Neil Tambe

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I'm a Detroiter who happens to enjoy writing, national parks, orange juice, the performing arts, and fanciful socks. More than anything though, I aspire to be a good husband, father, and citizen.

How "core" must social intrapreneurship be?

I came across this article today from Bill Eggers of Deloitte. The article gives several examples which suggest that true social innovation / intrapreneurship occurs when a business adapts one of its core activities to provide social good. This is in stark contrast to traditional CSR which takes ancillary activities or resources and directs them for social good. For example, a core activity is Wal-Mart greening its supply chain. A periphery activity would be Wal-Mart employees mobilizing a company-wide clothing drive to make donations to local charities. See how one is part of regular operations and one is a supplemental activity?

I kind of think that the sort of change we should be after needs to be as close to the "core" business as possible. So that a business is simultaneously creating economic and social value...rather than creating economic value, feeling guilty, and then doing something social to make up for it.

I don't see a moral distinction, and I think it's cool if business wants to make an impact by having its employees volunteer or donate stuff. And, for what it's worth, skills-based volunteerism seems to be somewhat "core" because of the learning gains employees receive.

It just seems like the non-core scenario, where a business directs ancillary activities and resources, is a lot of work. If you have a core activity (that's profitable) contribute to social good that might be harder to think up, but must easier to sustain indefinitely.

Please do say hello: neil.tambe[at]gmail[dot]com