Michèle Leaman

Michèle works with faculty, administrators, and students to change complex institutional systems to become more supportive environments for social entrepreneurship and changemaking.

More Needles Needed

Alan Webb, who works with Laura White on the Ashoka U incubated project The Change School, posted an interesting quote on Idea Engine that led us to think about social entrepreneurship credentials.

“The students that stick with the system do so because they understand that school is still the only place where they can get the one thing they believe they need, which is a credential.  If they can find a way to get a strong enough credential elsewhere for what they want to do in life, then you might see a lot more students checking out.”

Are the credentials that colleges and universities offer meaningful indicators of competence in changemaking? What are changemaker competencies? How can colleges and universities assess competence in changemaking?

The Joshua Venture Group, an organization that identifies and supports social entrepreneurs, recently took a reflective look at their selection process.

“How could we effectively assess that someone who was at an early stage of a project had the potential to be a successful social entrepreneur?”

In search of answering this question, the Joshua Venture Group generated a report tellingly titled “Picking a Needle out of a Haystack,” that describes their process of narrowing in on the core competencies that are required for successful social entrepreneurship. Here are some of the top, “mission-critical” skills:

  • Managing Vision and Purpose
  • Perseverance
  • Dealing With Ambiguity
  • Interpersonal Savvy
  • Action Oriented
  • Learning on the Fly

The report does an excellent job at describing what changemakers look like. Identifying promising changemakers shouldn’t be as hard as picking a needle out of a haystack. Perhaps colleges and universities can help by instituting more transparent credentials and offering the kind of education that helps every student graduate a changemaker.