Morethanprofitman Blog

Posted: 23 February 2015, in Blog

Are we creating an effective strategy for social enterprise in Scotland?


MTPM is not easily deflected. Let’s start where the last blog drifted off into the ether, but without the overstretched Dr Who references.

So there’s to be a strategy. Good. Strategies are good (rats, that was a Dr Who reference – promise no more). Mind you, the lack of a strategy for social enterprise in Scotland since the lapse of the last hedged-about one in 2011 hasn’t exactly held the sector back has it? Impossible to prove a negative, though – who knows what might have been achieved if there had been a strategy? Certainly not less, this sector is now so ebullient and possessed of such growing confidence that it couldn’t now be held back even if some miscreant future government tried to ban it. Having written that sentence MTPM is quite intrigued by the thought of an underground social enterprise sector, a bit like ‘Allo ‘Allo! but with social purpose. Oh, hold on a minute, the resistance did have social purpose didn’t it? We digress.

Ok. So could more have been achieved if there had been a strategy this last four to five years? Mebbe’s aye, mebbe’s naw. The important thing is that if there’s to be a strategy, then it needs to be done right, if it’s to be done at all. The current draft doing the rounds is excellent, beautifully crafted and covering all the bases, and the steering group is all the usual suspects.

All good but not enough. The key thing about a strategy is its owner. The owner is critical. There has to be an owner. An owner who is known, who is out and proud, and who has the authority and/or responsibility for delivering whatever the object of the strategy is. And there’s more. The owner has to have the resources to deliver – or to ensure the delivery of – the strategy.

MTPM enjoys hearing Sturgeon/Salmond/Swinney refer to Scotland being held back by not being in control of the levers of power. That’s because, being an unusual little boy, the only bit of the toy train set that MTPM got from his uncle on his fifth birthday that he actually liked, was the signal box.

Anyway, MTPM’s toy trains rarely left the station but he spent hours playing with the signal box and imagining himself throwing the whole of his weight behind the adult-sized levers that determined where everything went on the tracks. Geddit? Control of the levers is important. There’s nothing to stop MTPM writing a strategy for coy carp health for the province of Yokohira in Japan (don’t bother Googling it’s made up), and maybe one’s needed but there would be no point, no matter how good the strategy was, because MTPM has neither the authority nor control of the levers. Neither does he know diddlysquat about southern Japan nor tropical fish.

Which leads to the next point. The strategy has to have a purpose, a core purpose which goes beyond “we will do this/that in order to have more of whatever-it-is-we’re-keen-on”. The purpose of the strategy has to be to make the world a better place in some way, by doing whatever-it-is-we’re-keen-on. Everything that follows is the strategy. The Vision in the draft document currently circulating pretty much nails it and will provide us all with as good a vision as it’s likely to get, when it comes to implementing the strategy itself. Maybe just a little long and maybe lacking a killer phrase that everyone can remember and quote, but it’s still early days. What MTPM likes particularly is the reference to the Scottish approach to doing business. Not, note, the Scottish approach to doing social enterprise, but that’s another blog for another day. Not easily deflected.


NOTE: This independent opinion piece blog does not necessarily reflect the views or beliefs of Social Enterprise Scotland.