Getting Beyond Better

How Social Entrepreneurship Works

by Roger L. Martin , Sally R. Osberg

Number of pages: 272

Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press

BBB Library: Entrepreneurship, Corporate Success

ISBN: 978-1633690684

About the Authors

Roger L. Martin : Roger Martin CM was the Dean of the Rotman School of


Sally R. Osberg : Sally R. Osberg is President and CEO of the Skoll Foundation,


Editorial Review

Getting Beyond Better sets forth a bold new framework, demonstrating how and why meaningful change actually happens in the world and providing concrete lessons and a practical model for businesses, policymakers, civil society organizations, and individuals who seek to transform our world for good. Roger L. Martin and Skoll Foundation President and CEO Sally R. Osberg describe how social entrepreneurs target systems that exist in a stable but unjust equilibrium and transform them into entirely new, superior, and sustainable equilibria. All of these leaders—call them disrupters, visionaries, or changemakers—develop, build, and scale their solutions in ways that bring about the truly revolutionary change that makes the world a fairer and better place.

Book Reviews

“Getting Beyond Better demonstrates how and why meaningful change actually happens in the world and provides concrete lessons and a practical model for businesses, policymakers, civil society organizations, and individuals who seek to transform our world for good.” - Skoll Foundation

“In Getting Beyond Better, Roger L. Martin and Sally R. Osberg place the field of social entrepreneurship in historical context and present a “rough roadmap” for aspiring social entrepreneurs. To illustrate that roadmap, they use biographical vignettes of widely recognized social entrepreneurs, including Mohammed Yunus of Grameen Foundation and Paul Farmer of Partners in Health, as well as lesser-known figures such as Adalberto Veríssimo of Imazon and Ann Cotton of Camfed. For readers who are new to social entrepreneurship, this book provides a useful overview of the field and its protagonists.” - Stanford Social Innovation Review

“In Getting Beyond Better: How Social Entrepreneurship Works, business strategist Roger L. Martin and Sally R. Osberg, president and CEO of the Skoll Foundation, provide an overview of the burgeoning field of social entrepreneurship and share the stories of several social entrepreneurs who have changed — and are changing — the world for the better.”- Philanthropy News Digest

“Getting Beyond Better is not the definitive work on social entrepreneurship - the field is too complex to capture it all even in as impressive a book as this - but it is one of the best of a very large bunch. If you count yourself amongst the growing legions of people working to build a world that is beyond better, and treat your work as a craft that requires us to stay abreast of leading edge thinking, then this book is an essential part of your journey.” - Tamarack

“As many books out of the Harvard Business Review Press, Getting Beyond Better is and extremely academic and instructive book, but it also filled with great stories that will help you envision larger, societal solutions and give you some of the tools to implement them.” - 800-CEO-READ

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Wisdom to Share

For the social entrepreneur, an intensive understanding of a particular status quo propels all that follows. And for a full understanding of the world they want to change, social entrepreneurs must navigate three powerful tensions: abhorrence and appreciation, expertise and apprenticeship, and experimentation and commitment.

The most successful change agents must manage to both abhor the existing conditions and appreciate the system that produces them, deeply and well. They must truly understand how and why an equilibrium works, while remaining steadfast in their mission to shift it.

A successful social entrepreneur doesn’t experiment with new ideas randomly, but rather does so with sustained commitment to shifting an equilibrium. He uses experiments to build up knowledge and to enable commitment to the ones that prove out in practice.

Vision matters, whether for a business opportunity, a sports championship, or a governmental initiative. Without a compelling image of the future, and clear steps to achieving it, entrepreneurs will drift and fail.

The act of building a powerful model for change is a key differentiator between successful social entrepreneurs and those who have a vision for change but fail to bring it to fruition.

Within every social entrepreneur is a belief that even the most intractable problem offers an opportunity for change. Instead of cursing the darkness, they shine a light on what might be different.

By operating outside the traditional capital markets, social entrepreneurs don’t need to restrict their activities to protect investments on behalf of shareholders who demand a return. They’re therefore able to more freely utilize an open-source approach that provides their intellectual property and/or operating model to the world.