Giving Compass’ Take:
• Rachel Sinha discusses the role of a systems entrepreneur and how they work to change social systems for the better.
• Systems entrepreneur create solutions that address root causes of problems. Are you supporting systems entrepreneurs in your giving?
• Learn more about systems entrepreneurs.
‘Systems leader’, ‘systemsprenuer’, or ‘systems entrepreneur’. Pick your favorite. Regardless of which one you go for, the concept is emerging with SSIR, HBR and MIT all using it, along with a cluster of philanthropic foundations and consultancies.
But what defines a systems entrepreneur?
Their intention is systemic change
Systems theory tells us that we don’t actually ‘change systems’, instead we cultivate the conditions that encourage a system to change itself. Nevertheless, the defining characteristic of a systems entrepreneur is their understanding that things don’t change if we work only on the symptoms of major problems. We have to understand the underlying forces that keep things as they are.
Their key skill is facilitation
Systems entrepreneurs are often natural ecosystem builders. It’s almost a personality type. They connect unlikely allies, build networks, they help people find others who want to change the same thing. Kevin Jones called these people “Community Quarterbacks”, Geneva Global describes them as “a person or organization that facilitates a change to an entire ecosystem, by addressing and incorporating all the components and actors required to move the needle on a particular social issue.”
They get off their bum and make stuff happen
They initiate. They create projects and programs and coalitions and incubators that didn’t exist before. They are entrepreneurial in nature, even if money isn’t the value they create.
They also take personal risk, sometimes financial risk too. As disruptors of the status quo, their role is often questioned (‘who are you to convene?’). They have to lead strategy that goes against the wishes of powerful actors, without complete knowledge of where they will end up.
Read the full article about systems entrepreneurs by Rachel Sinha at Medium.
If you are looking for more articles and resources for Social Enterprise, take a look at these Giving Compass selections related to impact giving and Social Enterprise.
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If you are interested in Social Enterprise, please see these relevant events, training, conferences or volunteering opportunities the Giving Compass team recommends.
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