Choosing a social enterprise board is like starting a family. Unlike the unpredictability of life, you can control most variables, including the developmental stage of the child, how well you get along with the in-laws, and the financial situation you step into. As experienced board members from the Stanford community gathered for CSI’s Nonprofit Board Governance Institute last month, we asked a number of them to share their advice for choosing a first time board. I have summarized their collective wisdom and guidance.
Unlike 10 years ago, I’ve noticed a bias against setting up as a nonprofit among many of our budding social entrepreneurs. But we all know of powerhouse nonprofit organizations that do amazing work. Is nonprofit passé or overlooked? I decided to bring the expertise and experience of members of our community, both faculty and alumni, to bear on that question.
Professor Frank Flynn looks at the difference between “happiness” and “meaning” in life –– and how these two concepts relate to being prosocial.
After almost ten years at Stanford’s Center for Social Innovation, I am moving on to serve as the Chief Executive Officer of Tides, a robust platform to drive social change and innovation through grant making, social venture management services, advisory services, and advocacy. When I first arrived at CSI, the construction of “social innovation” hardly existed; the concept had no clear audience and the field was in its infancy. As I look back, there are three key trends that have been pivotal in shaping the field we see today.
When Carl Bass, President and CEO of Autodesk, got up to speak at our Social Innovation Summit last November, he provided a compelling perspective on key trends of our time. Carl was rare for a CEO, he did not talk directly about Autodesk or himself (the all too common company PR pitch) rather he brought the companies learning and expertise as a leader in 3D design, engineering, and entertainment software to bear on the world’s needs and opportunities for change. I’ve shared Bass’s thoughts, and elaborated on each point to highlight the way each trend might apply for social impact.
Thank you for being a part of our community of social innovators committed to building a better world for future generations. Imagination, innovation, and relationships inspire action to face the challenges around us every day. In 2014 we challenge all of you to embrace change.
Professor Frank Flynn describes how perceptions of “group membership” can influence whether others decide to help in emergency situations.
In Bhutan, the mountains rise so high that monastery lights on remote peaks blend in with the stars above at night. On high altitude passes, misty rains are indistinguishable from clouds drifting past. Boundaries in Bhutan melt into one another, and Mountain Hazelnuts as a company is no exception. MH does not fit comfortably within the confines of social enterprise, government project, or multinational company. Similarly, the people at Mountain Hazelnuts – outliers who don’t fit the mold – are its greatest asset. Bhutan is not an easy place to reach, and those who seek it out tend to hear the beat of a different drum. Blending personal passions into the workplace not only makes them more fulfilled and willing to stay, but also enhances the allure of the company to other high performers looking for an unconventional career.
At a recent World Economic Forum event in San Francisco Klaus Schwab was asked by an audience member what it takes to be a successful leader in today’s complex and fast paced world. He responded with four characteristics that he believes are critical for today’s leaders. I list these characteristics below, and then explore how they line up with the dimensions we at the Center for Social Innovation believe are central to leading for social impact.
Six weeks after returning to Stanford from Kenya, I feel prepared to reflect on everything that I saw and did. The experience I had with Living Goods far exceeded my expectations, both professionally and personally.