200-page Book of Invisible Hand with Visible Heart
Edinburgh serves as a microcosm of the social enterprise universe. One of the best ways to learn what’s going on in the social enterprise sector is to explore people’s individual stories. As the opening lines of The Tudors declares, “You think you know a story but you only know how it ends. To get to the heart of a story you have to go back to the beginning.”
I have been planning the book since January 2018 and have conducted over 15 in-depth, one-to-one interviews (each between 60-90 minutes with transcriptions totalling about 130,000 words) and site visits with social entrepreneurs who shared their genuine insights and first-hand, personal experience. The enterprises surveyed range from those newly established in 2018 to others who have been serving their communities for thirty years. Each story contained in this book is unique but also representative of the broader circumstances, advantages, and challenges that social enterprises everywhere face. Academic papers, industry reports, government data, online news and so forth serve as the secondary source of information in the book.
What does the book title mean?
Invisible Hand with Visible Heart, comes from two works by Adam Smith. While most people are more familiar with his magnum opus, The Wealth of Nations, he took more pride in another of his books, The Theory of Moral Sentiments. The term “invisible hand” is a concept from Smith’s former title, on markets, self-interest, and passion. The other term, “visible heart,” comes from the latter and its commentary on social impact, altruism, and compassion. Therefore, Adam Smith could be seen as the first advocate for social enterprise. Social enterprise is where the invisible hand holds the visible heart—where purpose meets profit and gives money meaning.
While the hand is more about the “how” and its effect revealed in outcomes, the heart is more about the “why,” which is more difficult to see and requires vision to picture its impact in the long-term. There is a danger of “out of sight, out of mind” if the heart is not visible enough. For this reason, we need to make the heart visible by communicating our purpose and awakening “the better angels of our nature” among a wider audience.
What will this book contain?
This 200-page book focuses on specific stories and case studies chosen intentionally in order to strike a balance between quantitative data and a broader picture of the social enterprise ecosystem.
In Chapter 1, readers will find stories that illustrate social enterprises just embarking on their journey—and where they found their inspiration and how they applied their imagination. Among them are Positive Prison, the Edinburgh Tool Library, Storyworlds Life, and the State.
In Chapter 2, we move on to social enterprises in the midst of their journeys and facing the inherent delight, dilemmas, and difficulties of the process. Readers will meet Breadshare, Grow Your Own Talent, Social Investment Scotland, and MHScot Workplace Wellbing.
In Chapter 3, readers discover established social enterprises that are looking at succession plans and scaling up their operations. Featured organisations include Crossing Countries, Grassmarket Community Project, McSence, and Edinburgh Community Yoga.
In Chapter 4, readers will discover the layout of the social enterprise ecosystem in Scotland and how the infrastructure currently in place makes Scotland the most supportive environment in the world for social enterprise.
In Chapter 5, we will look at what’s next for the third sector, and how the best way to predict the future is to create it.
An appendix is also provided with references, useful links, and recommended reading for further learning.
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