SOCAP Europe F-Lab workshop: A new picture of the Social Capital Market emerges

How to map a movement with playing cards

We launched and built on a new set of Anti-Hero cards this year at SOCAP in Malmo. These cards that capture some of the characters of the social capital market.

Complexity Navigators have now found their place in the deck alongside the Genius Engineers, Mummy Mentors and Credible Funders – cards that were created by Kevin Doyle Jones (SOCAP), Simon Tucker from The Young Foundation and I, to host an interactive workshop designed at the conference, designed to make visible the invisible.


How did it begin?

I kicked the session off by sharing a personal story which sparked the idea for this project – my reaction to the Occupy Wall Street movement. I explained my cognitive dissonance (anxiety from holding two opposing thoughts in your mind at the same time), that I couldn’t make myself publically promote the movement, even though it stood for everything I was hoping to change in the financial system.

On reflection, I realised that I’m just not an activist. I don’t like confrontation, I don’t know enough about economics to create a decent argument and frankly I’m just not very good at arguing why the existing system needs to change. I just know that it does. But I realised that I am good at something else- building new structures with the culture that can allow change can happen; places like our social innovation project The Finance Innovation Lab and social enterprise incubator UnLtd* Future.

What value do you bring?

I questioned why I felt bad about this? Why wasn’t I happy just being myself? And I realised one reason was that the system celebrates some roles more than others. Economists are valued more highly that Psychologists for example. Impact investors more highly than Graphic Designers.

There is an invisible but very strong hierarchy of ideas and disciplines in the existing system. I am always reminded of my trusty friend David Hodgson, who is the ultimate New Paradigm Connector. I’ve lost count of the amount of amazing people he’s put me in touch with, that have led to incredible collaborations and new open doors, yet recognising his value in terms of money or visibility is really hard.

Kevin Doyle Jones asked me to host the session because he was irritated by the Forbes list of top 30 social entrepreneurs. The idea that there were a few ‘heroes’ and the rest don’t matter didn’t sit well.

I’m convinced that if we really want this movement to flourish we all need to excel – to be brilliant, to reach our potential and to throw ourselves into what we are really good at. To all become superheroes ourselves.

To do this, we need to see the system and be proud of our place; Student or Panellist, Coordinator or Economist we have a responsibility to know what we are really good at and to shine.

Our objectives

So The Finance Innovation Lab anti-hero game was designed to making visible the invisible in two ways;

  • Show people the value they bring to the movement
  • Show the value others bring
  • To create a ‘picture’ of the system that can be used as a tool to understand what’s working and what needs work

What happened at the workshop?

Jason Mollring from UnLtd* Future helped me facilitate the session which started by sharing our pre-designed set of archetype Anti-Hero cards. They were read and discussed at tables to get an idea of the kind of roles we have seen in our worlds (thanks to Martin Martinoff for the amazing design work on these).

Participants got into twos for an appreciative inquiry exercise where they answered the question ‘What value do others say I bring to work?’, ‘What Anti-hero name would I give myself?’ And ‘What are the characteristics of my card?’. They were asked to draw their own Anti-hero and got back into fours to share their cards with each other. Then we reflected on what we’d learnt as a group.


What patterns did we spot?  

The new Anti-hero cards created by participants at the workshop revealed an obvious pattern.

  • The Complexity Navigators

There was a cluster of people who work at the edge of emergence. They are curious, spot patterns, ask questions and listen. They sift and order information, identify gaps and get people to think about what they haven’t considered to help find a way forward. This group were given names like The Devisor, The Propeller and The Experience Eye-opener.

  • Enterprise Builders

There was a second group who shape these ideas into an enterprise. They connect different points of view into a big vision and translate these into an executable model. They are business minded, understand numbers, strategy, are action focused and set goals. They bring in credible ambassadors and start to build a narrative around an idea that can be communicated effectively.

They were given names like The Connected Illustrator, Builders with Balloons (!) and the Creative Business Leader.

This cluster was supported by a Connected Coordinator who sees what needs to be done and goes ahead and does it, connecting people with networks and a Modem shaped Cheburashka (a Russian Children’s character, the mind boggles!) who is hugely enthusiastic about the project and spreads the word amongst networks, injecting energy into the system.

  • Reflectors

Finally there was a third group who reflect. They engage with the project leader to spot what is working and what isn’t. They link things together, spot inconsistencies and new patterns that could inform strategy. They offer a compass to navigate the next move. Groups here included the Reflective Big Thinker and the Engaged Reflector.

What next?

There are many exciting avenues we could take this next.

We could use the cards to;

  • Map the system and see what’s missing
  • Understand the connection between different players
  • Build dream teams of people to tackle challenges
  • Offer the cards open-source and ask people to upload their new cards to the platform to build collective intelligence
  • To map the wider financial system. We could ask out Finance Innovation Lab community of 3,500 people to design their cards. How would our groups who look at complementary currencies, differ from our Big 4 Auditors? How would the disruptive finance policy group differ from our sharing economy group? What would it all look like if we stuck it together
  • To build a map of SOCAP attendees. Ask everyone to design their own cards and cluster them live at the next conference.

I think this is an important project that could really create a feeling of agency – that we all have a responsibility to be our best. To quote Jean-Phillippe de Schrevel of Bamboo Finance who spoke on the first day of SOCAP Europe ‘We all want to tackle world’s biggest problems. We just need to work out which piece of the puzzle we can solve’.