Category Archives: Service

Frugal innovation – a teachable moment

I guess we are at an age when all our teeth are not our own and, as sometime happens in those cases, minor emergencies like a loose crown can befall you at the most unlikely times and places. Friday at lunch on campus at IIT Bombay, I suddenly realized one of the crowns had loosened. Being away from home in US, and the weekend approaching, I called our family dentist in Mumbai and was informed by the receptionist that “Saab Monday ayega wapas (sir will come back Monday)”.

Mildly upset that I would have to walk around with an exposed nerve and a crown that I might likely loose, I griped to one of my colleagues. She suggested that I look up a new dental chain, Sabka  Dentist, to see if they might have a local office that could attend to my tooth. I pulled up their site on my phone and fortunately there was an office just outside the IIT gates. I called them and a cheerful receptionist answered. Yes, I could walk-in right now she assured me, and they would see what could be done. Continue reading

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Some reflections on Martin Luther King and non-profit leadership

Yesterday I had the opportunity to volunteer with a group at the Greater Boston Food Bank. After spending some time on the production line, and given the past weekend celebrating Martin Luther King, the group was asked to reflect on what Martin Luther King might have done in light of what we had seen and experienced, at the Greater Boston Food Bank as well as the larger set of social issues that we are exposed to in our daily lives. Continue reading

Responding to Clayton Christensen’s article on Government’s potential role in Social Innovation

My recent post on Clayton Christensen’s article on Social Innovation resulted in several comments and responses questioning the appropriate role of the government in fostering social innovation. I do believe there is a role for government to play in encouraging growth in this sector. I believe the Office of Social Innovation is a well intentioned attempt by Obama of putting Social Innovation on the nation’s agenda. I also believe that the government should try to be a transparent facilitator where needed and then get out of the way and let the market work its way.

The single most critical issue for a young, startup social entrepreneur is the lack of a well structured ecosystem to encourage social innovation. This is where the government can play a significant role. Some of the things it can do are to: Continue reading

A new era of service by Barack Obama

I am reproducing the entire text of an editorial by President Barack Obama that appeared on TIME Magazine’s website today.

It was a precursor to the news later in the day that one of the two pieces of Service based legislation – the GIVE Act – was passed with a strong bi-partisan majority of 321 to 105 in the House. The senate version of the bill – the Kennedy/Hatch Serve America Act – is awaiting final approval. If the two bills are finally reconciled and passed, they will, according to the New York Times, “be [the] largest expansion of government-sponsored service programs since President John F. Kennedy first called for the creation of a national community service corps in 1963.”

This is indeed a new era of Service

Continue reading

An opportunity of a lifetime

An interesting side effect of the global recession on graduating college students – more are considering taking time to get engaged in public service. A recent article in the Boston Globe observes

Instead of going straight into a 100-hour-a-week job at an investment bank, they are pursuing less lucrative but potentially more satisfying opportunities in public service, enrolling in record numbers in the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, and Teach for America.

In that article Harvard President, Drew Gilpin Faust observed.
“The path to Wall Street was so clearly defined, so if you weren’t sure what direction to go, this direction was filled with signposts and rewards,” Faust said in an interview. “But we are seeing two historic moments converge: this extraordinary financial crisis and this outpouring of interest in the public sphere.”

Faust said she hopes to tap alumni connections and join with other colleges to set up a recruitment process for public service that mirrors the way the corporate world woos students.

Sasha Dichter of the Acumen Fund ruminates in in his blog post The Other 690 : Continue reading