5 Books for Every Social Entrepreneur’s Holiday Wish List

Posted by on November 30, 2009 in Book Club, Entrepreneurship, Featured, Strategy, World - 12 Comments

Read!‘Tis the season for giving…and receiving. If you’re a social entrepreneur looking for items (other than funding) to put on your wishlist, check out these great reads.


In my opinion, the definitive work on social enterprise and BOP business. The “how to” do good while doing good. The new anniversary edition includes additional case studies that provide critical learnings for social entrepreneurs of all stripes.

The Innovator’s Solution by Clayton Christensen and Michael Raynor

A famous treatise on innovation by the godfather of Innosight Ventures (Clayton Christensen). This sequel to “The Innovators’s Dilemma” lays out how disruptive innovation happens. Social enterprise and BOP business represent the extreme in disruptive innovation, so this is not just good reading, it’s hugely relevant.

Dealing with Darwin by Geoffrey Moore

Perhaps the most intense and thoughtful work on innovation out there. Geoffrey Moore walks through the innovation life cycle in great detail, thus putting forward a methodology for managing product and organizational life cycles for sustainable success. Because when these things are not well-managed, today’s Google becomes tomorrow’s GM.

Built to Last by James Collins and Jerry Porras.

The often-forgotten prequel to “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, this book outlines the factors that tend to create sustainable and visionary organizations. Along the way, they shatter a number of myths, including the idea that great companies began with great products and/or charismatic leaders or that they came into being to maximize profits.
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Moneyball by Michael Lewis OR Competing on Analytics by Thomas Davenport and Jeanne Harris.
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Given the focus on metrics in the social enterprise space, I wanted this wish list to include a book on the topic. However, I couldn’t decide on just one, so you’ll have to choose for yourself.  “Moneyball” by Michael Lewis is a fun and fascinating read on the metrics revolution in pro baseball led by Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s. The story give insight into how to make metrics that matter and illustrates how old metrics die hard. “Competing on Analytics,” on the other hand, is a more business-theoretical book that aspires to be a “how to” use metrics to establish competitive advantage. Lots of good anecdotes here, as well.

Mike Shoemaker

Mike is a graduate of St. Olaf College in Minnesota and a former Fulbright Scholar at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogota, Colombia. Mike currently manages strategic alliances for a global consulting firm, is a volunteer and advisor to The Ayllu Initiative, and blogs at Human Ventures.

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