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Monday, 12 November 2007

Matthew fills out the vision

RSA chief executive Matthew Taylor has now filled out his vision of how RSA Networks might develop, and what sort of projects might result from discussions on November 22:

I am looking forward to the event on the 22nd, but not because I have a plan that I want to see unfold. It is because I suspect that it is only in being part of 200 plus Fellows and staff working hard at the tough issues for a whole day that we will really get a sense of the potential of RSA Networks.

There are three questions to which I hope I will be closer to having my own answer by the evening of the 22nd.

First, what really are the potential synergies between the RSA's research programmes and the Fellowship? Will developing a Fellowship engagement aspect to major projects help us develop powerful and distinctive projects? Will it simply be a feel-good exercise, or could it be a pointless distraction?

Second, what might be the characteristics of RSA Networks that make them stand out from other initiatives?

I don't think that we can be entirely new and different, but we need a consistent story about the value added the RSA brings. I suspect this will involve elements such as our multi-disciplinarity, our pragmatism (we are not tied like some NGOs to a single account of how best to impact on the world), our non-affiliation to a fixed political ideology and our commitment to a model of change that combines, on the one hand, research and action and, on the other, ideas about public policy, with a commitment to fostering individual and collective action.

Third - and hardest of all - is there really the commitment and the capacity at the RSA (HQ and Fellows) to develop effective experiments and models of civic innovation? This, I have said in previous blog posts, is about combining willing with insight and team working. Maybe it's the three C's; commitment, cleverness and collaboration.

He then gives examples of possible projects including Speakers Corners in cities, a debate on the proposed Severn Barrage, and "a high profile attitude-shifting debate about how young people can get on better together, driving violence out of their relationships?"

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