Several members of the Volans team spent 2-3 energetic days at the Skoll World Forum in Oxford this week – Alejandro (Litovsky), Charmian (Love), Sam (Lakha) and I, with Geoff (Lye) dropping in for the session I moderated on sustainable transport and electric vehicles. The focus of my ‘Evergreen’ session was on scaling, exploring the macro level of change. My panelists were Nancy Kete of EMBARQ, Josh Steinmann of Better Place, Peter Head of Arup and Ion Yadigaroglu of Capricorn Investment Group. A great panel.
I also did a session on the first day with the social entrepreneurs, introducing them to some of the thinking on The Phoenix Economy. A number of entrepreneurs have already asked us to brief their boards and trustees on our conclusions and recommendations.
Had planned to blog while there, but the pace was too frenetic – and now that I’m home, I’m packing for San Francisco. The overall mood of the Forum was typically upbeat, exemplified by a great set by KT Tunstall, who I hadn’t heard before and who did a version of ‘Black Horse & The Cherry Tree‘, but with a sense of darkening clouds as a backdrop. My suggestion that the economic downturn could cause social problems many orders of magnitude greater than the capacity of current social enterprises to counter went unremarked, but it’s bound to be true.
One key question is how fast we can organise ourselves to influence politicians and public policy-makers, to ensure a greater proportion of any bail-out packages go to enterprises that are creating value for the twenty-first century rather than providing life-support for those that did so in the last century. Another surrounds the pathways to scale that will take at least some of the solutions on display here to the point where they become endemic.
My own sense is that we will return to Oxford in 2010 with plenty of new entrepreneurial activity to report and celebrate, but in a profoundly chastened mood. More on the 2009 Forum from their website.