What would you do if you had £1m to build a more resilient economy?

What would you do if you had £1m pounds to build a more resilient economy?”

Friends Provident Foundation recently went to key opinion-formers in financial services regulation, civil society, funding and finance with this question and asked them what they thought would make our economic system more resilient. And from these interviews they created a video wall of 13 short lessons.

They asked the question: “What would you do if you had a million pounds to build a more resilient economy?”

You too can get involved in this conversation by going to this page.

Here’s what I will do with £1m
I will create the ‘social infrastructure’ that’s needed to catalyse the conditions for systems change over the next 10 years. This first £1m will be the seed funding that will be needed to catalyse further investment for this change initiative to be sustainable over the 10 years.
We will focus on inspiring a new narrative landscape, we will cultivate communities of practice who will demonstrate what was possible and we will influence the existing power bases through collective intervention for systemic action.
We’ll share the rich learnings from the work of The Finance Innovation Lab – our story, our strategy, our theory of change and our practice - and we'll have three focal areas.

Changing the Narrative:
We’ll come together to reflect, explore, imagine and amplify a new narrative for economic resilience:
• ‘What is the purpose of the economic system?’
• ‘What are the values and cultures that should underpin the system’?
• ‘’What are the existing solutions that are able to deal with the increasing complexity of the world?’

We’ll take inspiration and design for our change strategies by learning from other complex systems that are resilient and that work well. Like nature!

Nature is a resilience complex system and it is:
• Based on relationships & collaboration
• Diverse and varied
• Open and has clear information flows and feedback loops
• Constantly adapting to its external environment and the bigger context within which it operates

Cultivating Communities of Practice:
We will connect and build strong communities of practice that are based on an aligned intention, cultures of trust, collaboration and action learning. We’ll try stuff out like creating local solutions and building our own leadership and personal resilience. Fortunately there’s a lot going on already so connecting people up would be pretty easy – however more concerted effort is needed for strategic alignment for a ‘powerful movement’ for change.

Our frame will be to work on solutions that will build a resilient economic system that is:

1. Re-purposed : so that is in service to supporting long term human needs – relevant to today’s context of ecological limits, social justice and human well-being.
2. Decentralised in Power: Overarching economic framework – that allows for local and diverse solutions to develop
3. Based on New Cultures: enables new spaces to make sense of what is working and what is not – better information flows and experimentation.

We will not leave it to large organisations to solve the problems- as it is mostly likely that they have vested interests in maintaining status quo.
We will need to build the capacity of civil society and positive disruptors to be stronger to make space for the transformational change that is needed.

Leveraging scalable solutions:
As the communities of practice gain in strength, we’ll tactically seek to intervene in the system were there is opportunity for leverage. This might be focusing on policy change, harnessing the power of enlightened investors or a tactical campaign to leverage citizen awareness.
We’ll make sure that we have the backing of influential people –policy makers, media, business people, academics and civil society leaders- people who could bridge and influence old and new paradigms.
This £1m will have been the seed funding that was needed to build, amplify, demonstrate and influence the large scale deep change that is needed for a resilient economic system.

However, before we start, there are two important questions:
1) How can we all take responsibility as citizens to support new solutions, develop communities around us and grow our own personal resilience and leadership. We are the system in the end & change does start with us.

2) How can other visionary funders work together to invest in ‘system change infrastructure’ that is needed to tackle the root issues of our times – such as purpose, values and culture and changing who shapes the rules of the game.

Why is economic resilience important right now?
There has been no better time to address this question! We are in massive debt (personally and nationally), inequality is rising and another potential financial crisis is looming.  It’s clear that the design of the current system is not working – and to tinker around the edges is not enough – we’ve tried that.
We need to evolve the system so that it works for people and planet – so that it is life enhancing, not life destroying.

I am grateful for Friends Provident Foundation’s bold leadership role so far and I would encourage other enlightened foundations, trusts, philanthropists and collaborators to join them in this journey.