Strategic Questions for Social Entrepreneurs
- What type of change is the system in which my organization is working experiencing? Is the system continuously changing, or is it relatively stable?
Systems in a state of rapid flux are often ripe for new innovations, whereas relatively stable systems may require significant disruption to experience change.
- Does my organization have the necessary credibility and/or objectivity to influence the system’s actors?
Some organizations are naturally positioned to have systems influence, while others may be perceived as having a bias towards their own products and solutions. An honest look inward is an important step in determining how to move ahead at a systems level.
- Does my organization have the capacity to work at a systems level? Or does it need to build capacity internally to begin this style of working?
Systems work may require new skills and organizational capacities that your organization does not have yet. Many organizations have hired staff members skilled at providing products and services, but who do not (yet) have the systems skills of influencing, convening, advocating and teaching.
- Is my organization’s revenue model or funding source conducive to this type of work? Or will we need to find additional revenue/funding to pursue a systemic approach?
For social entrepreneurs, systems work is still relatively new, and few funders have been found who think this way. Furthermore, for-profit social enterprises are primarily focused on business-to-consumer models that may be difficult to adapt to a systems context. Funding efforts at systems change may require entirely new revenue streams and models.
- How will my organization measure its progress in affecting systems-wide change?
Traditional measures of reach, such as the number of beneficiaries or clients, can be misleading when approaching systems change. Measuring the progress and impact of systems efforts will require organizations to identify the milestones that individuals, communities and governments must reach to shape and develop new systems. Only then will organizations be able to attribute their activities to systems progress.