“Voicing” through social entrepreneurship.

coverA recent article by Malcolm Gladwell about the life of Albert Hirschman and his most famous work, “Exit, Voice, and Loyalty” brought back to my memory concepts from the international development field and my days at LSE that I have applied to my current work as a social entrepreneur. “Exit”, Gladwell explains, is the vote of your feet, the more passive form of showing a demonstration of disfavourment. “Voice” is staying, it's the courage that helps manifest change that brings the possibility of a reform from within. While, Gladwell states that voice is the option that can create progress, he also suggests “voice” is the child of ignorance, of not-knowing the result of our planned actions, of underestimating the challenges a specific task might signify in our lives. After analyzing a series of examples of where planning lead to unintended consequences and perverse outcomes, he playfully asks the question of whether “ignorance [is] an impediment to progress or a precondition for it?”

 Pondering upon the question, and reading through many of humanities greatest innovations, that same component of “innocence” seems to underlie the fountain of creativity. Gladwell quotes Hirschman saying,

 “Creativity always comes as a surprise to us; therefore we can never count on it and we dare not believe in it until it has happened. In other words, we would not consciously engage upon tasks whose success clearly requires that creativity be forthcoming. Hence, the only way in which we can bring our creative resources fully into play is by misjudging the nature of the task, by presenting it to ourselves as more routine, simple, undemanding of genuine creativity than it will turn out to be.”

 It is perhaps that same self-preservation instinct that makes us easily forget the more difficult and challenging moments in life, and enhance the beautiful and easier ones. Constantly, yet erroneously, we believe that a specific “task looks easier and more manageable than it will turn out to be.” This “entrepreneurial delusion” is what makes you get up, start again, and instead of exiting, voice your stance in a different way. Each time you propose a “better” solution, more often than not, it turns out differently than planned.

In 2010, after plunging into the labyrinth of understanding incentives, the role of the market in complex emergencies, and humanitarian disasters with hidden agendas, the fate of “voice” took over four LSE MsC students. We set out to discover our truth and try a possible solution through a social enterprise called “Bloom Microventures” that we considered could change something. The greatest lesson I took from the experience was that voice was not just about the reform, but about digging into that innocence and passion and reconnecting with the “why’s”, the right questions. If you base a project on questions, the answers can always change, your work becomes your experiment, and the world, your laboratory. The unplanned parts of a project seem like they were part of a path.

That first experience was part of a semi-permanent delusion. Since then, I have returned to Europe and have been working in awakening questions within people. Questions that would make entrepreneurial projects seem less risky through lean startup canvases and design thinking focuses through AnoderWold. And now trapped mid-mountain of the hike, instead of turning back I am “voicing” for educational reform through TeamLabs and a change in the financial industry by connecting local entrepreneurs to financing through responsible tourism in Authenticitys. There comes a point when what you are doing is almost a search for the unplanned and the failures. When you find these, you unveil innovation. Take that innocent step towards a more creative way to continue the unexpected path. One thing you will surely find is a more authentic you.






Howard Gardner visited Barcelona

gardner-foto-e1369214985130Howard Gardner visited Barcelona this past 10th of May, invited by Collegi Montserrat for the inauguration of their new space: Leader Lab. Prof. Gardner, is not only the Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, but has also been the leading academic in developing the multiple intelligence theory.  The subject of multiple intelligences grouped together over 2.000 professionals interested in education, and in evolving the way we learn on a rainy Friday afternoon in the Palau de Congressos of Catalunya.
Howard Gardner According to Gardner, rather than thinking about our brain as one unique computer, we should think of it as a hub, where several independent computers (each representing a different type of intelligence) are interconnected. Most people have jagged profiles with strengths and weaknesses that can be changed as we develop each one independently. “Some”, he said, “get better at learning one way over another”.
So, what are these multiple intelligences? And how can we develop them? Prof Gardner spoke of 8 intelligences he has researched in depth, and added two extra one he has recently recognized as existing but not researched. Others, who have followed his work have added a number of intelligences to the list, but these 10 are the ones that follow the research criteria he had specified in his original studies.
The multiple intelligences according to prof Gardner:
    Linguistic: of the poet, the writer, the playwright.
    Logical: Mathematical, scientific.
    Spatial: the aviator, the navigator, the sailor
    Bodily-Kinesthetic: Dancers, athletes, crafts and surgeons.
    Interpersonal: Religious leaders, salespeople, politicians.
    Intrapersonal: Understanding yourself
    Naturalist: Botanists, biologists, anthropologists
    Existential: the one that asks the big questions, of faith and the spirit.
    Pedagogical: Professors, teachers, sensei
“Every human has these intelligences, they are what makes us human”.
“No two people have the same profile of intelligences”.
So what implications do these intelligences have for us? In terms of education, Gardner, emphatised two main points: First, we should individualise teaching as much as possible, and adapt the methodology to the different profiles. Second, we should pluralise and present the same idea in several ways. Intelligences do not correspond to a singular sensory system, but rather to the combination of processes that take place. Prof Gardner stressed “No intelligence is good or bad, they are amoral”, that is, they are all necessary and make each of us unique.
In all the years that Prof Gardner has been researching intelligences, he decided to share with us his most important finding. He said:

“Intelligences are most useful when we mobilise them towards good ends…and good work: Ethics, engagement and excellence.” This research you can find in his most recent project.

Quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson he concluded that “Character [after all] is more important than intellect”.


photo elena 

My name is Elena. I experiment through entrepreneurship and social innovation to better the world we live in! Welcome to my lab, and be invited to my main project: Life.

March 2021
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