Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Social Entrepreneurship Revisited

At the risk of rambling and knowing this is no bully pulpit - we save that for face to face sessions. Be forewarned and move on, if so inclined.

Paul C. Light's item in SSIR - see above for link - continues from a previous piece, Reshaping Social Entrepreneurship, Aug 06. The August item essentially calls for a "big tent" with greater inclusivity. Given the trepidation among funders/investors and the professionals engaged by civil society and non-governmental organizations toward "social entrepreneurs", perhaps a big tent was comforting.

That was then, and Paul currently writes,
I have drilled through hundreds of articles and books on social and business entrepreneurship, and I have surveyed 131 highly, moderately, and not-too-entrepreneurial organizations. And I discovered that many of the assumptions that I rejected in 2006 turned out to be true after all. Whereas I once believed that virtually everyone could become a social entrepreneur, I am now convinced that there are special sets of attitudes, skills, and practices that make social entrepreneurs and their work distinctive from more traditional public service. As a result, I have become much more concerned about how we can identify potential social entrepreneurs, give them the training and support they need, and increase the odds that their work will succeed.

I shudder considering a dark future where some game-changing b-school unveils a new degree programme ... the MSIb (Master of Social Innovation in Business), the lowercase "b" ... 'cause it's social innovation via business - baby.

I have nothing against training, skill enhancement, or any other device to sharpen mental acuity; however in the case of social entrepreneurs, success hinges on resilience, near term clarity, story-telling, and the acceptance of uninformed - from the social entrepreneurs viewpoint - scrutiny.

These behaviors allow the social entrepreneur to attract resources that refine and advance the undertaking instead to diffusing the raison d'etre of the enterprise.

The eco-system that supports the current dis-equilibrium (as perceived by the social entrepreneur) will persist. Why? That eco-system is supporting, invariably a "good solution" based "on the resources available". The social entrepreneur's "great solution" will be trumped by the "good solution" unless a new eco-system, one fashioned by the social entrepreneur, can be introduced.

And ... ya can't train that!

Interested in learning more about social enterprise? Take a browse through the Vancouver Social Enterprise Book Store (Vancouver | United Kingdom | United States) and see what other social entrepreneurs recommend reading.

Tags for information about: for:vsef, Social Entrepreneur, Nonprofit, Social Innovation


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