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There’s a name for people like you, and it’s "system entrepreneur."
The term refers to the idea that leaders need a broader set of characteristics and skills beyond simply organization- and program-building to truly move the needle on big social challenges. They must be open-minded and skilled at creating and mobilizing coalitions across sectors. They must be able to do research, influence policy, communicate, measure results, and collaborate to make the leap from direct impact to systemic impact.
Interest in and action on system entrepreneurship is starting to shift philanthropy in transformative ways. What’s perhaps most unique and promising about the idea is that the term "entrepreneur" is not used narrowly; it represents a shared mind-set for all of those working on social change — including donors, who are often viewed as disconnected from the work on the ground.
The rise of the system entrepreneur will create opportunities for everyone associated with the philanthropic sector:
If you are a philanthropist or foundation looking for large-scale impact, a system entrepreneur can help pull together the right partners and keep them on track toward a shared goal.
If you are a social entrepreneur with an innovative idea or model, you can team up with a system entrepreneur to find partners who can help you introduce that idea into a larger system.
If you are a public official who wants to bring together local, national, or international resources to address a problem, a system entrepreneur can orchestrate the solution.
The great challenges of our time, from climate change to mass underemployment to infectious disease, are inherently networked and devilishly complex. In other words, they need system entrepreneurs.
The more we all look at social impact as multifaceted and focus our skills and networks accordingly, the better chance we have of driving true systemic change.