Exploring the origins, ethics and future of changemaking

Beyond good intentions

In Purpose on March 24, 2012 at 8:20 am

I thought I would begin by sharing where all of this interest in ethics comes from. I am not an ethicist, nor have I ever studies ethics formally. Yet in the process of my work in the fields of social entrepreneurship, changemaking and ‘doing good’, I have faced numerous ethical dilemmas.

In my work I have been frequently pitched ideas for new projects, businesses and organisations. Many of these have been creative, exciting and born out of immense passion. The social entrepreneurs have often done loads of thinking about the community they seek to serve, the market, the product, pricing and business model, and at times the long-term sustainability of the venture.

Yet often the ethical dimensions were left largely unexplored. This is not because the people who are behind these ideas are bad people. On the contrary, I have only met wonderful, brilliant and very well-intentioned people in my work. So many of the people who are behind social change work have direct personal experience of or connection to the problem they are seeking to solve. Their drive to create change is therefore highly personal, and very well intended.

Despite all of this, the initiatives have ended up in places that the founder or entrepreneur did not intend. Many of these outcomes have been positive, but also naturally there are other consequences which are not pleasing to the founder or the people they are seeking to serve.

Why is this so?

How is it that change actually works?

How do we explore the ethical dimensions of our work so that we can live and work in the world in a way that brings good to the lives of others?

These are some of the questions that I am seeking to explore through this blog. I would love to hear from you about your ideas, questions, dilemmas and stories. Through this blog I am seeking to create a conversation around the ethics of changemaking.

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