Thought Leadership

Group Coaching in the RADIUS Fellowship

By | Fellows, Thought Leadership | No Comments

By Tamara Connell & Urszula Lipsztajn

Photo by on Unsplash

We could all use a coach – someone to work alongside us, as we pursue professional growth. For a social innovator this can be even more important; the weight of trying to improve social, environmental and/or economic conditions can be heavy and exhausting.

Since the RADIUS Fellowship launched, the most promising local social innovators and changemakers have worked in four-month cohorts to build relationships with their peers, develop personally and professionally, and tap into the broader social innovation and social entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Coaching has been a part of the RADIUS Fellowship since the beginning. In 2017, we made available to the Fellows the most robust coaching offer yet. We began with Fellows individually identifying and describing personal development areas: what they wanted to work on; how this topic or challenge was currently affecting their lives; and what they would like to experience as different. With the support of their coach, Fellows co-created a coaching program individually tailored to their current and potential future ways of being in relation to their area of development. Once every three weeks, groups met to discuss progress and challenges related their specific coaching ‘assignment’ as was provided by the coach. Each Fellow not only got to receive coaching and feedback from their peers, but also become a critically important contributor to helping provide feedback, insights, and coaching questions to their peers.

Coaching is an optional – albeit very popular – component of the Fellowship. Of the 80% of Fellows who participated in the 2017 coaching offer, most found it to be very valuable. Several Fellows indicated that the coaching was among the most impactful components of the Fellowship program.

The group coaching is unique, and like most things at RADIUS, a bit unorthodox. We were nervous launching this new model, but it was a resounding success. Most participants reported that the group format helped them to build strong bonds with their group-mates, something that wouldn’t have happened with one-on-one coaching.

[The coaching offer] was greatly impactful for myself and was a wonderful, structured space to get to know some of our fellow peers. ” – 2017 Fellow

It was very valuable in building deeper relationships to other members in the cohort, and in deepening my understanding of potential challenges in reaching certain goals. I was offered many different exercises and ideas to further work on my goal, and am looking forward to working on this. ” – 2017 Fellow

The 2018 Fellowship, which is currently accepting applications, will include a robust group coaching offer much the same as what was prototyped in 2017, iterating slightly to capture learnings and hopefully be even more successful.

We’re thankful to all the 2017 RADIUS Fellows who joined us with open hearts and minds during the coaching program and shared their input during and afterwards.

We’re looking forward to offering coaching again in the 2018 RADIUS Fellowship.

Thought Leadership: Building Positive Health Outcomes Through Social Entrepreneurship

By | RADIUS Ventures, Thought Leadership | No Comments

After studying the drivers of poor health outcomes over the past few months, it seems like humanity invests half its resources in making people sick and the other half in trying to make them well again.  The challenges are huge, multi-faceted and complex. The areas of possible improvement are multiple, diverse, and often complicated.

It’s for this reason that RADIUS has decided to apply our work to the prevention and early detection of chronic disease.  For the next two years, RADIUS is accelerating ventures that help people live healthy lives. Applications are open now.

We’ve taken a deep dive to refine both the Trampoline Business Validation Program and the Slingshot Accelerator (which now includes a $25K investment in every venture) and are working equally hard on defining a health focus that maximizes impact.  In this post, we share a bit of the behind the scenes process at RADIUS.

The RADIUS Way and Healthy Lives

For the past four months our team has been diving deep into the complexity of the health system and identifying opportunities for social entrepreneurs to contribute meaningfully to chronic condition prevention.

Getting to the unique elements of a person’s health context is like peeling the layers of onion, but medical practitioners operate within very real constraints: a short window in an appointment to listen, diagnose, and act; and a narrow scope of available solutions.  The best solution is to avoid the problem by addressing the health risk conditions well in advance.

To unpack the complexity of healthy living and understand both the challenges and opportunities for high value interventions, we’re putting ourselves through much of the same process we take RADIUS cohorts through.

We set out to understand where we can be helpful in promoting better health outcomes through our venture incubator work. We’re driven by three questions:

  1. Who can we serve?
  2. What are their needs?
  3. What can we offer them to meet these needs?

If we are to achieve positive impact, our focus needs to be clear correct and targeted.  

Finding Focus in Social Innovation

To peel the onion methodically and ultimately find the necessary focus, we work through a four-part process to define a problem statement – the challenge we’ll seek to address by developing and accelerating a cohorts of health-focused RADIUS Ventures.

  1. Define the possible universe

Going into this we knew our focus area was limited to influencing behavior that addresses risk factors for chronic disease. RADIUS interviewed every healthcare practitioner and health expert that we could get our hands on. Humility and curiosity are key to unlocking critical learning.

  1. Identify leverage points where new, enterprise-based solutions can contribute

This meant understanding the specific places where new enterprise-based tools could provide and reward pro-health options. Factors like income, education levels, and other social determinants of health have a massive influence, but might require policy or advocacy solutions. An app rewarding a teenager for choosing an apple over chips is useless, for example, if that local store only sells salty snacks, which they stock because their customers’ educational and income challenges prevent them from demanding nutritional options. We needed to understand the leverage points in the health field that could be effectively addressed by RADIUS launching and accelerating social ventures. This alignment is key for any social venture pursuing both revenue and impact.

  1. Assess relevant strengths (and weaknesses)

Next we assessed where our unique attributes could be most useful. We engaged the RADIUS team to map core competencies, networks and previous lessons learned. This stage is about the internal work required to understand our capacity to operate effectively on a new project.

  1. Define qualifying problem areas with sizeable markets

Finally – and this is the work we’re currently doing at RADIUS – we need to pull it all together to define a focus. That focus needs to play to our strengths, target a meaningful leverage point that can be affected by market based solutions and exist squarely within our possible universe. AND it needs to have a sizeable market. For us, this means that there must be a cluster of emerging and early stage ventures seeking to address this problem, and that the market those ventures target must be big enough to sustain them.

RADIUS works to build the capacity of Radical Doers, and to help them to scale their solutions.  Without dozens of entrepreneurs grappling with the problem from different perspectives, we don’t have the cohort participants to form a diverse, high quality program.  

At the end of this process we frame a problem statement. The problem statement will guide all aspects of the RADIUS Venture’s program, as it should all aspects of any participating social venture.

RADIUS Ventures Recruitment is Open Now 

RADIUS is so close to defining the problem statement that will focus the work we do accelerating ventures that help people live healthy lives in the 2017-18 year. We are hosting a roundtable with health experts today (May 23) and are carefully considering venture applications to 2017 cohorts.

If you’re interested in learning more or contributing to our discovery process, please email the Ventures team at

Early stage ventures that are working to help people live healthy lives can apply to a 2017 RADIUS Ventures cohort now.

Fellows showcasing the characteristics of a 21st Century leader

Thought Leadership: Building your leadership capacity by building your inner capacities

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At RADIUS, we have the hypothesis that we can play a meaningful role in shifting towards a more just, sustainable and resilient economy. The RADIUS Fellowship in Radical Doing is one of our programmatic interventions towards this desired outcome. The Fellowship brings together a cohort of radical doers, untamed social entrepreneurs and innovators who are early on their changemaking journey, demonstrating remarkable accomplishment and a relentless dedication to creating positive, sustainable impact in all they do. We meet weekly over the course of 4 ½ months, and work towards three concurrent goals:

  •      Personal leadership development
  •      Project development
  •      Network development

Over the next few months, we’ll be sharing some of our thinking behind each of those three developmental areas. This week, I begin with reflecting on the first goal listed above, personal leadership development.

“The success of an intervention depends on the interior state of the intervener.” –Bill O’Brien

Personal leadership development for changemakers

This quote was introduced to me in 2011 by three students of mine in the Master’s in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability (MSLS) Programme, and it’s forever impacted the way in which I think about and structure my leadership development. It illuminated the distinction between the inner space of a changemaker – an intervener – and the more visible, tangible actions taken by that changemaker. If you’ve been introduced to the iceberg model or Integral Theory, you’ll be familiar with this focus on the interior as distinct (yet connected) to the exterior, visible actions one takes.

So what DOES it take for emerging changemakers to make successful, positive interventions in society? How does one build and maintain personal resiliency, strength, and wisdom in the face of all the challenges barraging us today?

Much of the past decade of my career has been devoted to helping foster increased confidence and competence in sustainability and social innovation leaders. Early in this journey, I admittedly built programming from a sensed place more than from any kind of framework. Then in 2011, these three aforementioned students (Christopher Baan, Dana Pearlman, and Phil Long) embarked on a thesis that asked, “If our work requires us to motivate and assist others in making transformational change towards a more sustainable society, what are the inner capacities that are needed to allow for our success?” Their five month long thesis culminated in the production of a model and practice guide called The Lotus, and it has since deeply informed my thinking and design of leadership sessions, including that of the RADIUS Fellowship. Read More