Top 5 (social entrepreneurship) books of the year

OK, so one list is never enough (and there's more to follow!). Here's my top 5 reads of the year, bearing some relation to social entrepreneurship…usually.

1) Estates by Lynsey Hanley. You can read my full take on this but all I'll say here is that this is the book that's stayed with me most, influenced my thinking (about our work and more generally), and carried both intellectual and emotional force.

2) Fiasco by Thomas Ricks. Again, full review here, but this was the 'I thought I knew all about this, but turns out I didn't really' book of the year for me. And I never thought that reading a book about the US miliitary invasion of Iraq would have me reflecting on strategic planning and organisational learning. Go figure….


3) The Social Entrepreneur by Andrew Mawson. Not the best written book I've read this year, and not short of ego at times, but this was still a great, inspiring read with heavy dollops of truth and insight thrown in for good measure. And easily readable in a bitesize style as well.

4) Forces for Good by Leslie Crutchfield & Heather McLeod Grant. The hackles were raised in advance for this; my presumption was that it would be very American, very "scale, scale, scale", very business school etc. Some of that was true, but it also emphasised the importance of a network mindset, of leadership that lasts, of the importance of advocacy, of adaptability, and of appropriate scaling (in different sizes and speeds) etc. Worth weaving through the jargon for the insights (full review to follow in Soc Ent Magazine next year).


5) Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath. Fuller review in this post
but I loved this; very good commute reading, and full of useful, usable tips…particularly as I'd just moved into a job with 'communications' in the title. As 'sticky' as the ideas it talks about in its own way.

And a final couple of notes: I've just read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, which is really interesting on the nature of success and how it comes about (culture, timing, hours…as well as talent). More on that next year no doubt.

Also, I would have included Craig Dearden-Phillips's Your Chance to Change the World, if it wasn't endorsed / affiliated to us. I still think it's the best practical guide for budding social entrepreneurs out there….indeed, at an event where an SSE Fellow and I were speaking recently, he unprompted pulled out a copy and started recommending it to all present. After I pointed out that we'd endorsed it, and that many SSE Fellows had given advice / tips to Craig, said Fellow mentioned he had no idea we had anything to do with it but had found it by far the best guide he'd found. Nuff said, methinks.

Happy new year all: next up are my top 10 things that inspired in 2008, and top 10 predictions and trends for 2009.

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Top 10 social entrepreneurship posts of 2008

I love a list, and there's no time like Xmas / New Year for lists. So here's the first of three: the top 10 posts of this blog in the past year. Hopefully you enjoyed these and, if you haven't, now you can.

1) Philanthrocapitalism and new clothes: showing what a buzzword and a bit of controversy can do, this was the top read post of the year. And now you can buy the book in the UK too (half price…).

2) Giant summer round-up: clearly you were all in dire need of information after the summer break…or maybe it was the mention of my impending nuptials? Photos not to follow.

3) Top 5 social entrepreneurship debates in the world ever: inward-looking, navel-gazing, but up at number 3 nonetheless.

4) Storytelling in the modern world: delighted that this was so widely read….best session at the Skoll Forum this year bar none.

5) Virtual social networking: a blessing or a curse?: takes me back to those days when just mentioning "Facebook for charity" could garner you a headline in Third Sector….

6) A sad way to start the week: a tribute to Sarah Dodds, this….and that it was well read demonstrates in part how many people miss her.

7) Friday round-up: Gates, Cotton, Black and Schwartz: there's been many a Friday round-up this year, but this name-dropping link frenzy was the most popular back in January….

8) Innovation brokers: necessary intermediaries? Perhaps proving that ending a blog post with a question mark is a route to success, or that social innovation is hotter than social entrepreneurship? Who knows…

9) Wednesday round-up link fest: Craig, CIC, Catalyst: no idea why this is up there….answers on a postcard / blog comment.

10) What is social enterprise? animation: a non-textual post rounds out the top 10; although even better was the dryest of comments from our former Norwegian-US intern Thor: "You know, in America we have something called digitalized animation, it
works pretty well. I don't know if you've ever seen the movie Shrek."

On that bombshell…

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Thursday round-up: karaoke, kicking and kiva

Ok, a brief round-up of some useful links and info, having surfaced for air from various bits of writing. Sadly, no photos or film from the SSE Christmas do last night as yet (which ended with karaoke), but perhaps in the New Year…All I'll say is that there was a version of Hallelujah which won't be appearing on X Factor any time soon. On to more important things:

– Starting unbiasedly with ourselves, SSE has contributed the Social Entrepreneurship chapter to the Philanthropy UK Guide to Giving. I think it's a useful one-pager for people looking for an introduction to this world.

– Voice 09, SEC's big event, is coming together. Check out the details online…and probably see you in Birmingham.

– Piece in the Times today on celebrities and social enterprise which is interesting-ish

Good report on tackling worklessness by Blackburne House CEO (and SEC Chair) Claire Dove which pushes the need for (socially) entrepreneurial mindsets and self-employment

– Rod Schwartz continues to kick CICs, this time calling for action to change some of the regulations in light of the rapidly decreasing interest rates

– You may well have read the report on the Social Enterprise Ambassador programme shake-up (with two asked to leave); there's an interesting post + comments over on Rob Greenland's blog where I've contributed a fair bit

– The Spark programme for homelessness / social enterprise projects is renewed and open to new applications

Third Sector covers the social enterprise debate / identity project

Lord Mawson responds to the Queen's Speech and uses the opportunity to talk social entrepreneurship

– SSE Australia is happening; see here and here for more info

– I found this post, entitled Kiva is a menace very good in terms of how what seems to be an "internet-based" idea that can easily be replicated is actually much more particular, not least of which is that their leadership (I've met both Flannery's on different occasions) are so bloody good. Essential reading for those who are doing a "It's like Kiva meets MoveOn" type project

– NESTA are doing some interesting things in social finance

– And Nathaniel Whittmore continues to write great content on the blog; let's back his Make Social Entrepreneurship Support part of the National Service Plan (US) idea

– Check out Robert Mulhall, a Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Fellow (we love SEI), talking about his work on Irish TV

Till next time…..

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Human bandwidth

Human bandwidth is a new term for me, which somebody used in conversation yesterday. They meant it specifically in relation to being able to deal with the amount of information that flows into our inboxes, TV sets, radio stations, newsfeeds…..but I think it's a useful, more general way of thinking about our own personal capacity to do things, or process them. Or, as this post puts it, "what can you eliminate from your routine?"

Which, given that there seems to be an increasing trend for deadlines around the Christmas period, resonates strongly with me at the moment.

Longer posts to follow when bandwidth increases…..

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Social Entrepreneurship Summit video from Toronto

Just a quick link to the video footage from the Social Entrepreneurship Summit in Toronto in mid-November. And, though there are few things worse than watching yourself on video (and this is no different: it's all learning, I guess…!), here's the video of my presentation at the conference, along with that of Nigel Biggar from the Grameen Foundation. (To skip to the true horror, my bit is from about 6 minutes in, and also feature in the Q & A at the end; the presentation that goes with it is here).

SES08 – Social Metrics and Educating Social Entrepreneurs from SiG @ MaRS on Vimeo.

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