The Two Pillars

Every organization have pillars that hold up its roof and keep it successful and thriving in an ever-changing world. Ashoka has two such pillars carefully designed to ensure its strength and vitality
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Every organization has to know the few essentials they must always protect if they are to succeed, indeed, to survive. These are the pillars that hold up the roof.

Ashoka has two such pillars carefully designed to ensure their strength and vitality:


Fellow Election Criteria and Process

Ashoka is defined by the fact that, everywhere and over time, those who are elected “Ashoka Fellows”

  1. define the field;
  2. change the world;
  3. recognize one another as fellow spirits and valued peer partners; and
  4. have exceptional ethical fiber and are trusted. Their extraordinary impacts bear witness. (For example, three-quarters change national and/or international policy in their fields.)

This quality also is what allows the Ashoka community to know when a need is ripe, to adopt the purpose it defines, and then to spot the pattern among the Fellows’ solutions that will best serve that purpose.This is what underlies Ashoka’s second dimension, thinking and entrepreneuring together. Very much including the “everyone a changemaker” (EACH) Purpose teams and work.

The Fellows are also 80 percent of those in Ashoka’s core network. Their power, fit, and engagement on all dimensions are central to Ashoka’s network effect --- both inside our community and for our ability to move Big Change.

For these and other reasons, Ashoka developed a system that reliably elects only those who meet its carefully defined criteria. (See “Selecting Leading Social Entrepreneurs”).

This is a five-step process with different people at each step. It is sharply focused on the selection criteria. Each individual involved at each step must make the personal judgment that a candidate meets the criteria.


One Global Operational Unity

Ashoka’s objectives require it to be one united organization globally. There are many reasons. Here are a few:

  • A sustained, uniformly excellent Fellow selection process requires global elements.
  • Much of the value of the Fellowship for Fellows (and of the broader community for all its members) turns on Ashoka being global.
  • Achieving important global frame change requires Ashoka to be able to map, design, and flexibly organize globally.
  • Every new Purpose collaboration (e.g., children mastering conscious empathy, the first step of “the new literacy”, or climate) must be global at each step.
  • The EACH movement is global.
  • There are key economies of scale and recognition for many of Ashoka’s building block programs, ranging from Your Kids to Youth Venture.
  • A core Ashoka value is helping the world to unite.

For these and more reasons, Ashoka has always been and is committed to being a global operational unity. This is not easy. Very, very few citizen groups are much more than a shared name. Ashoka studied the few successes.

Ashoka succeeded -- but must remain vigilant. It has, for example, (1) one planning and budget system, (2) one human management system, and (3) a legal structure everywhere that ensures global leadership.