They’re Unreasonable Because They Want to Change the System

Look around, and the world is full of unsatisfactory equilibriums that entrepreneurs like Rincón love to disrupt. We are very likely in the early stages of the greatest periods of creative destruction in our global economy. Social and environmental entrepreneurs are not the answer to all our prayers, but they signal some of the ways in which we can steer the processes of change.

Their power derives from the fact that they spot dysfunction in the current system, and, unlike reasonable people who accommodate themselves to the status quo, they try to work out how to transition the system equilibrium to a different—and more functional—state.
Coming decades will require unprecedented levels of system change, so we had better listen to the unreasonable entrepreneurs who are exploring when, where, and how to effect change. In this spirit, some leading funders are already trying to identify and support social and environmental entrepreneurs.

For example, the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship has joined forces with the Lemelson Foundation to establish the Leapfrog Fund, designed to spur the transfer of successful innovations between entrepreneurs in different parts of the world. Such replication is one key part of system change, but another is altering the system conditions, the strategy adopted by would-be game changers like those behind the transparency, accountability, and emission-trading movements we will discuss in later chapters.

The risks of relative failure with such wildly ambitious goals are much greater, but the payoffs are also likely to be proportionately greater.