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Getting to Maybe: How the World Is Changed

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  284 ratings  ·  29 reviews
A practical, inspirational, revolutionary guide to social innovation

Many of us have a deep desire to make the world around us a better place. But often our good intentions are undermined by the fear that we are so insignificant in the big scheme of things that nothing we can do will actually help feed the world's hungry, fix the damage of a Hurricane Katrina or even get a
Paperback, 258 pages
Published August 7th 2007 by Vintage Books Canada (first published September 5th 2006)
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3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  284 ratings  ·  29 reviews

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Apr 08, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfiction
The moment you quote Mary Oliver's poem "Wild Geese" and try to act like it's about the momentum of social movements is the moment I stop reading your book and throw it at the bleeping wall.

(This was the last straw of many egregious assaults on poetry.)

(Besides that, I found it trite, redundant, and criminally simplistic.)
Inspiring discussion of social change as force for transformation. I recommend this for all social innovators, visionaries and anyone interested in creating or transitioning change in the world today. Well presented, written and articulated with numerous appropriate examples to encourage and inspire passionate engagement where ever one has juice.
from the notes "While traditional evaluation judges mistakes and unattained objectives as failures, developmental evaluation treats them as learning op
Feb 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great book on social innovation! So many interesting stories from both the private and public sectors. This book sparked insightful conversations on both my personal and professional life.
Kudakwashe Manjonjo
Apr 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book got me dreaming, sombre, critical, hopeful, wondering and focused all at the same time..

And I do think that is what it was going for. Being a social innovator is a different way of living. You live and survive on this undying belief in a certain way of life. Where most people say, “this is not right” as a social innovator you ask what can I do about it.

That is where the beautiful trap is. The trap of a goal to change things but not really knowing exactly how to make it work. And it doe
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A few notes. This book deals with more of the theory and explanation of how social progress takes hold opposed to practical specific advice. Which is completely reasonable in hindsight but I went into it expecting some more practical information. It's also written from a Canadian perspective and many of the examples are Canadian organisations.

I had an incredibly hard time reading this book, my mind kept wandering as I read. But I'm giving it 5 stars because it appears to be a well constructed, w
Nov 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Read for school but really enjoyed. This isn't a particularly difficult read and I was familiar with many of the complexity theory ideas that the authors talked about but I found the overall message of using passion, action and relationships to support social innovation was clear and the examples used contributed to a deeper learning. Developmental evaluation is MQP's thing and I think it was nicely woven in, although I would have liked to see a better explanation of what it really is.
Shashwat Singh
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
The book is alright.
Feb 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a five-star work related read that is deserves the rating for its role in enabling an accessible understanding of complexity, and how we can get to "maybe" on social issues.
Aug 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This may be one of the most enlightening books on social change I have read in a long time. The authors are long time activists and students of what they call "social innovation" which they describe in numerous ways are efforts to bring about significant transformation in commonly established practices. In the preface it says: "this book is for flawed people.... who are not happy with the way things are and would like to make a difference". The preface begins by describing former Czech president ...more
Jan 15, 2017 rated it liked it
After the tumultuous year of 2016, it seems fitting that the first book I finished this year was Getting to Maybe. This is not the first time I have read this book. I read it for a class in my third year of university and I did not understand it at all. How was this book supposed to help people initiate social change? Why was everything described in metaphors? It was too vague, too unconnected to my life. It didn't provide answers, and it didn't inspire me, so I felt it was something of a failur ...more
Many uplifting stories here and much encouragement. Boiled down to less than the sum of its parts the message is this: Social change is hard, but the need for it never ends, so keep trying because change comes from the oddest places, and every helpful action, no matter how small, pushes in a positive direction. If enough snowflakes fall on a branch, it will bend and eventually break (or, not mentioned, the snowflakes will all slide off …).

About reading the origin story of micro lending in Bangla
Alberto Venturini
I was initially drawn to this book by a talk on complexity by Brenda Zimmerman that I watched on YouTube. I was hoping the book would expand on the topics discussed by Dr. Zimmerman, which I found very interesting. The book (co-authored by Zimmerman) does discuss Complexity Theory, but just briefly, in an initial chapter. The rest of the book is composed by a series of chapters that contain recommendations to social innovators and facilitators of social innovation (e.g. policy makers).

I think th
Dec 05, 2013 rated it liked it
With the emphasis on complexity science, parts of this book reminded me of Nate Silver's The Signal and the Noise. There are nuggets of wisdom in this book that I found useful, especially that it's useful to reflect on the underlying "rules" of a given system that give rise to the nature of the phenomena within that system. Other design principles cited are not particularly new, but that doesn't mean that they aren't useful. That said, there's a lot of fluff in this book, and I found that I was ...more
Kwesi Brookins
Sep 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wanna change something important? Read this first.

I love stories and this book provides a framework for engaging in what they call social innovation through the stories of people's successes and failures in trying to do the same. Some people everyone knows, others not. I'm still seeking to determine how this book is applicable to the big problems of racism, for instance, that span local or even national contexts. But I think they authors would say that is probably the wrong way to think about it
Feb 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: systems-thinking
Yet another take on managing change in a complex world, this time from the vantage point of social entrepreneurs and activists. Complexity theory serves as a (metaphorical) background to illuminate and deepen concepts. The book is littered with case studies, the vast majority of them from a North American realm. There are some interesting bits on 'developmental evaluation', a theme that is elaborated in much more detail in Michael Quinn Patton's eponymous book. I'd give it 3,5 stars.
May 30, 2015 rated it liked it
A good companion book to books and reading material on systems theory and complexity theory. Lots of cases sited and examples which can be useful real world references.

You will not learn systems theory or complexity theory by reading this book. It is more about how those theories are used in real world situations.
May 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
I would recommend this book to anybody who has ever wondered why things have to be the way they are and what they can do to make it better. I really enjoyed this book because it wasn't one that sells you false hope about your personal ability to change the world, but rather it provides guidelines an
Nov 03, 2009 rated it it was ok
I think this book would be a lot more valuable for someone who is actually trying to take an innovative non-profit idea off the ground. Otherwise, it presents a lot of interesting ideas in a very lose framework, and I found most of it difficult to retain.
Mar 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Getting to Maybe was a good, inspiring introduction to social innovation. I particularly found the stories used to explain complexity theory useful. It is a good summary and overview of social innovation and systems thinking.
Jul 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
A bit longer than it needed to be, but lots of wonderful examples of how people bring about change by using not-the-usual tactics in highly complex situations where linear, strategic planning just doesn't work. Really enjoyed it, lots of good things to think about.
Dec 07, 2008 rated it it was ok
Bits and pieces of inspiration for the community organizer, non-profit crowd. But structure is poor and the examples become unnecessary after awhile. Would have made a better essay than book.
Brendan Chard
Jan 27, 2016 rated it liked it
An interesting view of the motivations and challenges facing social innovators. Illustrates a great wasy to look at the differences between simple, complicated, and complex risks.
Mar 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favorite all time "pop psych" books. I think about it all the time - also a fabulous introduction to chaos theory.
Jan 07, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: business
Interesting, but only relevant if you're a philanthropist or leading a social welfare non-profit.
Jan 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
People who feel called to change their little piece of the world are always inspiring to me! This book is filled with ideas of things that others can do to help in service to their communities.
April Doner
May 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone i know
rocking my world. deep and sharp and gentle and inspiring.
no time to elaborate.
Jul 20, 2012 rated it liked it
This was ok, ultimately not as empowering or helpful as I hoped. An easy intro to complexity theory and dealing with complex problems for those not familiar with the field.
Dec 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of my all time favorite nonfiction books, I've read it several times. It speaks to my line of work and I find it quite inspirational.
Aug 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book. Very well written, easy to understand and applicable. Inspirational and very, very helpful! Love it! Would recommend that everyone read it.
Margaret Yu
rated it liked it
Jul 14, 2016
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“Allows for imperfection - in yourself and others.” 0 likes
“When an individual behaves in a way that is either too good or too bad it suggests that he has repressed, edited out, or rejected parts of his human nature. Both the bully and the saint have lost a sense of proportion.” 0 likes
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