Social Change 2.0: A Blueprint for Reinventing Our World

Organization: Empowerment Institute
Author: David Gershon

Fast Company — Book Review
Social Change 2.0: A Blueprint for Reinventing Our World
BY FC Expert Blogger Seth Kahan Tue Mar 9, 2010
Social Change 2.0: A Blueprint for Reinventing Our World is a book every visionary must read. Jam-packed with effective reality-tested tools and true-life stories, this new tome by David Gershon provides insights from the front lines. In David’s case the front lines include working with world leaders like Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbechev, and Li Xiannian as well as the millions of people who have participated in his efforts.

Empowerment InstituteThe premise of Social Change 2.0 is people are willing to change if they have a compelling vision and are provided tools to help them bring it into being. David delivers on both fronts. He shows how real, solid visions of the future are built conversation-by-conversation with politicians, activists, corporate leaders and ordinary people.

David started big with the First Earth Run, an 86-day worldwide event and celebration in 1986. Runners carried a torch, encircling the globe. Beginning at the United Nations the flame passed through 62 countries. It was seen first-hand by millions and millions more on TV as it ignited a dream of global unity.

There is much more in the book: rebuilding New York to make it disaster-resilient after 9/11 person-by-person and neighborhood-by-neighborhood, environmentally-friendly lifestyle change in cities across the US and around the world, the transformation of inner city neighborhoods from crime to safety – story after story, success after success – it blows preconceptions of what is possible right out of the water. David’s decades of experience yield so many examples; the reader can’t help but see the efficacy of his approaches, which he documents for wide-spread application, warts and all.

In his real-life accounts, complete with the names of both people and organizations, everyone is beset by overwhelming and conflicting conditions that confuse and pull them in multiple directions. Yet, with a clear intent and hell-bent on his mission, David and his team are always able to create alignment, esprit de corps, and common purpose. It’s not easy and he shows the whole mess.

David lays out the tools of his trade showing design principles, practices, and lessons learned from his extensive experience. Social Change 2.0 is the handbook for the revolution everyone wants in their heart-of-hearts. Fueled by the desire for a better world it provides the practical advice needed to mobilize all sectors and achieve wins across the board. Unlike the 60s, the corporation is not the bad guy, but one of an array of critical players who must work together with nations, citizens, activist groups, politicians, and volunteers of all kinds.

The stories are compelling. The difficulties he faces, from silly bureaucratic hurdles to real-life emergencies, often appear to threaten and unravel each initiative. But, then David shows us how these very challenges are turned to advantage, becoming the basis for personally motivated change. It’s like looking inside a box of miracles and being exposed to the guts of change, which are chaotic, happenstance, and often crushing. Yet, it is these difficult circumstances that Social Change 2.0 builds upon to generate massive, impressive results. If you have a vision and want to know what it takes to turn it into reality, read this book.

For complete information on the book and related efforts visit the home site.

Seth Kahan ( is a Change Leadership specialist. He has consulted with CEOs and executives in over 50 world-class organizations that include Shell, World Bank, Peace Corps, Marriott, Prudential, American Society of Association Executives, International Bridge Tunnel and Turnpike Association, Project Management Institute, and NASA.

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