Social Enterprise Australia

Building a Shared Direction for Social Impact + Sustainability

The Organisations: The launch of Social Enterprise Australia is an important milestone in the process of developing a national strategy for the social enterprise sector. As the peak body, they connect the sector to plan, act and learn together. This means they have a shared national strategy and voice, and can support members to develop new ways to improve social and environmental wellbeing. 

Why building a shared direction matters: Revealing levers of change and intervention points within systems begins with identifying key stakeholders and their interrelationships, mapping the system in which they’re embedded, and co-creating strategy where pathways from vision to action are clear, meaningful, and fit for purpose. Understanding the world you’re in, what it is you want to do, and what it is you are best placed to do requires dedicated space and time for reflection, dialogue, and sharing insights about what works, for whom and why.

How we helped: In supporting this national strategy development process, we experimented with a variety of options for engaging the broadest possible range of voices and co-creating something that was meaningful and valuable for those in the sector. This included sector-wide co-design with representatives from social enterprises; a range of academic and research organisations; investors; philanthropic groups; government; and NGOs, as well as integral state and national networks. 

Guiding our approach was a commitment to core principles of good collaborative practice. These include valuing diversity; striving for open and honest communications; respecting the views and experiences of others; recognising the mutual benefits that come from working together; and being brave and courageous in our vision for the future. These principles led us to implement a range of approaches, including:

  • online workshops with hundreds of voices to shape a shared vision, mission, and values and collective principles of practice
  • working groups charged with the responsibility of sense-making workshop findings, and making considered choices about what and how to feedback insights to the sector
  • online surveys to canvass reactions, suggestions, and modifications for emerging directions
  • focus groups with engaged individuals to deeply explore what it might mean to work together and the organisational infrastructure for the new national peak body