What is the Difference between Social Innovation, Social Enterprise & Social Entrepreneurship?

picture courtesy of The Dallas Morning News

I am often asked how I come up with blog topics. The answer is some come from collective client work, some are sparked by life experience and others are inspired by colleagues. Today’s topic comes out of Dallas’ Startup Week, where I recently had the pleasure of serving on a panel called “So You Want to Do Some Good.” We had a great conversation about a wide variety of topics, including our vision for the future of social change. If you are interested, here is a great synopsis.

The panel reminded me that as more people join the tribe we call “social entrepreneurs,” the greater our need is for common social terminology. More importantly, we need common definitions for the terms we use, or we risk them becoming meaningless.

As a social entrepreneur for more than two decades, I have started many social enterprises. I have not only studied the nature of the work, but I have also practiced it, on my own and through clients. Drawing on my experience in the field, I have developed a simple construct to help unite us and showcase the three main approaches to social change:

What brings us together in the social sector is our common belief that social change is essential to creating a society in which everyone prospers. And, as I shared in my thoughts about my vision for the future at the panel, I am hopeful for the day when social change is no longer discussed separately from other forms of business, because every business impacts and determines outcomes for people in our communities. We’d love to hear your thoughts on these definitions and how we can help standardize social terminology.

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