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Lessons from Social Innovation to the Corporate World

We´re talking of projects that seek new, effective and sustainable solutions to complex societal problems, often overlooked. Dimensions such as education, employability, lifelong training, social exclusion, health and active ageing, environmental sustainability or circular economy.

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I have been interested and engaged in social entrepreneurship and innovation for over a decade. We´re talking of projects that seek new, effective and sustainable solutions to complex societal problems, often overlooked. Dimensions such as education, employability, lifelong training, social exclusion, health and active ageing, environmental sustainability or circular economy. Projects like these, promoted by community-based institutions, NGOs, and even startups, are guided by the social impact they seek to generate – hence the term “impact economy”. These social ecosystem increasingly brings together more people (whether professional or voluntary bonds) and generates more value (social and even financial). One thing is for sure: the corporate world will have a lot to learn from the world of social innovation. From its leaders, its management processes, its creativity and the way to achieve results. Some dimensions:

•    Resource management: social innovation projects, especially in an early-stage, are by nature creative and optimize the (few) resources needed to start working; the so-called “underused resources” of society are critical here: available spaces (eg an industrial unit or abandoned warehouse) or free time (eg senior professionals, with free time and willingness to help) are good examples.

• Motivational and transformational leadership: leaders of social innovation projects rarely have a “premium compensation” as a value proposition for their teams; therefore, they focus on the mission, on the vision and on the promise of transforming a certain dimension of society… ultimately, transforming lives! And that is their greatest driver in aligning and mobilizing its people.

• Ideation and innovation management: in social innovation projects there are no “roadmaps”; much of what is done is on a trial-and-error basis: as such, the use of ideation and prototyping tools (eg design thinking) makes these projects agile, fast and adaptable to changes in the communities and social problems they intend to transform.

• Focus on impact:  within the scope of their business and their ESG (environmental, social and governance) guidelines, corporations would have a lot to learn regarding  strategies torwards the right outputs and outcomes.

In short, my humble suggestion to all business leaders is simple: whether as investors, sponsors or mentors, engage some of your time in social innovation. The results are rewarding and a fantastic source of learning and personal development.

Carlos Sezões

Managing Partner of Darefy – Leadership & Change Builders

Luís Gonçalves

Marketing & Tech Manager

Luís has a professional certification in IT (Computer Systems Management and Programming). He´s now finishing his degree in Human Resources Management and Organizational Behavior. He has experience in marketing and communication projects, both in Portugal and in the UK. Entrepreneur and event manager, Luís is organizer and co-founder of the Famalicão Extreme Gaming, one of the biggest e-sports, video games and technology events in Portugal.

Nuno Gonçalves

Associate Consultant

Nuno has a degree in Psychology and a Business Management Executive Master; he’s an organizational consultant and senior trainer, with over 20 years of experience in the areas of Negotiation, Team Management, Leadership; Coaching, Stress Management; Emotional Intelligence, Feedback and Customer Management. He has a HeartMath Coach – Stress & Resilience Management certification and additional training in Theater, Psychodrama and NLP (Neuro – Linguistic Programming).
Nuno has been invited professor in modules like Innovation, Creativity and Leadership and Team Management.

Susana Almeida

Associate Consultant

Susana has a degree in Psychology (specialization in Social Psychology and Organizations) and Master in Human Resources Management (EADA). She has extensive experience of more than 15 years in executive search and middle-management recruitment, in leading multinational consulting firms, in Portugal and Spain. Susana presents also an insightful experience in several talent management, leadership assessment and culture transformation consulting projects. Versatile leader, she´s also an entrepreneur, language teacher and project manager in the education and life-long learning areas.

Cristiana Paiva

Client Partner

Cristiana has more than 15 years working in organizational, leadership and HR challenges, in different companies and geographies. She graduated in Sociology from the University of Porto and complemented her training with an MBA in Management, specializing in the areas of Marketing and Human Resources. She was a consultant for Dynargie Portugal and Responsible for the Recruitment, Selection and Talent Capture of the Ibersol Group. At JASON Associates Portugal she started as Business Development, then took on the challenge of internationalization in 2013 as Business Manager for the Angola operation and, later, she took on the role of HEAD Africa. She is the “mother” of the TOP Leaders Luanda brand, an event directed to TOP Management. In 2017, she completed the brand’s spin off for Angola, having led the process of making international operations autonomous. She is a Managing Partner at JASON Angola, a Partner at JASON Brasil and a Business Development Manager at JASON Tribe.

Carlos Sezões

Managing Partner

Carlos has more than 20 years helping companies to optimize their organizations, leadership and talent.  He began his career at Banco BPI (banking) in 1999, focused on small and mid-sized companies. In 2001, he went to work to the e-recruitment portal ExpressoEmprego.pt (Impresa Group), were he developed employer branding strategies. Later, in 2004, he changed to management consulting sector, where he worked for SIGH International and BI4All – essentially, in corporate governance and performance management projects. Carlos founded LearnView in 2007, a company focused on consultancy (change management) and competencies development (strategy, leadership, behavioural). Carlos was Partner at Stanton Chase Portugal for more than 10 years (2010 to 2021) – engaged in  Executive Search, Talent Management and Executive Coaching.

He holds a degree in Business Management and has upgraded his studies with a Marketing post-graduation course, an Executive MBA, and finished his Masters degree in Human Resources Management in 2018. He’s also concluded a Digital Transformation program (MIT). Since 2012, he has an international certification in Executive Coaching. Carlos was honored in 2013 as HR Consultant of the Year in Portugal (RH Magazine) and has also participated as a speaker in more than 50 conferences and seminars. Moreover, he has been serving as visiting professor in some universities and business schools (Universidade do Minho, UAL, ISG). Parallel to his professional life, he’s the founder and coordinator of Portugal Agora (www.portugalagora.com) – citizenship and think-tank platform.