More than an organization, Christian has managed to create a true movement of citizens who make positive social change happen by helping social entrepreneurs around the world resolve their challenges. Within two years, Christian’s MakeSense community has grown to reach over 10,000 members in Europe, North America, but also China and Russia; and to support nearly 300 social entrepreneurs in 45 cities. The pace of growth keeps accelerating as the movements’ champions are recruiting new members daily through online and offline viral mechanisms, as more and more social entrepreneurs are submitting their challenges and as the community develops new formats and processes for problems to be resolved: by 2015, Christian expects MakeSense to have 300,000 members in order to allow any social entrepreneur to find a relevant solution to their challenges within three to five days.
Every dimension of MakeSense is carefully designed by Christian and a team of designers who make sure to optimize recruitment and engagement processes, problem-solving mechanisms, and their matching with challenges. At the core of the movement is a group of highly engaged individuals who are carefully recruited for their commitment and passion for social change. Nicknamed Gangsters (or GangMembers in the US for cultural reasons), they play a key role in building relationships with social entrepreneurs, expanding and anchoring the community, and leading problem-resolution processes. The broader community consists of individuals or groups who participate with different levels of commitments and time. Nicknamed SenseMakers, they constitute the collaborative brainpower that allows finding solutions to social entrepreneurs’ challenges, but also more simply help recruit new members and skills or spread the word.
When a social entrepreneur contacts MakeSense with a challenge, either because MakeSense has reached out to them or through the web, they are connected to a GangMember who helps them reframe their problem in a clear, actionable way, and who defines the best collaborative format to use in order to come up with a solution, either by tapping into the base of existing processes or by creating a new one. Historically, standard interventions were gatherings of 10 to 20 SenseMakers who would work together through a carefully-designed, facilitated process and come up with a solution. Such events are called Hold Ups. Today, there are 8 different documented methodologies, and 16 more are in the works. Once the process is defined, GangMembers then spread the word online and offline to attract the right SenseMakers into the problem resolution process, and play a key facilitation role. Each experience feeds back into the design of the collaborative process and helps improve the body of knowledge that is at the core of MakeSense. Every three months, GangMembers get together for a few days to collaborate on improving existing tools and develop new ones, in a format called SenseCamps. Constantly improved, this knowledge is intentionally open sourced within the community but also beyond, and is today used by many citizen organizations (COs) who are “powered by MakeSense” in their problem-resolution practices.
What was initially a movement of young people is now growing to include a broad variety of members. Members typically hear about MakeSense through word-of-mouth, online social networks but also through problem-resolution events organized around the world by some GangMembers, who travel to expand the movement and conduct SenseTours. More recently, Christian and his teammates have designed engagement processes for new audiences: SenseSchool develops and offers workshops to professors and universities to engage students in structured, highly effective problem resolution processes for social entrepreneurs, and have notably worked with Said Business School in Oxford. CommonSense offers companies problem-resolution activities engaging their collaborators in intrapreneurship processes. Both SenseSchool and CommonSense operate as business entities whose income serves to fund the actions and expansion of MakeSense; their revenue has been multiplied fourfold within one year and should allow MakeSense to be sustainable by 2015.