The Real Architects of Social Change: Live from Davos

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Everybody seemed to agree that the world is now facing some serious problems: Climate change, persistent poverty and inequality, the failure of financial systems, environmental degradation, the impeding exhaustion of cheap minerals and oil and so on.

And everybody seemed determine to provide solutions to these problems.

Prominent among these proposed solutions: Social entrepreneurship. Several prominent social entrepreneurs—including Muhammad Yunus—were given the floor to explain how they were helping change the world.

Davos: Solving Social Problems with Passion

While these stories of ordinary individuals who succeeded in making a big difference are inspirational, they do give the impression that all that is needed to solve complex social problems is passion, enthusiasm and persistence in the face of obstacles.

Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.

You can hit your head against the wall with as much passion and determination as you can muster but it won’t knock the wall down. More than passion and determination, we need to knowhow to go about introducing change.

Change Management: What the Books Don’t Prescribe

There are obviously many good ideas on how to introduce change successfully. For example, approaching the task in a creative way is important. So is the ability to think strategically about the issues and to use well-known and accepted principles of good management (such as having allies or a compelling vision).

Any book on change (and there are hundreds of them!) can give you a huge list of ideas and suggestions on how to introduce change successfully. But when it comes to social problems we need more than the wonderful advice contained in all these books on change.

Social problems differ from other problems in several subtle ways. These differences make them unique. As a result, they require a different change process from what we normally advice people on. Three areas of difference in particular stand out:

Source: CSRwire (link opens in a new window)

Base of the Pyramid, scale, social enterprise