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Some thoughts on stereotypes and shaming

June 17, 2012

If you’re Pakistani, especially from Karachi or Sindh, watch this first, then read the rest of the post.

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Social entrepreneurship tackles mental health equity head on

February 9, 2012

Originally posted on the MaRS blog, cross-posted to Social Innovation Generation and SEE Change Magazine.

Bill Young emceeing the SEMH Awards Ceremony with characteristic verve

As a clinical psychologist trying to support sex trade-involved homeless youth, Dr. Sean Kidd found that encouraging them to participate in artistic initiatives brought far more success than the ‘best practices’ he was trained in.

While traditional evidence-based methods were still used, getting the kids to develop and act in skits together led to a far greater level of engagement than the organization he worked for had ever achieved in 25 years, as they developed the relationships and trust that helped them discuss their problems with others.

This insight came back to him five years later, in 2009, when he started reading about social entrepreneurship and the Ashoka framework of identifying effective approaches to addressing pressing social problems. With his interest suitably piqued, he began thinking about applying the social enterprise framework to the problem of mental health equity.

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“Strong” leadership during crises

November 16, 2011

Came across a passage while reading that reminded me of that famous ‘strong-man’ mentality that has prevailed so often in Pakistan.

It is a common belief that the decision-making process guiding crisis-response efforts must and will be centralized (‘t Hart, Rosenthal, and Kouzmin 1993). This so-called centralization thesis underpins the public want of a figurehead who is “in charge” during times of crisis. In reality, crisis-response efforts depend on many people in several networks. At the political-strategic level, efforts to radically centralize decision-making authority tend to cause more friction than they resolve because they disturb well-established authority patterns (Benini 1999).

In most democracies, governance takes place in shared power settings: Political leaders and institutions share power among each other, central government shares power with supra-national and subnational governments, and the state shares power with societal groups and private corporations. Unless there is an overwhelming need for drastic measures (during war, for instance), actors in the crisis-response network whose policy-making roles are abruptly diminished by the ad hoc centralization of authority will, to say the least, not be motivated to contribute their resources and comply with centrally issued policy directives.

From Public leadership in times of crisis: Mission impossible? [PDF] – Arjen Boin; Paul ‘t Hart. Public Administration Review; Sep/Oct 2003.

How to think about systems innovation

November 5, 2011

Or, what if everyone thought like Charles Leadbeater?

Tootin' the horn amidst a sea of suits at #mesh11

The thing about Charles Leadbeater is that he speaks so carefully and so seriously that it is difficult to grasp how radical the changes he is proposing are. There he stands, a balding middle-aged man with plain black glasses and what can only be described as an intelligent frown, and he speaks slowly and articulates the need for radical change so clearly that it’s almost frightening. A journalist full of righteous anger and a mass unstructured movement like the Occupy protests currently percolating around the world aren’t met with alarm because we expect those things. But we don’t expect a newscaster to quietly tell us that we’re being invaded by aliens, and we certainly don’t expect a soft-spoken management thinker to advocate for uprooting systems that we cling to for stability like it is the only reasonable way forward. It is, indeed, the only way forward for systems to innovate continuously as problems refuse to silently go away, but the implications don’t really strike us all that often. Most of us don’t really understand innovation – Leadbeater not only understands it, but he helps others understand too.

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Three jailed Pakistani cricketers, and hope.

November 4, 2011

Searching for silver linings on a cloudy, cloudy day: three jailed Pakistani cricketers, a system imprisoned by incompetence, and the possibility of respite.

I felt a little sick today as I scrolled through the tweets and learned that three of Pakistan’s best players in recent years would go to jail. There is a mixed sense of anger and injustice rippling through Pakistani fans, but more than anything else, there is a sinking feeling that we all hoped we would never have to experience again. Read more…

If ignorance is bliss, why aren’t more people happy?

September 4, 2011

Clearly, I need to start following Stephen Fry on Twitter.

Because this is brilliant.

“Almost the whole of my text at the moment, in my head as I fall asleep, is summed up by the word “contempt”. Contempt, in politics, for the hypocrisy, the double standards, the double dealing, the corruption and the moral suasion. It’s almost impossible for me to explain just how deeply I feel contempt. I want to go into detail – and I think you’ll be rather shocked, and I hope rather edified, by what I have to say.

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