Most books about emerging, improved leadership and management methods capture high points among well known examples that haven't changed in years: Fortunately, The Power of Unreasonable People is a happy exception to that common weakness in being forward looking. As an example, the book ends with a call for filling in what's missing for social entrepreneurs to become an unstoppable force that solves the world's most important and persistent problems.
Who should read this book? Anyone who wants to make a difference in producing a society that provides better opportunities and qualities of life for everyone. If you think you might want to start a social enterprise, you should be reading this book today.
Why do I say these things? I recently sat through four days of conferences at a well-known university where the leading lights among its alumni described what they were doing as social entrepreneurs. I was appalled by what I heard. All but one organization had no larger vision than to slowly build a small effort from foundation grants. If you added up all of the likely results from these organizations, it wouldn't amount to much . . . except to warm the heart strings. Clearly, no major solution problems were going to be improved except in a few locales.
What's more, the leading lights were almost totally unaware of other, more effective methods for how to accomplish similar things. They needed to read this book rather than attend those conferences.
I started writing about social entrepreneurs in 2002, and it was hard then to find examples of superior operating models being used by entrepreneurs (as opposed to attention-getting methods that reporters like to write about) that were affecting over 10 million people. A lot has changed since then. Now I run into social entrepreneurs all the time through my teaching who are developing operating models that could affect hundreds of millions of people.
I was pleased to find out about a number of social operating models in this book that could serve as useful examples to others in different fields. I intend to recommend this book to everyone I know who wants to learn about such new models. I also intend to read more about the most interesting of the many cases in this fine book. That's rare for me because I read a lot. I applaud the intensive research that is the basis for this book. Well done!
The book does have one limitation that I think would be worth addressing in a future book that updates what is reported on here: There isn't enough discussion of how to develop better business models by assembling bit and pieces of what others have done in new ways.
For example, the book correctly applauds (through different examples) the operating principles of open-source innovation, serving more people by eliminating harmful costs to provide offerings for 5-10 percent of the usual resources, employing local people with a good understanding of what's needed, measuring social performance as a way to inexpensively encourage others to shift their focus, and being able to become large rapidly. Imagine what could be accomplished if the best enterprises mentioned in this book had a process to add the aspects of those approaches that they aren't using now.
Check it out and take action!