Summary: there is no simple proposition for joining or staying with the RSA. To understand the potential we may need to think about our roles as consumers, donors, voters, challengers ... but most of all as creative collaborators.
I guess we all come across the headline question when it is time to renew ... or when someone asks "should I join the RSA"?
I've concluded that it is well worth staying, and encouraging others to join - but there isn't a simple answer to the question. You might be interested in some explorations I've made recently on the topic, and I would certainly be interested in yours.
So the RSA is not like a professional association, Chartered Institute, a networking system like ecademy, or a place to meet for business like the Institute of Directors.
It is, however, an incredibly interesting and diverse mix of Fellows and projects, with a high reputation for thought leadership.
BUT - at this point many Fellows and staff sigh a little, and say: "we should be doing more to realise the potential".
How? I think by helping make more and better connections between Fellows, staff and Fellows, and making it more one-RSA. That involve network building ... not just personal networking.
For that reason I'm leading a discussion in the Digital Engagement group on Collaborating towards a more fully networked RSA, and I'm glad to say it has produced some lively discussion about better online systems, the issues around personal networking, how to support creative collaborative projects, the purpose of Fellowship ... and a bit about networking the RSA. (I'll come back to the five bottles in the headline a bit later).
In the discussion I'm promoting the idea of an exploration that will "provide a way to try some small-scale experiments, research experience elsewhere, and develop an optimistic view of opportunities for the future. In practice the explorers may:
I think a more fully networked RSA could help with the challenge posed by the Fellowship Charter:
"How can we collaborate to "find innovative practical solutions to pressing social problems" ... how can we "support each other by working collaboratively and creating an enlightened space in which to tackle the challenges of the 21st century".
`If you are interested in network development with these aims, I hope you might join in the exploration, either online or at some workshops we are planning.
In any case - and here come the bottles - you might be interested in some analysis of the different aspects of being a Fellow.
Tessy Britton, a former chair of the Fellowship Council, and one of the most creative people I know around social innovation and much else, has developed an analysis of different paradigms for citizen participation and social change, leading to proposals for a Creative/Collaborative approach. I have found it extremely useful in the exploration I'm doing into different models for community enabling over on socialreporters.net.
I think Tessy's latest development of the analysis gives us some useful ways of thinking about Fellowship ... perhaps as citizens of the RSA.
"Is there a new creative and collaborative way that regular citizens are participating in society, and if so, how do we recognise, understand and promote these innovative and transformative ways of investing in society?
"We have a number of well-established routes to participating in society. We participate through being consumers, supporting the economy, circulating money while trying to provide valuable livelihoods for ourselves and others. We participate through generosity, giving or sharing what we can spare and volunteering to help others, both at home and abroad."
Tessy then goes on to examine four paradigms underlying these various ways of participating ... and I think they make sense if we think RSA Fellow for citizen.
... but none of these, in my view, offers us effective participation on their own or together. That's why I like Tessy's Collaborative/Creative.We need to find better ways of doing good things together.
I'll stop at this point to see if the analysis makes sense to others. If so, I hope we can explore how to make the most of Fellowship.
I should add that I took a break of some 18 months from the RSA a year or so back because I became so frustrated at the lack of clarity about Fellowship. I rejoined because I sensed that there was a much more positive spirit abroad, and more encouragement for Fellows to take a lead. Recent conversations with staff, and Fellows in the digital engagement group, confirm that.
Which of the five bottles do you want to drink from? Can we top up the Creative/Collaborative?
Add a Comment