With the best of motives in mind, nonprofit managers think of themselves as reasonable people. But in their book The Power of Unreasonable People, John Elkington and Pamela Hartigan maintain that innovative, resourceful, practical, opportunistic people are coming up with new ways to combine markets and meaning. They are social entrepreneurs.
Successful social entrepreneurs:
• Try to shrug off the constraints of ideology or discipline;
• Identify and apply practical solutions to social problems, combining innovation, resourcefulness and opportunity;
• Innovate by finding a new product, a new service or a new approach to a social problem;
• Focus, first and foremost, on social value creation and, in that spirit, are willing to share their innovations and insights for others to replicate;
• Jump in before ensuring they are fully resourced;
• Have an unwavering belief in everyone’s innate capacity, often regardless of education, to contribute meaningfully to economic and social development;
• Show a dogged determination that pushes them to take risks others wouldn’t dare;
• Balance their passion for change with a zeal to measure and monitor their impact;
• Have a great deal to teach change-makers in other sectors; and,
• Display a healthy impatience (e.g., they don’t do well in bureaucracies, which can raise succession issues as their organizations grow, and almost inevitably become more bureaucratic).