The Social Intrapreneur
SustainAbilitySustainAbility’s second Skoll Programreport investigates the role of the new breedof social intrapreneurs working within business — and assesses the potential forcollaboration with social entrepreneurs.
Don’t ask for permission, ask for forgiveness.That is the motto of many social entre-preneurs we have come across — and in somecases worked with. But I think I owe our readers a personal word or two of explanationboth on the subject matter of this latestsurvey report and on its unusual style. When the Skoll Foundation awardedSustainAbility a three-year grant in 2006,the focus was on field-building in relationto social entrepreneurship. So why are wenow haring off into the corporate world of social
preneurs?Our reasoning runs as follows. Socialentrepreneurs are some of the mostextraordinary changemakers (to use Ashoka’sterm) in the world today.
And, with severalwinning Nobel Peace Prizes and many othersspotlighted by awards from organizations like Acumen, Ashoka, Echoing Green, Endeavor and the Schwab and Skoll foundations, theassumption might be that — if the rest of uswould get out of the way — these peoplewould save the world. Hardly. As
put it in reviewing
The Power of Unreasonable People
thebook summarizing our work in this field,“The greatest agents for sustainable changeare unlikely to be [social entrepreneurs],interesting though they are . . . They aremuch more likely to be the entirelyreasonable people, often working for largecompanies, who see ways to create better products or reach new markets, and havethe resources to do so.”
This is the line of inquiry that we further pursue in this second round of our Skoll Program. Who, we ask, are the corporate equivalentsof social entrepreneurs, the people withwhom entrepreneurs might want to engageto build the high-potential partnershipswith mainstream business that featured sohigh in their wish-list during our
And how do they seethe parallel fields of social entrepreneurshipand intrapreneurship? Our research andfindings are presented in what follows.The Field Guidestyle is both a signal thatwe do not claim to have discovered UniversalTruths on the basis of our work to date —and an effort to make a sometimes complexfield more accessible to a wider audience,particularly senior policy-makers anddecision-takers.In closing, my personal thanks go to Jeff Skoll and Sally Osberg and their colleaguesat the Skoll Foundation, to Maggie Brennekeand Alexa Clay at SustainAbility, who blazedour trail through the jungle, and to RupertBassett for helping us turn the Field Guideidea into what you hold in your hands. We enjoyed this project enormously — andhope that you find value in this report. Any comments would be much appreciated.