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Taking Charge of Change

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Taking Charge of Change

How Rebuilders Solve Hard Problems

HarperCollins Leadership,

15 min read
9 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Rebuilders are the leaders your organization needs to implement sweeping, equitable change.

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  • Overview
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Who are rebuilders? According to author and social change expert Paul Shoemaker, they are leaders who effectively address the socioeconomic problems and system shortfalls that beleaguer an increasingly divided United States. He identifies five abilities these leaders need to navigate these challenges: bring people together, embrace change and ambiguity, interpret and apply data, manage crises, and forge new paths for progress. Shoemaker shows how, in a time of upheaval and uncertainty, rebuilders can bring about positive change in a variety of industries and for a range of causes.


Leaders must deal with five mega-challenges facing American society.

The first mega-challenge confronting the United States is the dual issue of unequal access to technology and the amplifying effect of modern media. Second is the devastation wrought by COVID-19. The third is the movement of people’s belief systems away from the center and toward the extremes, a trend which makes it difficult for many people to empathize and connect. The fourth challenge is today’s slow, uneven progress in meeting the nation’s social, health and economic needs. The fifth is the rapid toppling of previously accepted customs and standards.

The state of the United States’ infrastructure is analogous to the state of its challenged social, economic and healthcare systems. These mega-challenges came to the fore in the wave of clarity and social awareness that followed a police officer’s murder of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis. The killing was an inflection point in American history. This turning point offers an opportunity to shed old ways that no longer serve society and to forge new paths.

Many Americans’ social ...

About the Author

Paul Shoemaker is the founding president of Social Venture Partners International. The author of Can’t Not Do, he is a social change consultant to major corporations.

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