Strategy in the Social Sector

My pet subject and the one that has fascinated my for most of my studying/working life is Strategy.

Reading the fantastic biographical and historical book; Lords of Strategy provided me a glimpse into how business strategy was created in the past few decades. The MBA taught me some and my extensive reading has provided me lots of tools, frameworks and corporate histories around strategy.

However, all that knowledge and understanding does not help fully when you work in the social sector. A lot of the strategy is around competition, cost reduction, differentiation of products, marketing and operations. In general they are all useful concepts for the social sector but they fail when we pick the frameworks from the business world.

My research currently is based on understanding the social sector (government, not for profit, beyond profit) better to modify some of the business frameworks or may be create new ones. Peter Drucker has written some fantastic stuff around this. His tome Management, has some great chapters on the functioning of the government organisation. His books on the not for profit management is great. And the Leader to Leader institute continue to do the work around it. These are some of the areas to start the research on.

I think that the business model canvas from Alex Osterwalder and Customer Development framework by Steve Blank are quite useful in this regard. I just need an opportunity to use them. A lot of people in the government would not understand it or are repulsive to it.

The one organisation that I am currently familiar with in Adelaide that will be open to this is The Australian Centre for Social Innovation or TACSI. They are doing some amazing work around thinking differently in the social space. Drucker once called social innovation one of the most important and needed areas in the 21st century. I never understood that when I read it many years back in India. However, working in Families SA and having stayed in Australia for more than 6 years I am starting to understand its significance.

I think that there is a great role for strategy in this space and I am determined to work on that.

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