Bribe vs. Gift.  Wishy-washy vs. flexible.  Blunt vs. Honest.


Above, we see the power of definitions.  Definitions provide meaning for words, and provide the framework for the connotative responses expected when the terms are used.  Without good definitions, the barriers to understanding get stronger, and language fails as a facilitator of communication.  Definitions are important to consistent understanding.


I was asked to blog about the whether it’s important to have one definition for Social Entrepreneurship.  Based on my above introduction on the important definitions, I would say that it is important to have a single definition for Social Entrepreneurship.  But quite honestly, I think we need to call it something different.  If we break down “Social” and “Entrepreneurship” in our humanity based context, we should be able to get an accurate depiction of what the phrase means.  “Social” being something related to society, especially in helping society or alleviating socially recognized problems.  “Entrepreneurship” meaning the creation and early management of a new organization (be it a business or other organization.)  If “Social Entrepreneurship” doesn’t mean “the creation and early management of an organization founded for the purpose of completing socially based goals,” then we should stop worrying about trying to fix our definitions of a broken term and use new ones.


Part of the confusion with all the terms is the fact that they overlap, and often don’t do a good job describing the ideas behind them.  Although I am not overly confident at the ability of a small class to completely overhaul the lingo and jargon of a societal construct, one group’s inability to fix a problem doesn’t mean that there is no problem.  As long as our terms create more barriers to understanding than they destroy, the movement currently encompassed by the terms “Social Entrepreneurship” and “Social Innovation” will remain incapable at reaching critical mass among its target population.


If all we mean is “Social Impact,” let’s call it that.  If that phrase doesn’t work, let’s call it something that does.  Let’s not try to nail down one definition to an increasingly unrelated phrase.


After all, we don’t refer to “Tennis” as “Baseball-but-also-with-a-net-and-rackets.”