“The voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tacks.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Every entrepreneur needs to pursue his own course as he forms, shapes, and manages the implementation of his ideas. Every entrepreneur – social or traditional – has his own management style, his own vision and mission, his own means for raising and maintaining capital. And even the “best” entrepreneur, just as Emerson’s quotation suggests, must reshape both his methods and his destination after he sets sail.
As fatuous as suggesting every entrepreneur is the same might be, it would be equally ridiculous to claim they are all different. Every entrepreneur may have a different vision, a unique mission, and a new way for meeting his goals, but they each have a strong vision, a powerful mission, and well-devised methods.
This was Bill Drayton’s premise when he developed his four-criteria evaluation for social entrepreneurs. Every entrepreneur supported by Ashoka must meet strict standards for:
1) creativity (in both problem-solving and goal-setting),
2) entrepreneurial quality,
3) social impact of their idea (in depth and breadth), and,
4) ethical fiber.
“If you were in a dangerous situation,” Drayton explained his moral expectations of Fellows to evaluation panelists, “would you be totally at ease if this person was with you?”
Though Ashoka is deeply concerned with the overall impact of social ideas and the ability of social entrepreneurs to use original thinking, Drayton explained that entrepreneurial quality is the foremost measure of social entrepreneurs. Recruits have to be realistic, free from ideologies and mental frameworks. They need to be able to answer the difficult “how-to” questions; they need to prove they have worked through scenarios and thought in depth about their work.
In short, can recruits prove they have made their idea their passion? “Entrepreneurs have in their heads the vision of how society will be different when their idea is at work, and they can’t stop until that idea is not only at work in one place, but is at work across the whole society.” “Are they possessed, really possessed by an idea?” Drayton asked.
Call it, “OCD entrepreneurship.”