How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas by David Bornstein

This book was also given to me as a gift, and I also found it to be an incredibly insightful and informative resource for my current undertaking.  My more observant readers will notice that, yes, it is by the same author, David Bornstein.  I was not familiar with him before reading these books, but a quick Google search reveals that he, too, has a WordPress blog!  (David Bornstein’s blog)  Wikipedia describes him as “a journalist and author who specializes in writing about social innovation.”  If you don’t believe me, check it out for yourself.  (David Bornstein’s Wikipedia page)  Anyways, some excerpts/ideas/references that I would like to give more thinking/research into:

– “Where governments and traditional organizations look at problems from the outside, social entrepreneurs come to understand them intimately, from within.  Through a persistence of looking they discover the mistaken assumptions that lead policy makers astray.  Because they do not have armies or police forces behind them, they work to elicit change rather than impose it, so they build human capacity rather than encouraging dependency.” (p. xii)

– “In fact, the greatest risk to social entrepreneurship today is the shortage of growth financing necessary to build a critical mass of organizations that can achieve major and visible – i.e. national level – success.” (p. xii)

– “True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

– “If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.” – Thomas Edison

– (About Bill Drayton) “And he speaks in soft, patient tones, having been taught by his parents that to speak loudly is to imply that what you have to say is not that important.” (p. 13)

– “Rosa saw that to make it cost effective, he would have to package it with something else – the way he’d packaged Amaral’s monophase system with irrigation in Palmares.” (p. 32)

– “In both places, Rosa said the problem was lack of motivation and following through.  ‘The technicians were trying to make the project work from their offices,’ Rosa said.  ‘You have to go there.'” (p. 33)

– “‘The context and the environment have changed,’ he went on.  ‘But the necessity of my work is the same.  I am an entrepreneur, and as an entrepreneur, I am always possessed by an idea.  If it doesn’t go well, you haven’t come to the end.  You have to do more work.  If you haven’t succeeded, the work goes on.”‘ (p. 33)

– “What most fascinated Drayton about Gandhi were his “how-tos”: How did Gandhi craft his strategy?  How did he build his institutions?  How did he market his ideas?  Drayton discovered that Gandhi, despite his other-worldly appearance, was fully engaged in the details of politics, administration, and implementation.

Over the years Drayton came to believe that Gandhi’s greatest insight was recognizing early in the twentieth century that a new type of ethics was emerging in the world – an ethics grounded not in rules, but in empathy.  It was a change that was necessary as human society grew increasingly complex.  In the past, when people lived in homogenous communities and rarely moved far from their birthplaces, rule based ethics had been adequate to govern human relations.  But the world had become too fast paced and interconnected for rule based ethics.  There were too many interactions in which rules were outdated and belief systems clashed.  The new circumstances demanded that people become more ethically self guiding: People had to be able to put themselves in the shoes of those around them.  Those who could not navigate situations in which rules were changing or could not master the skills of empathetic understanding would find themselves unable to manage their behavior wisely and ethically; increasingly, Drayton asserted, they would be seen as “loose cannons” and marginalized within society.” (p.49 – 50)

– “And like all good leaders he made people feel bigger, not smaller.” (p. 53)

– “McClelland found that individuals witha  high need for achievement tended to be less influenced than others by suggestions as to what they should do, think, or believe.  They were “oriented forward in time toward longer range goals, even when that means foregoing immediate pleasures.”  They were less conforming and cared less about public recognition.  What influenced them most in engaging problems were facts.  They preferred the counsel of experts to friends.  They were not gamblers.  They tended, in fact, to be conservative in games of chance and daring in games of skill, at which they usually overestimated their chances of success.  While others viewed entrepreneurs as risk takers, McClelland noted that they did not see themselves this way.  They typically accepted challenges only when they perceived that there was an acceptable chance of success and when the main determinant of success was their skill.” (p. 53)

– “The last thing in the world that anyone from industry’s side wanted was someone to find a new and better way of controlling pollutions because then, given the law, they’d all have to go and spend money to implement it.” (p. 57)

– Jeroo Billimoria’s story of Childline.

– “‘Childline is not a charity service or a welfare service,’ she added.  ‘It is a rights service.  We are not helping ‘poor children.’  I want to take the word ‘poor’ out of our vocabulary.  If we take a charity approach, we will be here for 50,000 years and nothing will be different.  We are a child rights service.  Childline has to play the lead role in this!'” (p. 73)

– “‘Now,’ she went on, ‘what is the first thing you do if you make a mistake?’

‘ACKNOWLEDGE IT’ came the group’s response.” (p. 73)

– “‘Remember our mission: The child comes first.  We don’t work for the government.  We don’t work for any organization.  We work for the child.  The child comes first.'” (p. 74)

– “Childline also had the hallmarks of a twenty-first century organization.  It was integrated and decentralized.  It blended technology and human services.  It linked government, business, and citizen groups to maximize efficacy.  And, best of all, it was low cost, involving almost no bricks and mortar.  Just about everything that Childline needed to work was already on the ground.  At essence, Childline was about turning a city into a team.” (p. 84)

– “‘In a collaborating agency, the first thing we look at is: Are they responsive and ree with kids?  We talk to the staff.  It’s very rare that we look at their reports – because they can put anything on paper.  We look at how they really work.  What are their processes?  Intake policies?  Are they flexible?  Would they be willing to accept a child at 2:00 AM?  What if the child doesn’t have documentation?” (p. 87)

– “Once I asked Jeroo to describe the most important thing she had learned from her work with Childline in India.  She thought for a moment, then replied: ‘If I have to summarize it in one line, it would be, ‘Learning to let go.’ Everything will not be exactly the way you want it.  You have to let people take charge.  The best thing is not to have a picture of what you want, but to have basic principles.” (p. 91)

– “There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come.” – Victor Hugo

– “An idea is like a play.  It needs a good producer and a good promoter even if it is a masterpiece.  Otherwise, the play may never open; or it may open but, for lack of an audience, close after a week.  Similarly, an idea will not move from the fringes to the mainstream simply because it is good; it must be skillfully marketed before it will actually shift people’s perceptions and behavior.” (p. 94)

– “‘The major factor in our resistance to change is the desire not to have the will of others forced on us.'” (p. 94)

– “Lasker’s blood pressure campaign is a straightforward example of marketing.  But marketing doesn’t necessarily involve communicating through the media.  The essence of good marketing is ensuring that anyone on the path to your destination who can foil your plans by saying no says yes.  And if that isn’t possible, it means finding another path.” (p. 98)

– “In the left column, she wrote, ‘He will never marry,’ and next to it wrote, ‘A lot of people never marry.’  Below that, in the left column, she wrote, ‘He will never learn to cook,’ and beside that wrote, ‘A lot of people never learn to cook.’  Then: ‘He will never learn to wash clothes,’ and beside that, ‘A lot of people in society don’t wash their clothes.’

‘Through this process, I began to see that disabled people are not qualitatively different from nondisabled people; they are quantitatively different.  There are simply more things that disabled people will not be able to do in their lives compared to nondisabled people.'” (p. 102)

– “‘I tell people, if you really believe in something, you just have to do it and do it and do it, because if I had given up one month prior to 1989, I would have ended up with nothing.'” (p. 107)

– “Even as support for Alliance’s work grew among disability advocates, many health professionals remained unenthusiastic.  Szekeres was criticized as an amateur dabbling in areas beyond her expertise.  ‘They didn’t attack my ideas with counterarguments,’ she recalled.  ‘Instead, they would say, ‘What do you know?  You’re not a professional.  You’re simply a parent.'” (p. 112)

– “Only when it is taught in universities will people believe it.” (p. 118)

– “People understand this field by anecdote rather than theory.  A fellow we elect becomes a walking anecdote of what we mean by a social entrepreneur.  And we have to be very clear about this.” (p. 120)

– “To say that something is new, one must know if the idea has been tried before.  If so, what happened?  If it failed, why did it fail?  If it succeeded, what is the candidate going to do to improve on it?  what combination of ingredients make the candidate’s approach more practical, scalable, or cost effective, or better rooted politically, than prior attempts.” (p. 122)

– Ashoka’s four criteria in their interviews:

“‘The first criterion is creativity,’ he began.  ‘This has got two parts to it: the goal setting creativity – the visionary seeing over the horizon to a different pattern in the field; and the problem solving creativity – to get to that new place, there are a thousand hurdles, a thousand adjustments that these people have to make and they have to be creative about it.  They have to find new ways around barriers all the time.  So we have to look for both types of creativity.  One alone is not enough.'” (p. 124)

– “Cordeiro frequently has to remind herself that Renascer does not exist to solve all of Brazil’s woes.  Its job is to ensure that vulnerable children treated at Hospital de Lagoa truly benefit from the medical care they receive and, as far as possible, stay healthy outside of the hospital.

It’s a limited mission, with measurable, time bound goals.  The idea is to do it systematically, showing the way so that, in due time, the real treatment becomes the standard treatment.” (p. 136)

– “‘What McKinsey did was like a revolution!’  Cordeiro exclaimed.  But the revolution was not without complications.  What happens, for example, when you apply a business management framework to an organization involved in social change?  How do you balance financial and human considerations?  How do you professionalize without losing intimacy?  How do you standardize without losing flexibility?  How do you redraw reporting lines without alienating old friends?’ (p. 148)

– “The key is to put the problem solving knowledge directly into the hands of family and community members.” (p. 155)

– “For me that was the ‘aha!’ moment.  The challenge was to get the colleges to see these kids as I saw them.  Because many were better than their numbers suggested” (p. 166)

– “Teenagers are the single most influential group in a low income community.  If the teens are well engaged, it shifts the dynamic of that neighborhood.  You are never going to see lasting transformations in low income communities until there is a critical mass of college educated youth in those communities.” (p. 182)

– “Life is not just pain management” (p. 202)

– “One of the most important qualities of innovative organizations, I have found, is a strong commitment to listening.” (p. 205)

– “‘We used to arrive the first day in a slum and tell people: ‘AIDS is very important to know about.  You must take care of your health, and so on,’ he told me.  “It would go in one ear and out the other.  Now, when we go into a community, we don’t mention AIDS for six months.  We have learned that people first have to gain knowledge about their bodies and living conditions.  So we begin by talking about what it means to be black in our society.  We talk about gender.  We build up commitment and confidence.  When they start the AIDS workshops, they are aware of their rights, bodies, blackness, and situation as women – and how all these can be threatened by AIDS.  Otherwise, they can just say, ‘Why be healthy?  What for?'” (p. 209)

– “Organizations whose success hinges on high quality human interaction generally pay close attention to soft qualities when recruiting, hiring, and managing staff.” (p. 211)

– “It is said that chance only favors the prepared mind.” (p. 215)

– “Returning to India in 1989, Abidi was eager to begin his journalism career.  He wasn’t worried about landing a job.  He had a degree from a U.S. college, a 4.0 GPA, lots of newspaper clips.  It took two months of rejections before it occurred to him that perhaps people didn’t want to hire a journalist in a wheelchair.  Prospective employers always inquired: ‘How aer you going to get around?’  Abidi had a stock reply: ‘How I get around is my problem.  Give me an assignment, give me a deadline, and if I don’t deliver on time, then you can fire me.'” (p. 219)

– “I saw that service delivery was not the way to overcome the problem of disability in India.  Fundamental change had to begin with a coherent, national policy.” (p. 220)

– “It is commonly assumed that highly successful entrepreneurs are more confident and persistent than most others, including less successful entrepreneurs.  This may not be true: One of the most intriguing papers I came across in my research contrasted the behavior of “highly successful” and “average” entrepreneurs and found that the most successful entrepreneurs were not necessarily more confident, persistent, or knowledgeable.  The key differences had more to do with the quality of their motivation.  The most successful entrepreneurs were the ones most determined to achieve a long term goal that was deeply meaningful to them.  Accordingly, they tended to be more systematic in the way they searched for opportunities, anticipated obstacles, monitored results, and planned ahead.  They were more concerned with quality and efficiency and more committed to the people they employed and engaged with in business or as partners.  Finally, they valued long term considerations over short term gain.” (p. 238)

– “The entrepreneur’s inclination to self correct stems from the attachment to a goal rather than to a particular approach or plan.’ (p. 238 – 239)

– “All innovation entails the ability to separate from the past.” (p. 241)

– “One of the primary functions of the social entrepreneur is to serve as a kind of social alchemist: to create new social compounds; to gather together people’s ideas, experiences, skills, and resources in configurations that society is not naturally aligned to produce.” (p. 241)

– “Most of the fellows I interviewed said that the credibility, confidence, contacts, and ideas they gained through Ashoka were more valuable than the money.” (p. 243)

– “In his Memoirs Jean Monnet, the architect of European unification, observes that “one cannot concentrate on an objective and oneself at the same time.”  To Monnet, people of ambition fell into two groups: those who wanted to “do something” and those who wanted to “be someone.” (p. 243)

– “One day I sent Fabio Rosa an email.  ‘Why do you work on the kind of projects you do?’  I asked.  ‘Why don’t you just want to make a lot of money?”

I waited a month for his reply.

“I guess the delay in answering your questions was due to the responsibility in sending you a good answer,’ he began.  “I am trying to build a little part of the world in which I would like to live.  A project only makes sense to me when it proves useful to make people happier and the environment more respected, and when it represents a hope for a better future.  This is the soul of my projects.

Looking back, many times I have asked myself exactly the same question – since there are easier things to do.  But this has been the only way I feel happy.  and I also believe that persistence and coherence are virtues and I like to see that I have them.

Working on the kind of projects I do means to dream with a new world in mind.  My projects always renew my faith in a harmonic way of living, without misery.  With our intelligence, knowledge, and culture, it is not necessary to destroy the environment to build.  When people work together  they are powerful; there is friendship.  In the end, there is peace, harmony, tranquility, optimism.

If there is a deeply human motivation in all of this, it is that my projects are related to practical, doable work.  We need to actuate and cause change.  Even if the inspiration is romantic, it desires material results, a re-colored reality.

About money – I need money.  Money is very important to accomplish my projects.  But money only matters if it helps to solve people’s problems and to create the world I described above.  My projects help people around me to acquire wealth and in some ways this comes back to me.

It has been an intellectual and creative challenge to build models that can be used by excluded and deprived people, to create sustainable livelihoods and promote social inclusion.

Creating projects, implementing them and succeeding, witnessing one’s dreams come true, is happiness.  Money just makes it easier.

For all these reasons, I work the way I do.  I am a slave to my dreams, thoughts, and ideas.  That is all.” (p. 244 – 245)

– James P. Grant

– “In the end, Grant’s most effective defense against his critics was his integrity.” (p. 252)

– “Grant also looked for support in unconventional places.  He knew that the archbishop of Bogota had a thousand times more influence than the minister of health.” (p. 253)

– “The secret to the success of the partnership is the adaptation and translation of language.” (p. 263)

-“In his book Guns, Germs and Steel, the scientist Jared Diamond notes that knowledge can be transmitted from one society to another by a variety of means, some of which are highly efficient and some of which are not.  The least efficient way to transmit knowledge is “idea diffusion” – “when you receive little more than the basic idea and have to reinvent the details,” he writes.  The most efficient is “blueprint copying” – “when you copy or modify an available detailed blueprint.” (p. 267)

– “One of the essential differences between a planned and a market economy is the role of competition.  In the past, citizen sector organizations have been insulated from the forces of head to head competition.  However, as the sector continues to attract talent, competition is likely to intensify – particularly as social entrepreneurs seek to “capture” the benefits of their innovations and as funders, journalists, and citizens come to demand better performance.” (p. 276)

– “Unlike businesses, unproductive citizen organizations don’t get forced into bankruptcy.  If they can continue to raise funds, they can plod along ineffectually for decades.” (p. 277)

– “One consequence of this problem is that the citizen sector does not experience the organizational turnover that keeps the business sector sharp.  For example, in 2002, of the twenty largest service providing nonprofit organizations in the U.S. (excluding governmental and religious groups), twelve had been established prior to 1920 and seventeen had been established prior to 1960.  None was established after 1980.  By contrast, more than half of the thirty companies included in the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 2002 were added to the index after 1980, and more than a third were added after 1990.” (p. 278)

– “The human mind is a miracle of subtlety: It can assimilate thousands of pieces of soft information – impressions, experiences, intuition – and produce wonderfully  nuanced decisions.  Numbers are problematic to the extent that they give the illusion of providing more truth than they actually do.  They also favor what is easiest to measure, not what is most important.  They can easily be used to dress up failure as success – as when a company boosts its short term profits by slashing its R&D budget.” (p. 280)

– “Every day citizens weigh competing arguments and make life and death decisions that don’t employ quantitative data: when they serve on juries in criminal trials.  The jury system is an excellent example of a structured process that uses decision rules and analytic tools – conceptual tests such as “reasonable doubt” – and relies, ultimately, on the application of courageous judgement.” (p. 281)

– “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” – Goethe

Resource Guide for Organizations that Identify and/or Support (or Invest in) Social Entrepreneurs

– Acumen fund,

– Ashoka,

– Avina Foundation,

– Case Foundation,

– Changemakers,

– Civic Ventures Purpose Prize,

– Draper Richards Foundation,

– Echoing Green Foundation,

– Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation,

– Good Capital,

– Lemelson Foundation,

– Manhattan Institute Social Entrepreneurship Awards,

– New Profit Inc.,

– New Schools Venture Fund,

– Omidyar Network,

– Robert Wood Johnson Foundation,

– Robin Hood Foundation,

– The Skoll Foundation,

– Social Edge,

– Social Fusion,

– Social Venture Partners,

– Surdna Foundation,

– Tides Center,

– UNltd,

– Youth Venture,

– The Yound Foundation,


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