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Interview with Professor Giovanni Fosti, President of Fondazione Cariplo

This month we have the pleasure of interviewing seznamka nezavazny sex Professor Giovanni Fosti, President of Fondazione Cariplo and Professor of Welfare and Social Innovation at SDA Bocconi. Happy reading! 

Q:  We carefully read his latest article in Sole24Ore “Roads and trains alone are not enough, social infrastructure is needed to keep Italy on its feet,” and we found ourselves very much in the final close, in which he emphasizes the need to generate trust as a glue between the parties, without necessarily binding with agreements that stiffen the synergies between the different actors in the community. Trust, therefore, appears as a “natural glue” on which to graft new, forward-looking experiments involving young people. It is also true, however, that in the field of Social Innovation, “guarantees” in the form of a track record of past experience, a normative identity that is “manageable” bureaucratically, and a due feedback of accountability are often demanded (from the actors who practice it). The question then is: How do we combine a spontaneous rediscovery of trust as the basis of relational capital with an increasingly managerial trend affecting those involved in social impact generation? 

A: I think the goal should be to bring out how these two aspects are compatible and equally necessary. To generate trust, the crucial factor is shared priorities. To get to shared priorities, relationships of trust are necessary in which each is willing to look at it from the other’s perspective, but likewise trust is a necessary condition for this dialogue to take place. Sharing priorities and trust thus feed off each other. 

If we can converge on what priorities to act on, the technical and managerial aspect then follows.  Although trust remains a primary factor, it cannot lead to effective and sustainable development if it is not supported by sound management. Therefore, managerial skills are also needed to make management development work in practice as well. 

Q: The “Looking4” project, promoted for the 30th anniversary of Fondazione Cariplo, is listening to territories to realign needs, methods and solutions. Many of the areas on which it will focus attention are complex areas, i.e., characterized by interdependent dynamics with respect to external factors of different nature, as moreover has emerged – unfortunately in a negative sense – in recent months (e.g., post-pandemic instability, environmental management of the post-conflict energy crisis in Ukraine, etc.). How does a foundation like Cariplo manage complexity in the impact areas in which it operates? And how does it manage to adapt its programs to sometimes unstable scenarios without “abandoning” fronts that are already open?

A: In a world that changes so quickly and profoundly, the key to understanding and reading reality is the ability to stay connected. This is why Fondazione Cariplo is increasingly trying to move in networks with other actors and to stimulate the creation of networks on the territory. With these networks it is necessary to maintain a lively and attentive dialogue about what is happening within communities. This is a tension of learning that should never be taken for granted and is especially necessary in times of rapid change. Indeed, Looking4, the course we are running for the Foundation’s 30, aims to provide a space for meeting and reflection to engage in dialogue with each other through a community method. 

Q: The last question concerns the issue of the clustering of the communities in which we live, which you mentioned in the previously mentioned article. We move in a context where only if one belongs to the right “cluster” – paraphrasing your words – can one enjoy a series of virtuous cultural, social and economic offerings capable of enhancing the potential of the individual. On the contrary, one will struggle more and more to emerge, to be involved in regenerative circuits, to seize opportunities. Do you find that in this phenomenon there has been a definite design aimed at “simplifying” the management of territories and communities by structuring it by levels? And how could one put back into circulation a dynamic of ” promiscuity” – positively understood – of one’s affiliations, functional for the regeneration of communities worn down by years of social inequalities and rigidities? 

A: The existence of these clusters is evidence. I think the crucial point then is the attitude with which services and offerings are conceived. Two alternatives emerge: an attitude that aims to simply set up offerings or an attitude, which in a convinced and tenacious way, aims to actively bring these offerings to those who have the most difficulty accessing them and who are often also those who need them most. This means trying to intercept people to engage them and offer opportunities for growth. The offer must therefore deliberately go out to target the exit from the clusters, “customizing” the proposals for new audiences and not just setting up solutions for those who already naturally access them.

Intercepting people within the bubbles, is an all the more important thing when done for the little ones. In fact, countering poverty of opportunity must begin as early as possible. Countering inequality is not only a matter of welfare, but also a matter of culture. For example, Fondazione Cariplo has launched the call “Discovering Culture,” which does not aim to add pieces of cultural offerings but rather connects opportunities that already exist with people who otherwise would not take advantage of them, stimulating local cultural experiences for children who, for example, have never visited a museum in their city.

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