A small interlude in the story of the Collective’s first year. When it works well, the Collective appears to make the whole of the social sector more than the sum of its parts. What does this mean?

In technical terms we can think of the work of the social sector as a ‘positive sum game’. Let us imagine there are five social sector organisations making a difference to the lives of 100 people (20 per organisation). When there is connection and trust between the organisations, the same five organisations make a difference to 125 people (25 per organisation). 

This is an example of a ‘positive sum’. More people have been helped, and no organisation has suffered as a result. 

This idea can be seen in practice. By working together the organisations in the food network source more food, waste less food and reach more hungry residents.

It is common in the business world. In an earlier post I introduced the idea of ‘gentle commerce’, how trust between competitors benefits all competitors. 

Ratio has a game that it plays with children to show how trust is built. In round one the children play for themselves. There are winners and losers. Before the second round the children learn about trust. They play again, this time more aware of the other players. There are still winners and losers, but all players end up with more points than in the previous round. The children love it. And it is fun for adults too! If there are still doubts in the sector about the concept of positive sum we could play the game and experience the idea in action.

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