zaid hassan

zaid hassan bw

[oxford, england, uk]

zeye – eed

huge:

How planning is killing us and why social prototyping will save us

Zaid is the co-founder of Reos Partners, where he currently serves as Managing Partner of the Oxford office. Reos Partners is a social innovation consultancy that addresses complex, high-stakes challenges around the world. We help teams of stakeholders work together on their toughest challenges.

Zaid has over a decade of experience in developing strategic responses to complex social challenges, including aboriginal issues, climate change, child malnutrition, employment, energy, financial systems, global food systems, and security issues.

labs for social change site

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from reos site:

Zaid is a facilitator and writer who is passionate about bridging divides and cultural re-generation. His work is focused on supporting individuals, communities and institutions who recognize that new approaches are needed in order to shift contemporary intractable situations.

Zaid helped found Reos Partners in 2007 where he serves as Managing Partner of the Oxford office. Reos Partners is an international organisation dedicated to supporting and building capacity for innovative collective action in complex social systems, which also has offices in Cambridge (MA), Johannesburg, Melbourne, Sao Paulo and San Francisco.

Over the last few years he has worked on catalysing systemic action on a wide range of issues, from financial systems, to agriculture and climate change.

Before helping to found Reos Partners, Zaid spent four years at Generon Consulting, where he worked on long-term projects that brought together business, civil society, government and communities to innovate within complex and difficult social situations. His work involved process design, facilitation, project management and documentation and his projects included sustainable food supply chains in North America and Europe, child malnutrition in India and aboriginal relations in Canada. He has spent extensive time in India working on the Bhavishya Alliance, an initiative aimed at reducing child malnutrition in India.

Zaid has a background in technology and marketing communications. He has worked in the corporate and non-profit sectors over the last ten years, including organisations as diverse as the PR agency Hill & Knowlton and the global learning network, Pioneers of Change. He left university where he was studying Physics to join the .com boom, where he set up his own company, Anthropic, which focused on both the delivery of new media and the social implications of technology.

Zaid is currently a Strategic Advisor to the Climate Action Network (CAN), a global network of some 500 environmental NGOs, to the newly formed International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) in Dhaka, Bangladesh and to the Global Initiative for Climate Based Adaptation (GICBA) a network focused on supporting the most vulnerable communities adapt to climate change.

He is a Guest Lecturer at the KaosPilots, an innovative business school in Denmark.

Over 2009-10 Zaid was an Associate Fellow of The Institute of Science, Innovation and Society, Said Business School at the University of Oxford

Zaid is currently writing a book entitled “Defending Culture” which articulates a theory of culture and considers active responses to the destruction of cultures.

He has been a contributing author to the innovative website, worldchanging.com since it’s launch and has written for Worldchanging on social change, democracy, politics, education, the global food system and many other topics. His pieces have included a report on ten years of democracy in South Africa, Democracy Age 10, a progress report on the Lula government, in The Continuing Story of Lula as well as numerous shorter pieces.

Zaid also writes for Shikshantar: The People’s Institute for Rethinking Development and Education based in Udaipur, India.

A native Londoner, Zaid grew up in India, the Middle East and England.

He currently lives in Oxford.

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the social labs revolution

book links to amazon

a new/old way of being…

Zaid’s book on social labs is timely and insightful. He’s urging us to to take notice of, and take a listen to, what we already have/are, in order to realize that the change we all crave, is not only urgent, but it’s doable, because it’s us.

Zaid lays out three characteristics of social labs – social, experimental, systemic – and then addresses/depicts all three with lived examples/stories and words like these:

..perhaps more than anything else, together they represent integrity and honesty—they are not what we want solutions to look like, but what we have found they actually look like when effective.

A new term I learned (and instantly grokked, as it seemed to capture the essence of the book and of social labs/life/experimentation) – koan. Zaid writes:

From a pragmatic point of view, however, the value of a koan is not in answering the question, for there is no answer. It’s that the Zen student, in struggling with the question, arrives at a new way of being, valuing, if you like, the very nature of the struggle.

Zaid shares personal prototyping/praxis. He shares his – swimming in it. So vivid/candid/raw/vulnerable – you can’t help but desire/imagine the potential of yourself, and 7 billion other people, set free from bau (new acronym to me – business as usual), to instead emerge us, as community/alive.

And so the dance.

In the face of the technocratic systems of high modernism, the paradigm of the social lab lives and dies by an idea that perhaps seem quaint in this day and age—the idea that people working together can address our most profound challenges.

High recommend. Deep gratitude to Zaid.

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notes and highlights from book:

social labs notes and highlights

link above to all.. below adding on a few:

This book has four core goals:

1. To make the case that the planning-based approach of addressing complex social challenges leads to certain widespread social collapse.

Direct action has either become a strident call for someone else to take action or the frantic alleviation of symptoms that leave underlying causes largely intact.

zoom dance ness

The principle behind inductive approaches is that in the particular lies the universal,

swimming in -life as experiment ness

Thomas Homer-Dixon explains:

The public not only needs to understand the importance of experimentation within the public service; it needs to engage in experimentation itself. To the extent that the public explores the solution landscape through its own innovations and safe-fail experiments, it will see constant experimentation as a legitimate and even essential part of living in our new world. To the extent that the public understands the importance of—and itself engages in—experimentation, it will be safer for all of you in the public service to encourage experimentation in your organizations.

social labs are platforms for addressing complex social challenges that have three core characteristics:

  1. they are social – [everyone ness - in the city ness]
  2. they are experimental – [the it is me - i'm never just me - zoom dance - prototyping ness]
  3. they are systemic – [100% of humanity - rhizome root ness]

2 labs Zaid has been a part of that encompass all 3: sustainable food lab (global food system) and bhavishya lab (child malnutrition in india)

Roger Martin  ness

Taking an experimental approach requires not only discipline but also a degree of stability and commitment rare in a project-obsessed world. Addressing the root causes of challenges eschews easy and popular political wins in favor of longer time frames and greater uncertainty.

on the 3 characteristics of social labs (social, experimental, systemic):

..perhaps more than anything else, together they represent integrity and honesty—they are not what we want solutions to look like, but what we have found they actually look like when effective.

From a pragmatic point of view, however, the value of a koan is not in answering the question, for there is no answer. It’s that the Zen student, in struggling with the question, arrives at a new way of being, valuing, if you like, the very nature of the struggle.

In the face of the technocratic systems of high modernism, the paradigm of the social lab lives and dies by an idea that perhaps seem quaint in this day and age—the idea that people working together can address our most profound challenges.

so the app – is the means to ongoing sustainability/flexibility – by focusing on 1) daily self-talk (finding self) and 2) talk connecting tribes/social labs (finding people) – and essentially ridding ourselves of all other bunk/bau habitus ness, so we can do/be the thing(s) we can’t not do/be..

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ALIA Webinar – Social Labs

Published on Jan 28, 2014

The first in an ALIA webinar series called Tools for Transformation, Zaid Hassan of Reos Partners distills essential principles of next-generation Labs. He shares with us insights from his most recent publication ‘Social Lab Revolution’.

SOCIAL LABS bring together a diverse a group of stakeholders not to create yet more five-year plans but to develop a portfolio of prototype solutions, test those solutions in the real world, use the data to further refine them, and test them again. Their orientation is systemic—they are designed to go beyond dealing with symptoms and parts to get at the root cause of why things are not working.

Zaid builds on a decade of experience—as well as drawing from cutting-edge research in complexity science, networking theory, and sociology—to explain the core principles and daily functioning of social labs, using examples of pioneering labs from around the world. He describes a fast-growing global movement around a new generation of ambitious social labs that are tackling big challenges such as dramatically reducing global emissions, preventing the collapse of fragile states, and improving community resilience. The Social Labs Revolution offers a new generation of problem solvers an effective, practical, and exciting new vision and guide.

planning is good for putting a man on the moon..

23:42 – next gen labs – needs to be as the day...

baked into lab – social (all kinds of people), experimental, systemic

challenge of keeping a team together.. meaningful work

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may 2014:

1. news: societies are complex

made up of unpredictabilities and emergence

so we generate more info/data - so there’s always something you haven’t read.. we never have enough info.. so we have to act w/o having enough info

we make decisions based on seeing hearing around us

2. bad news: dominant response to these challenges – that doesn’t work: strategic planning (in the context of complexity – success of strategic planning is very low) – so we’re investing a lot of time/energy in something that’s not working. planning is zombie/dead. efforts to solve problems are going up.

3. good news: we know there’s a better way… we know how to deal with these issues. ie: medical research for cancer.. look for experts and fund on talent not on 5 yr plan..

what makes social labs:

1. have to be social – people doing work have to be affected by problem… team of real diversity

2. work they do has to be experimental in nature – taking trial and error based approach

3. the work has to be systemic in nature – root of the problem.. the thing about systemic is it’s really an attitude rather than a prescription

19 min – why it’s hard to do a lab – because we are used to a 5 yr plan w/a budget (which by the way have been shown to have a 90% fail rate), and getting people to buy into – put resources toward – experimentation is hard.

q&a

36 min – labs (experimental ness) are good if your problems and solutions are contested.. ie: sending man to moon is not contested.. problem and solution are agreed upon – just need to work it out; education – problem and solution not agreed upon

55 min – how to build relationships…? humanize each other.. listen

1 hr – start generating value – for the people in the lab – w/in 3 months.. then start documenting.. ie: what social capital have we generated in 3 months..

1:20 – how to know if people are ready? 1) do you have the pre-conditions (people, resources), 2) are you grounded in reality… ie: i don’t know how you could create global equity in 2 years..

[dang.]

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city ness


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