Meet our Social Leaders


Full list of Fellows
Owen Jarvis

Owen Jarvis

Type of Fellowship: Specialist
Year of Fellowship: 2012

NESTA Fellowship

Update Spring 2013

How has this period of your Fellowship been?

I think the last quarter has really taken my fellowship forward, breakthroughs on research, identified and met a mentor, deepened knowledge on social innovation, close to finalizing a secondment.

1)    My research project with Ruth Marvel has taken shape. I had a break-through in identifying an area that uses both of our experiences and appears to fill a gap in present thinking on social innovation and growth. This follows a 6-week intensive scoping exercise meeting leaders in the field to discuss future/horizon scanning and realizing engaging the sector would be difficult.

2)    My learning and understanding on innovation has deepened considerably, following attendance at the Innovation and Strategy MBA elective at SAID business school. In turn, Marc Ventresca who runs the course is keen to have greater involvement of social entrepreneurs and innovators in the programme and is keen to be involved at an advisory level in our research project.

3)    I’ve also been working more broadly – with Future Business and their work around ‘social intrapreneurship’ with corporates – including Accenture, Marks and Spencers. Also working with Social Sculpture Research Unit in Oxford – looking at how social interactions can be designed to create social change/insight – eg flash-mobs, staged events/campaigns on food-waste

What has been your greatest challenge? 

Deciding to change direction on research. Having invested significant time and effort in understanding futures/horizon scanning, deciding to put it to one side was difficult but the emerging proposal on social innovation had greater connection with the social sector.

How has your leadership had an impact on those you work with?

My work with Ruth Marvel on Futures has led to a realization of the importance for third sector leaders in understanding emerging and long-term trends in decision making today. A provocation paper is being developed for later in the year.

I’ve been advising the Social Sculpture Unit and their environmental awareness programmes on University of the Trees, Earth Forum to help establish a social enterprise and plan responses to interest in rolling-out worldwide.

Discussions with Dan at International Centre for Social Franchising have led to realization of the potential for third sector organisations to use franchising as a way of improving the way in which they partner with commercial companies contracting to deliver public services– where they have an innovation that can be rolled-out.

In what way you are a better leader now than at the start of the Fellowship?

I’m far more confident in my hunches and insights, particularly around potential gaps in approach and thinking.

People have also commented upon my ability to generate opportunities whether for research or business opportunities and build good connections with people working in business and public sectors.

What have learnt so far during the Fellowship programme?

In leading social innovation, it’s often best if the leader is not the one with the ideas or even trying to have the ideas but frees and supports others in bringing opportunities forward and bringing them to life.

Keeping in mind the pillars for good improvisation - “Listen, accept, commit” seem to me to be pretty good lessons for life and professional work.

The social sector is under enormous pressure at the moment, and I’m convinced developing skills in futures/horizon scanning and how to respond and prepare for emerging trends are key to good decision-making.

What opportunites/support/skills/inspiration/lessons have you received from other Fellows?

In working with Ruth Marvel I’ve been impressed by her ability to quickly digest and assess information and then present arguments or positions with clarity and confidence. Also with her ability to move on to new positions and put aside old ones which no longer fit aswell.

How would you describe the CSLP experience so far? 

CSLP provides a “once in a professional lifetime opportunity” to have genuine freedom to explore, reflect, learn and then launch the next stage of your career. Most importantly the chance to learn from a good bunch of talented peers.

I’ve loved every minute of the Fellowship - I’ve found the Clore brand is really attracting interest and opening doors – people are really starting to “get” the concept of a mid-career fellowship, and the benefits it provides not only to us as individuals but to the sector more widely.

Taking time out for the fellowship has been invaluable for me, and I suspect with us all working for many years longer, with many of us managing busy home and work lives, doing more for less, space for personal and professional development is an investment our society needs to continually make.




Twitter: @owenjarvis
Personal website/ blog: changebrokers.wordpress.com

Current principal role: Service Design and Development Manager
Current principal organisation: Citizens Advice
Other leadership role 1: Entrepreneur
Other organisation 1: Money Saving Movement

Research: When Bees meet Trees: How large social sector organisations can help to scale social innovation
Research topics: Change management; Charity; Social investment;
Secondment host: RSA

Contact us
0207 812 3770
5th Floor, Kings Place, 90 York Way
London, N19AG

Charity: 1136727
Reg: 7222275
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