Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Book: How to Change the World

David Bornstein's How to Change the World is a must-read for anyone dabbling in the field of social entrepreneurship. The book presents numerous case studies of Ashoka fellows centered around Bill Drayton who has systematically found, supported, and promoted them. However the most insightful sections are provided by the author as he provides observations regarding patterns and common charateristics such as "Four Practices of Innovative Organizations" or "Six Qualities of Successful Social Entrepreneurs".

I find this book appropriate to highlight on this blog because the author's final call to action is to promote "Blueprint Copying", a phrase borrowed from Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel. Bornstein argues that the social sector has heretofore done well at 'idea sharing' and 'knowledge diffusion' but have not quite harnassed the power of "blueprint copying". I propose our present topic of microfranchising is none other than a version of blueprint copying.

One thing I came away with, and it relates to this concept of blueprint copying (microfranchising), is that these leading social entrepreneurs are truly remarkable individuals with incredible drives to see their vision come to reality. However this feeling of the power of a single highly motivated individual is coupled with a hope that their great visions can be replicated and expanded by perhaps the next tier of entrepreneurs through 'blueprint copying'. His final statement is similar to my vision of this blog, "the opportunities are endless--and they are just beginning to be seen."


Wouter said...

Dear David,
Interesting blog which I will visit more often.
I think Bornstein's book is interesting and inspiring, but the blueprint suggestion seems to go a bit too far, or maybe rather is too narrow.
Blueprints may ignore local contexts for example. He presumably means to include this, but the word may lead people to really literally copy concepts and then get disappointed because it does not work...
See my blog for more on this and very related topics
Wouter Kersten

David Stoker said...

I agree that over-extended copying can miss the mark in terms of contextual appropriateness. Another great book, Capital at the Crossroads, really stresses the need to take cues from the bottom in design and implementation. That is one of the strengths of the Academy, which I have posted about previously, they provide business training, let their students go out and create contextually appropriate businesses and then they help the most successful models replicate within the region.
I'll look through your old posts, thanks for the comment.