With or Without Love

We’re thinking a lot about love at Intentionality at the moment. Over the past few months we’ve been researching the role of ‘love’ within social enterprise and are in the final stages of completing our report Social Enterprise: What’s love got to do with it? This has sparked many interesting conversations about love and business.

For example, the other day, I was chatting with one of the team members at Chapel St (a social enterprise that runs schools and health centres, among other things) and we talked about love as a founding principle and a strong component of the ethos of their schools. It became clear that sometimes it is hard to explain what love means, both in a general sense and in the context of a school, and that some people may be very uncomfortable with the idea of it being central to how a school is run. Others might feel skeptical or quickly dismiss it as ‘too fluffy’, ‘inappropriate’, ‘unnecessary’ or ‘idealistic’.

However, my mind was suddenly boggled by the description of a simple ‘thought experiment’ that Chapel St works through with their staff to help explain their schools’ ethos of love. Rather than asking staff to imagine what a school would look like with love in it, they ask what a school would look like without love present. That second way of thinking about the absence of love is perhaps more palatable, easier to conjure up in our minds, but – at least if my train of thought is relatively normal – quite quickly leads to words and images that are far more uncomfortable and their consequences more concerning.

A school (like any business or public service) without love would, or could presumably, be a place that is impersonal, cold, scary, selfish, greedy, unkind, untrusting, isolating, lonely, disempowering, individualistic or a mix of these things. Not the kind of place I’d have wanted to study in or that I’d want my boys to experience. Which is why I’m fascinated by enterprises that put the opposites of those things: warmth, altruism, sharing, kindness, trust, inclusion, empowerment, community – each perhaps an aspect of love – at the heart of what they do.

These things are, when we stop and think about them, the most important things and the things we really want in life.

If you’re interested in reading more about our research on the role of love within social enterprise, please download our free report Social Enterprise: What’s love got to do with it? from this website on Monday 30th June.

We’d love to hear your comments on this topic – please email me (steve@intentionality.co.uk) or send a tweet to @intentionality_ using #LoveSocEnt