Compassion or Domain Expertise ?

This post, like many others, has been long overdue. I faced the question at many forums where I was discussing. Last December, I was at a conference on Social Entrepreneurship in Chennai and I heard Anshu Gupta of Goonj speak informally to a group of participants gathered around him. He repeatedly emphasised the importance "just doing it". He said a lot of us just keep waiting for that perfect moment when we can make the plunge and advised those listening to him against over-planning. Over-planning, he said, kills a lot of unproven ideas and is also, many a times, an obstacle to initiate. There was a lot of talk about various financing and exit options at the conference and in that context he also told us that if you have the passion, venture capitalists will just follow. I thought about what he said and wanted to write my opinions but...(procrastination!).

A few weeks ago a similar topic arose during a class for a course that I attend at CSIM. A senior participant voiced his opinion that many of the youngsters today are charged up to do "something" and go full steam into opening an NGO or joining an NGO without understanding the social sector. This results in half-baked or misled efforts and may also leave the person disillusioned with the dynamics of the sector.

So what do you think? Is success in social development sector all about compassion or does it also depend on actual hardcore knowledge and processes?

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