On the blog

What We Buy Matters

It’s Sunday after Thanksgiving. Christmas must be tomorrow, or maybe “Black Friday” has become “Black Every Day” based on my email inbox and all the TV commercials I’ve seen the past few days. Buying stuff is alive and well. But something else is in the air, something I’m reminded of as I plow through end-of-course […] Read More

Thanks, Detroit

I have much to be thankful for — certainly my family, friends, and the opportunity to do what I love — but let me single out a city that I’m thankful to see on the rise.   Forbes recently listed the places where young people are happiest.  By grading cities on economic factors like compensation […] Read More

Microfinance, USA: Grameen America

If it’s November, then I must be teaching microfinance. For the last several years, as fall starts giving way to winter, I start to wind down my teaching  about social enterprise and “wind up” my teaching of microfinance. The past week, my class focused on microfinance in the United States. Microfinance is a considerably more […] Read More

A Complex, Economic Mess? Take Out Your Checkerboard.

A Complex, Economic Mess? Take Out Your Checkerboard. By Michael Gordon How strongly is one set of outcomes connected to another?   First, consider T. Rowe Price.   You may be familiar with them from their TV commercials.  Yes, commercials are meant to sell, and persuasiveness outsells accuracy. Still, the firm claims wisdom that borders […] Read More

Burnout is Bad for the World

To: Social Entrepreneurs Everywhere From: A Friend Take care of yourself. I just returned from an eye-opening week of hanging with and talking to social entrepreneurs and others in the change-the-world ecosystem who met at Opportunity Collaboration in Ixtapa, Mexico. Jonathan Lewis’ third annual “un-conference” provided a context for exchanging ideas, trading business cards, finding […] Read More

Unbuilding Complexity

By Michael Gordon Building blocks.  I’m fascinated by building blocks. Without them, complexity is impossible. But recently, I’ve been toying with the idea of “unbuilding blocks” — elements or processes that can help disassemble entrenched activities, processes, or institutions that are causing the world difficulty. An arch depends on its keystone for its strength and […] Read More

Do You Hear the Footsteps?

We’re in the final turn of August and I hear the footsteps of fall. Believe me, when you live in Michigan, they crunch like snow and are jet-engine loud.   Fall also means my return to the classroom.  Despite a lifelong love affair with summer, returning to the classroom is stimulating and helps keep me […] Read More

Growing Power — Better Food to More People

I will occasionally publish articles by others that illustrate central ideas in my  book. In this essay, Michelle Lin, a former student in my course on “Solving Society’s Problems through Innovation and Enterprise,” writes about Growing Power, a revolutionary nonprofit urban farm. The essay illustrate how Growing Power embraces Big Picture Design by ensuring that […] Read More

Who Will Change the World: Wal-Mart or Social Entrepreneurs?

Who’s going to save the world — Wal-Mart or the social entrepreneur toiling away with little fanfare? Let’s consider: Wal-Mart, the world’s largest company, sells slightly more than $400 billion a year.  The poorest two-thirds of the planet — people living $4 a day or less — spend about ten times that amount. Each year, […] Read More

Be Encouraged

It’s easy to be discouraged, even cynical, these days.  We’re inching towards defaulting on our national debt.  China is worried we’re acting like a third world country playing financial chicken.  As our government sputters over issues of consequence, the House did just muster the “courage” to pass one bill to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency […] Read More