Connecting edges and building bridges

Working with our new Chair, Markus Lux in 2024 and beyond

Firstly, it is my great pleasure to announce that SIX has a new chair – Markus Lux, who is Senior Vice President Global Issues at Robert Bosch Stiftung. Like SIX, Markus is committed to finding joint solutions to global challenges.

Over the coming years, I will be working together with Markus and our excellent Board to deliver our vision to engage in long term work, accelerate learning across silos, learn globally,  and develop a bigger vision of what kind of society we want to live in. 

Today, peaceful coexistence depends on finding answers to current global questions. We can only master these challenges together and by incorporating different viewpoints and for all people to have an equal chance to participate in society. This is what SIX has to offer the world.

Markus Lux

There are two focus area which guide our work together:

Innovation on the edges

At SIX, we are embracing the ‘edges’- this is where we will find innovation and inspiration. What is on the edge clearly depends on where you are coming from, and how you see the world. The principle of looking outwards, finding new perspectives, looking at what is on the margins has always been important for us. We’ve always had a curiosity about things, places and people that are less well known. But in the geopolitical environment we now operate in, it is more important to look at the world in new ways and broaden our world view. The best examples don’t necessarily come from ‘the West’ – there are dozens of new cities emerging, or less well known cities, which are experimenting with new approaches, and leapfrogging what is happening in North America and Europe which we can all learn from. That’s why we’ve been looking at collaborative funding in Bulgaria, rather than Barcelona, and why we are hosting our next event in Bloemfontein, not Cape Town. 

Edges don’t only need to be geographical. For us, it also means engaging with new thinking and ideas that come from new groups – children, young and older people, employees, marginalised and others who have been excluded from/ outside of mainstream social innovation discussions. We will continue to put practice and learning from the ground at the centre of all of our work. 

The Art of Bridging

It is one thing finding people from different perspectives, it is another thing to get them to learn from each other or work together – the concept of bridging social capital. This is a key part of SIX’s work, and there is an art to bridging effectively. 

Markus and the whole Board agree on the increasing need for bridging, and the role SIX can play. Being able to work at the intersection/nexus between people, projects, organisations, and communities is vital if we are going to tackle the most complex global challenges we face. To bridge people who have different perspectives and experiences, we need to find ways to provide deeper connections, shared understanding and lasting commitments. 

This work starts creating human connections which start from our own value systems, beliefs and behaviours. Bridgers need to be able to navigate different systems and know who to connect, when and how. Over the last decade, we’ve been experimenting with different ways to do this bridging work and honing an approach which can be adapted for online and offline. We use art and music, ecosystem mapping, ethnography, site visits and we help people step out of their day to day work and mindsets on retreats and at events. 

As Kriss Deiglmeier, another SIX Board member, wrote in a piece in 2018 (in her then capacity as CEO of Tides Foundation US) “If we want to live in a vibrant, diverse democracy, we have no choice but to become better bridgers.”

The more polarised the world becomes, the more we need to look beyond our borders, and find ways to understand and connect with people who are different to us. All sectors have a role to play in this, so it’s time to look outwards, be less comfortable, challenge ourselves and find connections in truly unlikely places. Markus and I invite you to join us on this journey.