This week found me at a meeting of disruptive social innovators — The Disruptors for short. According to their Facebook page:

a group for people who are, and are inspired by, creating the precedents of the future; riders of the next wave of positive social change.

The blurb for their event, which came to me as a PDF flyer by email from a fellow student at Schumacher College, said:

we will testing out a systematic tool for social innovation called ‘Rule-Breaking’: systematically mapping the assumptions and conventions of a social, ethical or environmental system and then exploring the potential positive social impact of disrupting them. The group will pick out the case-study for this real-time innovation session.


I arrived early at a warehouse near Kings Cross which will become the new home of The Hub in London but which, for the moment, is a hollow building with very echoy acoustics. This meant it was not a great place for my tele-conf with Schumacher classmates that was scheduled for half an hour before the meeting started. I enjoyed walking around with my hands-free (the old sort that looks like a pair of headphones and a clothes peg, not the new sort that make you look like you’ve been assimilated by Carphone Warehouse). I think I prefer having telephone conversations in both ears.

I feared the meeting might be about civil disobedience but decided to go because Cristina had been so diligent in telling me about The Hub. Turned out that the rule-breaking was about innovation in the concept of new social enterprises: how to do things differently. Which was exemplified by Muhammad Yunus when he talked about setting up the Grameed bank; finding out how banks worked and then choosing to do the opposite.

Met a great bunch of people and learned a lot simply about social enterprise: I didn’t really know what it was or who was doing it. Now I’m not  much wiser but I do know that some phenomenon exists that bears that name. And Rule-Breaking is an interesting approach to apply in other areas, I suspect. Like maybe the design and management of IT projects.