Several years ago (yes I have been around that long) I posted on the importance of small acts of kindness, since when (although no thanks to me) this idea has gained ground. Being today on the receiving end of such an act I wanted to share it:
This is an extract from a letter I received from one of our Fellows, Alister Scott. In it, he writes by hand (which somehow makes it even better):
I have been meaning to write to express my appreciation for your talk on 21st century enlightenment for some time; further events at the RSA have crystallised my good intentions in action.
As a relatively new Fellow, I was deeply warmed when Babs [the RSA's long serving receptionist] welcomed me by name today – quite extraordinary for someone who must see so many people. What an asset to the RSA. I thought you would like to know.
My colleague and I have spent some hours here (at RSA) today between meetings and bumped into an extraordinary collection of staff, Fellows and others. It strikes us that this is exactly the sort of organisation and meeting place that you are seeking to create, so again we thought you would like to know; it’s sometimes difficult to see clearly from the top. We have met and talked to Matthew [not me!] (staff, brainy and engaging), Rachel (Prisons Transitions project, warm and intelligent), a TV presenter, a Fellow interested in transport and Irene Campbell (Fellowship Council). What a mixture – hard to get any work done!’
Earlier this week a group of German civil society leaders came to the RSA and one of their questions caused me to pause and reflect (usually I don’t know what I think until I hear myself say it). They asked how I saw all the different attributes of the RSA coming together. My answer was that the RSA becomes an organisation in which – wherever it operates (which means wherever we work or wherever Fellows gather together) good things are simply more likely to happen. This may sound a bit vague but Alister’s letter captures this sense of benign accident which occurs when great ideas, great people and a shared vision come together in the context of an organisation committed to helping change happen.
Thank you Alister
Public services, commercial corporations and spontaneous social movements: what's the power they all lack? How might public service reform not flounder through shoehorning dynamism into a universalist and planned approach? How might businesses become genuinely socially responsible rather than merely intoning fine sounding rhetoric?