Category Archives: Wisdom from the Directors

Where are we Dr. Summers?

Dr. Summers replies,

“The student work for SVPC is moving along at a supersonic speed. We have about 25 projects in the works. Student teams are fine-tuning their plans as the deadline for submitting the written plan approaches (March 17th). Ventures at the April 21st Showcase will range from paperless transactions to art education in Malawi to networking of commuters to homeless youth in Seattle. We’re excited about the variety of ideas and the quality of work being done. ”


Business time meets Kairos moments

Written by Dr. Ross Stewart,

Professor in the School for Business and Economics, and an intricate part of the SVPC planning

Social venture plans and project management generally, divide time into concrete pieces of time built around deadlines and certain deliverables.  The social venture plan competition is no different.  There is a template to guide our work with certain deliverables outlined especially the deliverable of the written plan itself that is sent to readers who give feedback and offer advice for improvements to the plan.  It is very much “business time!” Dates, deadlines, deliverables, and data – this can be routine and controlling.  This is very much clock time.  Time is recast into quantifiable time and your contributions to your group are measured by whether you have contributed to your group “just in time.”  Clock time rules!  The Greeks called this notion of time chronos — sequential and quantitative.  It is necessary to time-manage your social venture plan.  It is efficient!

The Greeks however had another notion of time called kairos. This is qualitative time – the idea that time is an in between time where something special happens.  Creativity, innovation, wisdom breaks in at the opportune time.  Your group in a sense gets “lost in time.”   Old ways of looking at an issue fall away and your social venture discovers a creative, new way of looking at an issue.  Your social venture suddenly – at the right moment— crystallizes around new solutions and ideas.  Business time is confronted with creativity and wisdom in an in-breaking of new thinking born out of frustration, anxiety, searching, questioning and experimentation.  This is something wonderful to experience and witness.  This is the beauty of being a social entrepreneur.  In a sense it’s God’s time.

The Bones of the Building

Written by  Mark Oppenlander

Director of Center for Applied Learning

This past Wednesday was the second class session for this year’s Social Venture Plan Competition.  Dr. Herb Kierulff spoke about the nature of the entrepreneur and why business plans are a good idea.  I think I’ve heard  this lecture often enough that I could probably give it myself now.  I wonder if he feels the same way about my lecture on persuasive presentations?

One of the things that Herb mentioned is that entrepreneurs are people who like to build things, specifically organizations, to solve societal needs, desires and problems.  Having observed students in entrepreneurship classes and business planning competitions for a number of years now, I can see that those “buildings” don’t spring up out of the ground overnight.  Each plan really has to start with a good framework – a skeleton or outline of some sort.  It’s just like a high rise building going up – those big steel girders you see are the bones of the building.

And on Wednesday night, as we moved into group work, and the students began to brainstorm around the basic ideas for their social ventures, you could see them trying to get the framework right.  These are the bones of the projects they will build.  If the basic premise – the skeleton – is wrong, the venture plan will never stand up straight.  The team won’t perform well in the competition.  And they won’t win.

Sitting in with four or five teams as they worked was fun, as always.  The creativity, energy and intelligence of these students are palpable.  I heard thumbnail sketches for a soap business in Malawi, a bakery that would serve gluten- and soy-free products, a promotional products company using youth artisans to craft high-end gifts . . . oh, and something about parking a cruise ship on the Seattle waterfront and converting it to new uses?!?  Some of these ideas may make it through the construction process and wind up in the competition; others may get scrapped to be replaced by better looking or more straightforward ideas.  It doesn’t matter.  The process itself is worthwhile.

And I can tell, even from these bones, that it’s going to be another exciting year filled with fascinating projects for SVPC.

What is Social Venture? And why should students get involved?


Director of the SVPC

Written by Dr Don Summers

SVPC Project Manager

Don’t sit on the sidelines while the world spins out of control. Each of us can make a difference, a big difference, but only if we finetune our good intentions into specific action. Seattle Pacific U’s Social Venture Plan Competition helps students take their ideas for positive change and build sustainable enterprises that focus on social problems. And winners walk away with prize money that can be used to get these social ventures off the ground.