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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