You may have noticed that SIX has a ‘new look’ post pandemic, and lots of new strands of work alongside. Below is a bit more detail on our approach and what it looks like in practice:
Working in the ‘in between’ spaces
The challenges we face today are more complex than ever and can no longer be viewed as separate issues – we can’t address climate change without addressing global inequality, developing a more equitable economic model, unemployment, mass migration, social justice, and so on. We are also operating in a challenging world – we are simultaneously more connected (thanks largely to technology), yet more divided (accelerated by the way nations responded to the pandemic). And when we are more divided, it’s easier to keep the status quo.
We need groundbreaking change, and this requires us to develop partnerships with a wide range of partners, beyond our own sectors and geographies.
Working across such silos, and approaching challenges with a pluralist mindset, has always been central to SIX’s work. The SIX team and Board have always been multidisciplinary (artists, academics, companies, and practitioners) and global (from Australia, across east and west Asia, to the Americas). For us this is normal and we thrive from the creative challenge this brings.
But from the outside, we are difficult for others to understand. Our approach is unfamiliar to many. There is no box to put us in. We attend events of NGOs and civil society groups, or cities, or funders, academics and business leaders. Rarely, do any of these groups crossover or link up (or in some cases, even reference each other) in any serious way. Asia is better at cross sector than Europe. For example, the AVPN conference this year brought together the whole spectrum of finance organisations – from investors, to companies, to philanthropists, to NGOs.
If we are to achieve the complex systemic changes we need, everyone needs to do this better. We need to find ways for philanthropists and funders of all kinds, policy makers, industry, creative and tech sectors and communities to see each other as part of the same system, to find ways to learn from those with different perspectives and backgrounds more effectively to work with, and support each other better. What will it take for us all to stop operating as islands?
We need more organisations who can do cross pollinating and cultural translation, sharing the insights and messages between these silos. We need more investment in organisations who can play the role of cultural translator.
So what does this approach look like in practice?
Some of the key questions we are working on at the moment include:
- What does an economy look like where Business is really for Good? How are/should corporations be addressing the S in ESG? What is the role of philanthropy in influencing this agenda? Some of our initial work insights in this work are available here.
- What should be the role of philanthropy? Building on 5+ years of convening forward thinking foundations, we are interested in the more fundamental question of how the relationship between funders and philanthropists think about their relationship to wealth? What other roles can philanthropy play, especially in relation to other sectors? Where are the new frontiers in philanthropy (Europe and N America are represented, but what about in other places?)
- How do we rethink governance/governing our cities in the post pandemic world? What does it mean to be doing local/place based experimentation in challenging places, particularly those outside of Europe with more precarious governments? Our new book telling the Story of Seoul touches on many of these issues.
Reframing how we approach ‘global’
As a global organisation, with a global team, we are constantly asking what is the best way to learn across geographies in an increasingly complex world? How can we reframe our mindset to not see ‘other’ places as those who need to learn from the Global North? How can we get more of a whole picture, not just a European or North American perspective? Whilst we always keep our eyes out for what is happening all over the world, we are a small organisation with limited resources, so there are two geographies where we are focussing our energy at the moment:
- Re-visioning Europe in the world – What does it mean to be connected at a time of political turmoil? How can we weave a web of people across the continent, on the ground, to do things together (despite divisive politics and Brexit).
- The ‘Asian decade’ – Asia is leading in the way it uses tech, data, the way citizens participate, and the connection between philanthropy and Business for Good, especially in the geographies of South and South East Asia. But much of this is unknown outside the region. How can the rest of the world learn from, and with, the region?
SIX in 2022 and beyond
2022 is an important year for us – exploring what intersectionality and transition mean for us in a world that’s waking up to the realities of crises. This year we are inviting our incredible group of global peers to come together and find connections in a mission driven way to accelerate impact. Let us be sounding boards to each other and find the interconnections in our collective work.