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The OpenRSA initiative was started in 2007 to support new developments planned for the 250-year-old RSA - the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce.

OpenRSA was particularly active autumn 07- spring 08 around the launch of RSA Networks.

Original statement here

The ideas below were developed in May 2012, since when the idea of relaunching OpenRSA has been put on hold. David Wilcox

An open exploration

Update: the latest discussion on exploring RSA networks development is on the RSAFellowship site here (archive link).

The following proposal may change during our planning and set-up phase - but currently OpenRSA is conceived as an open collaborative exploration over six months, starting in June 2012, around the theme:

How can RSA Fellows contribute to the organisation’s mission - and benefit from the experience in ways that suit their needs as well?

The exploration will be conducted partly online, and also through meetings and workshops.

The background

More here on the background to OpenRSA, and why the time seems right.
In particular, the recent fellowship survey (archive link) and download (archive link) led to recommendations including:

  • clearer and more tailored paths to engagement for Fellows and improved online offering
    • increased visibility of the RSA’s activities and realisation of its mission,
    • more specific offerings for younger Fellows,
    • facilitation for those who are willing to contribute to projects including funding and to leave legacies to the RSA.

The survey is being analysed in more detail, and there will be staff-led proposals for development, including a new technology strategy. The OpenRSA exploration is conceived as a Fellow-led initiative to complement and support that work. We aim to work closely with staff throughout.

Why engage with OpenRSA?

The OpenRSA exploration will only succeed if it engages the interest of a range of Fellows, and so we are starting with a series of talking points to begin some conversations.
The first of these turns the theme of the exploration around to focus on the personal:

  • How can being a Fellow of the RSA help me achieve more for myself and others?
  • What changes would offer greater benefits to me and then to others?

We are starting with these personal questions because one of the benefits of RSA is the diversity of people involved, and their many interests. Everyone has their own reason for being an FRSA. At the same time, there is no clear statement of the purpose of Fellowship beyond that in the Charter of 2010 which says:

We form a unique combination of committed people and diverse ways of working in our efforts to findinnovative practical solutions to pressing social problems and Wesupport each other by working collaboratively and creating anenlightened space in which to tackle the challenges of the 21st century

It is unclear how far Fellows may mix personal interest with achieve an RSA vision. While the bye-laws say FRSA may not be used for business purposes, some Fellows use the Linkedin and RSAFellowship sites to promote their business interests, and one of the strongest groups is for social entrepreneurs.

For that reason we have to evolve some collaborative purpose from the many interests and motivations of Fellows. One touchstone for success could be how far we can re-engage Fellows who have left or dis-engaged, and how we can help recuit more Fellows. We need to feel confident to answer the questions from our friends:

  • Why should I apply to join the RSA?
  • What does “FRSA” offer beyond the free events and activities run by the RSA - and beyond what I can get from my Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin connections?
  • How might “FRSA” help me develop a project or other activities?

The exploration process

The exploration is modelled partly on earlier OpenRSA work 2007-09, and partly on explorations undertaken by social reporters here.
First thoughts on the process also reflected in the workshops page

Set up phase

  • Liaise with RSA staff and any relevant Fellowship groups, and recruit a core group.
  • Start our blog at, and report our activities there and on
  • and the Linkedin Group.
  • Develop some questions and answers about Fellowship to supplement guidance already on offer Dr Bob Rollins has made a start here
  • Report on any network development in prospect, on the blog

Developing workshop issues and ideas

  • Crowdsource some talking points -
  • starters here - and initial ideas to
  • address the issues (the reason for the Talking Points - rather than
  • jumping straight to ideas - is that the issues are highly complex, and
  • we need to get some shared understanding of them.)
  • Plan workshops based on the talking points and ideas

At the workshop

  • Provide an update on the RSA context, from the above work
  • Use the talking points and initial ideas to generate and prioritise more ideas.
  • Sort the ideas into those that can be taken forward by Fellows on their own; those that can be achieve
  • collaboratively with staff; and those that can only by done by staff and
  • Board (thanks to the Social Spaces Skills Game - archive link - for this categorisation)
  • Form groups around some Fellow-led ideas

After the workshop

This will depend on the pre-workshop and workshop discussions, but we would expect to move forward with some practical action on the Fellow-led ideas.

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exploration.txt · Last modified: 2017/05/28 17:10 by admin