the capacity of the frontline actor tired of solving everyday problems and not recognizing that it was social action fueling those resources. Make sense.
This is to deliver the testimony of a player who can move from one side of the mirror to the other. Who moves from the private to the public just to give meaning to his quest.
The work experience and job sequence that I want to share takes place in the days when I worked with a broker specialized in construction insurance. I was managing customer records. We worked 40 hours a week but had the right to an extra day off per month. Which made a total of 12 days per year.
This broker job was clearly outside my reflection area but allowed a true stability and switch to the private sector.
12 days to take a leave or to invest in something that made sense. So I had the opportunity to participate in the first edition of the Belgian Ashoka Impact Program (www.belgium.ashoka.org/programme-impact). I became the coach of a project that was already present in France, Spain and Ireland. The Associative Group Siel Bleu (www.sielbleu.org) is an organization that offers Adapted Physical Activity (APA) to seniors. The project I was in charge of was called Gymsana in Belgium (www.gymsana.be).
We were the winners of the Impact Programme 2013. The aim of the program was to change the scale of 12 projects through a program of 3 months.
My mission was focused on the working process to streamline the activities of this programme in Belgium. The model copy/pasted the mode of development practiced in France in other APAs. Siel Bleu had teaching and training materials available to us. But the difficulties in Belgium came from plural sources of funding and the complexity to articulate a coherent budget in the 3 regions of the country.
Siel Bleu made its mark and became an Ashoka Fellow thanks to its ability to offer measurable impact of the activities that stakeholders were proposing. I discovered the rating of Social Return on Investment (SROI) and the inspiration of Fellows, who were ambassadors for change and storytellers capable to trigger the adhesion of other stakeholders to the project. This scientific validation early became the highlight of Siel Bleu and APA quickly convinced the European authorities and the French commissioner Michel Barnier. The Group has experienced a strong growth and has little by little gained respect thanks to its ability to offer an alternative to current standards of care of the elderly. Mainly for Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s. But also for type 2 diabetes.
Throughout my rather rich career, I learned in Les Petits Riens (www.petitsriens.be), a Belgian non-profit organization that fights against poverty and exclusion by providing value to second hand goods in order to create economic activity and finance social actions. At Gymsana I understood how to build speeches and tools for impact and offer innovative and disruptive solutions over existing standards.
During the transition phase which settles and throughout a period of 20-30 years, I will have the opportunity to witness the transfer of an associative model starting at local grassroot initiatives, towards integration companies in search of a model less dependent on public funding: the social economy. I have seen the sector evolve with the emergence of social entrepreneurs now called ChangeMakers. They are capable of measuring the impact of efforts on topics of interest with value propositions ever more innovative. And today I am involved in a project that may be a Makestorming in 2017, a Brussels FabLabs Network (RBF) which aims to reclaim capacity changes with digital support, either Soft or Hardware. The OpenSource nourishes the hope of individuals to associate and MAKE. Make community, make sense, know how.
If a paradigm shift is possible is because individuals set the path. This transition is more fluid today thanks to the flux of information and initiatives that tend to liberate innovation for the Common. Propriety licenses, which hitherto created value not for the common good but primarily for the private interest, shatter today. A generation now organizes to make the creation of common property among peers possible. Michel Bauwens, a Belgian citizen, may certainly be recognized as a theorist of this movement for the emancipation of the current model. And FabLabs like BioHackerspace are probably places where ChangeMakers have access to the tools that move the lines.