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The Solution Revolution: How Business, Government, and Social Enterprises Are Teaming Up to Solve Society's Toughest Problems Hardcover – September 17, 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (September 17, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1422192199
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422192191
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #85,359 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Executives Eggers and Macmillan set out to explain the multitrillion dollar “solution economy,” which is arising as governments partner with the private sector (citizens, businesses, entrepreneurs, and foundations) to address society’s urgent and deep-seated problems locally and worldwide. This new approach replaces the historic government-dominated model for solving entrenched problems in fields including health care, poverty, education, housing, and recycling. The public-private partnerships are possible because of technology and access to funding, collaborating tools for citizens to work together on challenging issues, and corporate awareness that enables its leaders to devote resources to addressing society’s pressing problems. The authors cite many new players in the societal problem-solving arena during the last 10 years, including Acumen, Ashoka, Kiva, and Zipcar. The authors conclude that a brighter future is ours “if we are savvy enough to grasp it.” Loaded with important information for a wide range of library patrons. --Mary Whaley


“…pulsating with fresh ideas about civic and business and philanthropic engagement…the breadth of examples is impressive and global.” — The Wall Street Journal

“Eggers and Macmillan’s work succeeds…as a guide to new opportunities to profit from ‘socially impactful’ activities once thought unprofitable.” — Financial Times

“Another good read, The Solution Revolution explores how business, government, philanthropy and social enterprise are converging to solve big problems and create public value...the innovations Eggers and Macmillan outline, and the possibilities they imagine, are fascinating and tantalizing.” — The Washington Post

The Solution Revolution is an excellent primer for anyone interested in joining the ranks of the social sector…Very few authors and researchers have provided such a comprehensive view of the social sector…” — Policy Perspectives (

“This book looks at how business, government, and social enterprises are teaming up to solve society's toughest problems. “It’s the best book out there on mobilising communities to solve wicked problems,” says Peter Williams from audit and consulting firm Deloitte.” — Sydney Morning Herald, Summer Reading List, Tech Knowledge

“… a fascinating preview of our economic future, a system where choice, sustainability, and more adaptive ecosystems offer all of us the ability to collaborate towards better solutions.” — USA Book News

“… a pick for social issues and business collections alike. Business collections will find this a specific, inspirational guide!” — Midwest Book Review

“For a book devoted to seemingly intractable problems, it has a very hopeful message.” — BizEd magazine

“A thought-provoking book on how changes have given rise to new issues and challenges and how important it is for society to think beyond self.” — The Star

“an energetic study” and saying, “These stories along with substantive advice for individuals and governments alike present a persuasive argument that the future of global change rests squarely in the hands of ordinary citizens.” — Publishers Weekly

“… worth reading because it is vital to comprehend how, to an astonishing extent, this convergence is already changing the world.” — Vancouver Sun

“If you’re looking for an optimistic read, The Solution Revolution: How Business, Government, and Social Enterprises Are Teaming Up to Solve Society’s Toughest Problems is a perfect choice…This is high-energy, high-level thinking being put into on-the-ground practice to see what comes of it.” — Associations Now (ASAE: American Society of Association Executives)

The Solution Revolution shows how entrepreneurs all over the world are stepping forward to innovate for the public good.” — T+D magazine (American Society for Training & Development)

The Solution Revolution provides a useful and thought-provoking method map, examples, and inspiration for this journey.” — Research-Technology Management

ADVANCE PRAISE for The Solution Revolution:

Walter Isaacson, President and CEO, Aspen Institute; author, Steve Jobs
“Citizens and businesses are creating a ‘solution economy’ that blends market forces and altruism to get good things done . . . Watch out. This book may inspire you to join the revolution!”

Peter H. Diamandis, Chairman and CEO, XPRIZE Foundation; Chairman, Singularity University; coauthor, Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think
“Today the world’s biggest problems are the world’s biggest market opportunities. Want to become a billionaire? Solve a billion-person problem. The Solution Revolution shows you how.”

Jennifer Pahlka, Deputy US CTO; founder and Executive Director, Code for America—
The Solution Revolution explores how the intersections of the sectors can unlock the potential we’ll need to face the realities of the twenty-first century.”

John Mackey, co-CEO and cofounder, Whole Foods Market; coauthor, Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business
The Solution Revolution is a wise reminder that global problems shouldn’t be left to government alone to solve . . . Read this book and join today’s ‘solution economy.’”

The Right Honourable Paul Martin, former Prime Minister of Canada—
“With a global population approaching nine billion and governments so indebted that their only answer is to beggar succeeding generations, the current path is clearly unsustainable. Eggers and Macmillan seek a better way.”

Geoff Mulgan, CEO, Nesta; author, The Locust and the Bee: Predators and Creators in Capitalism’s Future
“Eggers and Macmillan vividly describe creative solutions that break the boundaries between the public and private sectors and civil society.”

Rachel Botsman, coauthor, What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption
“Read this book if you want to understand how the ‘solution revolution’ will create a trillion-dollar market for social good by unlocking the value of underutilized resources in ways and on a scale never possible before.”

More About the Author

William (Bill) Eggers is one of the country's best known authorities on government reform. An author, columnist, and popular speaker for two decades, he has built a significant following among public sector thought leaders in the U.S., Canada and overseas. Eggers has advised dozens of cities, states and foreign countries and trained hundreds of public officials on government restructuring. He is a sought after speaker, giving close to 100 speeches each year. His upcoming book will be published by Harvard Business Press in the fall of 2009.
Currently as the global director for Deloitte Research and executive director of Deloitte's Public Leadership Institute, he is responsible for research and thought leadership for Deloitte's Public Sector practice.
Eggers is a former appointee to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget's Performance Measurement Advisory Commission and the former Project Director for the Texas Performance Review/e-Texas initiative. He was involved in two performance reviews, in which he identified over $2.5 billion worth of savings and non-tax revenues for the state. More than 60 percent of the recommendations in the reviews were enacted into law. Eggers also served as a Commissioner for the Texas Incentive and Productivity Commission and a designee on the Texas Council on Competitive Government.
Eggers is a former senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research and the former director of Government Reform at the Reason Public Policy Institute. Prior to joining the Reason Foundation, Eggers assisted reformers in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union with the transition to market economies. Eggers graduated magna cum laude from the University of California at San Diego.
Eggers is the 1996 winner of the prestigious Roe Award for leadership and innovation in public policy research. He also received the 2002 APEX award for excellence in business journalism.
Eggers' book "Governing by Network" was the winner of the National Academy of Public Administration's 2005 Louis Brownlow Award for best book on public management. In addition, his book "Revolution at the Roots" won the 1996 Sir Anthony Fisher Award for the book "making the greatest contribution to the understanding of the free economy during the past two years."
He coined the terms "Government 2.0" and (with co-author Stephen Goldsmith) "Governing by Network" in his 2005 and 2006 books of the same names.
Eggers is the author of numerous books on government reform including:
* The Public Innovator's Playbook: Nurturing Bold Ideas in Government (Deloitte Research 2009)
* States of Transition: Tackling Government's Toughest Policy and Management Challenges (Deloitte Research, 2006)
* Government 2.0: Using Technology to Improve Education, Cut Red Tape, Reduce Gridlock and Enhance Democracy (Rowman and Littlefield, 2005)
* Governing by Network: The New Shape of the Public Sector (Brookings, 2004 with Stephen Goldsmith)
* Revolution at the Roots: Making our Government Smaller, Better and Closer to Home (The Free Press, 1995 with John O'Leary)
Eggers' commentary has also appeared in dozens of major media outlets including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, San Francisco Chronicle and Orange County Register. His upcoming book on how governments can improve their ability to do get big things done will be published in 2009.

Customer Reviews

Overall what a great book and well written.
Mr and Mrs Michael Alexander
There are a lot of really exciting things going on in this regard, and reading this book makes me excited about what is to come.
Clint Walker
This book opened my eyes to the amazing things that are happening today in our world - things you do not see too often on TV.
Paulo Leite

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As I indicate in my review of another book, Gary Klein's Seeing What Others Don't: The Remarkable Ways We Gain Insights, I realized long ago that the true value of most (if not all) breakthrough insights is best determined by the nature and extent of the disruptive impact they have on the given status quo. That has certainly proven true of analytics, cloud computing, mobile phones, and social media. As William Eggers and Paul Macmillan observe, "The defining feature of Western-style government -- its success in catering to a wide variety of citizen needs -- has become its greatest liability. Governments are going broke while contorting themselves into ever-stranger positions to satisfy often contradictory constituent demands." In the United States, that is true of many municipalities, counties, and even states in which legitimate citizen needs far exceed the resources available to meet therm. "Fortunately, government is no longer the only game in town when it comes to societal problem solving. Society is witnessing a step change in how it deals with its own problems -- a shift from a government-dominated model to one in which the government is just one player among many."

I agree with Eggers and Macmillan that a new economy -- what they characterize as "the solution economy" -- is emerging and it trades in social outcomes. Its currencies include public data, reputation, credibility, and social impact. "The business models are unusual, and the motivations range from new notions of public accountability to moral obligation to even shareholder value.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Anthony Ressler on September 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I just got finished reading the Solution Revolution and really enjoyed the read. It provides a compelling journey through the power of new approaches and technologies to solving public problems.

Whether you are a political appointee, government leader, or civic entrepreneur, I highly recommend you give it a read as it provides both compelling case studies as well as a roadmap to leverage these new approaches.

As a social entrepreneur myself (worked in government as well as founding a non-profit and a for-profit targeted government problems), I believe 100% in Eggers vision that we need business, government, and social enterprises to team up together to solve these huge problems.

I hope we'll see even more of this thinking in the future.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Michael Pentland on September 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The Solution Revolution is an informative, well-written and topical synthesis of the solution economy as it is unfolding around us. My colleagues create a compelling view of the innovative ways people are tackling tough social problems.

I was particularly interested in how it might relate to the non-profit sector. For centuries, unmet social needs have elicited action and non-profits have long been at the forefront of these efforts. Non-profits have leveraged the motivation of their people, collaborative partnerships, and committed volunteers to make a meaningful impact. The Solution Revolution describes new approaches to address or even eradicate chronic social problems through innovative markets, economic ecosystems and collaborative cross-sectoral networks. These new approaches purposefully blur siloed thinking and encourage innovative models of teaming, create environments that harness market forces, and leverage new technologies (like social, mobile, cloud, and analytics) that change the game further. What might the `Solution Revolution' imply for non-profits?

The Solution Revolution dynamic is real, growing and evolving at an accelerating pace. This may be exciting to many non-profits that see opportunities for new sources of funding, for increased ability to scale, for increased relevance, and, most importantly, to contribute to even greater social impact. This new reality may be equally threatening to many non-profits. While wildly diverse, the majority of non-profits tend to be small, with limited capacity, and many have overlapping focus. Not all may survive.

This Solution Revolution needs to profit from the strengths and attributes of non-profits. Non-profits have an important role in the broader ecosystem that should not be underestimated.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Paul Lappen VINE VOICE on September 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Government, by itself, can no longer fix all of society's problems. Perhaps it is time for a partnership between government, business and new organizations that that are shrinking the gap between what citizens need and what government can provide.

Does your town have a rather dismal home recycling rate? Instead of spending tax money on a recycling PR campaign, visit a site called Recyclebank. They have helped towns to double or triple their recycling rate in just a few months. Is downtown clogged with traffic? Instead of imposing some sort of downtown driving fee, consider a car-sharing service like ZipCar.

It is now possible to mobilize huge amounts of resources around societal problems, while the costs plummet. In this new solution economy, the exchange and creation of value (currencies) are happening in new ways. The new currency could be data, credits, reputation or social outcomes (like reduced sickness). There are also new ways to trade these new currencies. They range from prizes and challenges, to crowdfunding platforms, to two-sided markets (with no middleman), to arrangements that pay for success. Can the same system work for international issues, like human trafficking or providing inexpensive housing for India's poor?

How can government or business help to bring about a solution economy? Government can use their purchasing power to create demand, be open to other avenues to reach a desired outcome, open up public data, avoid over-regulating the solution economy and recognize social enterprises as a new kind of business. Business can help by looking at their operating procedures against social criteria, make a bold commitment, change their sourcing practices, and find a way to leverage that open data.

This is a really interesting book.
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