The Practivist: How to start a successful social enterprise?

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In this post, Valeriya Vitvitskaya talks about the Practivist approach to start a social enterprise. Leading up to the Degree Show she shares her perspective of the Practivist as Innovation Manager.

“Moon Prism Power!” was the first command that Usagi Tsukino used to transform into Sailor Moon, the champion of justice. Silver Crystal was enabling her to become a soldier destined to save Earth from the forces of evil. I’m your mascot that empowers you. I’m a practivist, a proactive member of society who knows how to change the world for a better place.

In my research I explore the ways to start a successful social enterprise that aims to tackle a wide range of social and environmental issues. The United Kingdom government believes that successful social enterprises ‘exemplify enterprise, innovation, competitiveness and social inclusion’ (DTI, 2002). In fact, social entrepreneurship exploits social challenges as opportunities within a governed environment may have failed to solve these problems. All the while, businesses continue to aim at maximizing profits, having no interest in solving them, and on which charities, heavily depending on donations, have unsustainable or unpredictable social impact.

How does one initiate a social driven organisation, which will have a positive impact on society? How does one distinguish the gap where the state and the private market have found themselves ‘ill-equipped to adequately address’ social challenges? I have chosen to investigate these and other important questions in my thesis in order to provide a set of tools and frameworks that will empower civil society.

I searched for an opportunity to implement principles of lean startup methodologies in social entrepreneurship. I discovered that the learning cycle ‘build’ – ‘measure’ – ‘learn’ could be helpful for social start-ups, not only to allocate their resources as efficiently as possible, but also to foster the understanding of beneficiary’s insights and therefore maximise positive change.

In addition, in order to solve social ‘wicked’ problems, a social venture could use design thinking, another methodology, which combines a human-centred approach with iterative processes, which encourages working in interdisciplinary teams.

Furthermore, I found an opportunity to learn from both design thinking and lean startup and created a “lean design thinking” approach, which combines the strengths of both methods (Mueller and Thoring, 2012). Although, lean design thinking in social entrepreneurship represents a combination not only lean startup and design thinking but also a social model. In fact, the social model is the key element that differentiates a social enterprise from a commercial business. Hence, I crossed boundaries of the traditional theoretical landscape and proposed a brand new approach “Lean design thinking in social entrepreneurship”.

I’m the Silver Crystal, the Practivist who provides new framework that will help you to make a positive contribution to the society and start a successful social enterprise. “People Power Peace!”

To learn more about the Practvist and Valeriya’s research, stay tuned for the upcoming MAIM 2015 Degree Show, taking place at Central Saint Martins in the week starting on the 24th of June.