Developing-Leaders-issue-22-2016

Developing Leaders Issue 22: 2016 | 73 Exec Ed Update Getting Beyond Better How Social Entrepreneurship Works By Roger L. Martin and Sally R. Osberg Published by Harvard Business Review Press, 2015, ISBN 978-1-63369-068-4 Launching their new book in London the authors championed social entrepreneurship as a means to “reset the status quo for the disadvantaged.” Of course one could say Bill Gates is doing that through his foundation, followed recently by Mark Zuckerberg, charities do that, so do some government agencies, not to mention the many socially responsible businesses whose disruptive innovations have benefited all levels of society in many way. What Sally Osberg, CEO of the Skoll Foundation and Roger Martin, former dean of Rotman School of Business, do here is to focus on the new breed of entrepreneurs who have gone out to target manifestly unjust systems and create revolutionary new fairer and better systems that support the poor and disadvantaged. The key to these enterprises is that being founded on firm entrepreneurial principles they remain economically sustainable without depending on government or corporate largesse, although re-imagining ways governments and businesses can be engaged in the funding process can be key. The book discusses both the recent and historic – as in the realm of knowledge transfer where Guttenberg’s press, Carnegie’s libraries, and Jimmy Wales’ Wikipedia all feature. But most relevant are the recent cases including Escela Nueva, Grameen Bank, Partners in Health, Riders for Health, Big Society Capital and many more and the individual social entrepreneurs behind these inspiring stories. The authors’ objective has been to create a workable definition of social entrepreneurship (in this they partially succeed though admit it is an ongoing process), and a model ‘pour encourager les autres’ . The model they propose for achieving equilibrium change is four-staged: First, a would-be social entrepreneur must truly understand the current status quo, secondly envision a new future that is radically changed but stable, thirdly he or she must innovate and build a model for change that will bring the vision to life, and finally the successful entrepreneur needs to scale their solution to be free from the constant reapplication of investment so as to have a sustainable impact over the long-term. Social entrepreneurs will typically not have access to traditional capital markets so the final scaling stage can be a particular challenge. However by designing their solution to benefit from economies of scale, by engaging with a wide range of stakeholders including government agencies and private sector companies, and by adopting an open-source IP sharing approach many organization have been able to achieve the scale needed to sustain significant equilibrium change. The innovations that have in the past disrupted the status quo have largely been either led by government action powered by political motivation, or led by businesses powered by profit and monetary motivation. Social entrepreneurs operate outside of these spheres but very often succeed because, recognizing their strengths and weaknesses, they are able to borrow, adapt, and align themselves with both to drive change. This valuable book helps set the framework for both for future social entrepreneurs and for potential funders and supporters who can help them make the world a fairer and better place.

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