One of the visions I was “planning backward” from as I wrote this book was that a social sector organization might buy copies for all staff and board members, as advance reading for a retreat. I tried to make the book short enough and readable, but also substantial enough, for that purpose.
The overarching question you might pose is, “What in this book could be useful to us, and how?” But let me suggest some other discussion questions as well; they might all be considered parts of the overarching question.
Introduction and Chapter 1:
1. How would you summarize David’s argument, as previewed in the introduction and presented more fully in Chapter 1? What do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of this argument?
2. The story David tells at the end of Chapter 1 raises questions about the roles of government, business, and the social sector in relation to the concept of social profit. In your experience, what are the unique opportunities each sector has to create social profit, and what constraints does each sector operate under?
Chapters 2, 3 and 4:
1. These three chapters are about mental models, assumptions, and habits that can either help us or hold us back in the pursuit of social profit. What struck you as having the most relevance to your organization, and why?
2. In Chapter 2, David quotes Michael Fullan: “Statistics are a wonderful servant and an appalling master.” What, if anything, comes to mind from your own experience that either supports or refutes this assertion?
3. Do you agree with David’s position that it is possible for a measure to be “accurate enough” to base action upon? If so, what characteristics or processes would make the measure accurate enough?
4. As the book asks on page 26, what are your associations with the word “assessment?” What has been your experience with the word, and how do you feel about assessment? And what difference does that make in your professional/organizational life?
5. How does your organization do in designating and protecting what David calls “mission time?” What else could you do?
Chapters 5 and 6:
1. What has been your experience, if any, with using a rubric as an assessment tool? What were the circumstances, and was the rubric helpful?
2. What has been your experience, if any, with writing a rubric with others? What were the circumstances, and did the rubric end up being helpful to you and to others?
3. Of the advice to rubric-writers David gives in Chapter 6, which section seems to you to be the most important? Why?
Chapters 7, 8, and 9:
1. Of the organizations and rubrics described in these three chapters, which examples are most pertinent for your organization? Why?
2. As you looked at the rubrics in these three chapters, were there places where you wanted the rubric-writers to be more specific? Where, and why?
3. Could you imagine writing a rubric in partnership with another organization, or in a coalition with multiple organizations? What would it be about?
Chapter 10, Afterword and Appendix
1. What is your answer to the question, “what gets in the way of this work?” And whatever your answers, what strategies have you come up with to overcome this obstacle?
2. On page 131, David asks, “If you wanted to define and achieve what matters most to you and eventually build a culture that fostered ongoing learning, what advice would you give to: a) executive directors; b) board members; and c) foundation officers?” What are your responses? Is there anyone else you would give advice to, and what would it be?
3. Metaphors are not exact analogies; they are designed to help us think about something in a different way. What do think are the strengths and weaknesses of Paul Hawken’s metaphor about “antibodies” in relation to the themes of this book?
4. What are your recommendations for the “Foot-Long Bookshelf?” Note you can share your thinking, with a brief commentary, at www.socialprofithandbook.com.
The Essential Guide to Setting Goals, Assessing Outcomes, and Achieving Success for Mission-Driven Organizations