A Visual Approach for Developing Social Enterprises

November 17, 2020

Some years ago I had the honor to meet Muhammad Yunus, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his social enterprise the Grameen Bank. In the workshop organized by Social Business Earth, the Business Model Canvas was used to brainstorm and ideate social businesses. A visual template! And not really a fitting one for ideating…

Since studying the effectiveness of templates for business purposes is my research area, I talked to Prof. Yunus and asked what he thought of utilizing specific visuals for facilitating the process of creating and growing a social business. He encouraged me to carry on with the idea, and here we are few years later… with the framework developed and utilized for MBA courses on social entrepreneurship, and finally, published!

In our article you can find lots of examples of visual techniques to be used not only for ideating a social innovation, but also for acquiring resources, scaling the social impact and monitoring the impact! The framework can also be used as a teaching guide for courses and workshops in social entrepreneurship.

Reference: Bresciani S, Eppler M.J. (2020). A Visual Approach for Developing Social Enterprises. Multidisciplinary Business Review, 13 (2), 91-104. ISSN 0718-400X, DOI: https://doi.org/10.35692/07183992.13.2.7


The emerging interest in social entrepreneurship is challenged in practice by the complexity of balancing economic and social aspects, and by the difficulties of getting the public to understand the very concept of social enterprising. How can we support social entrepreneurs in developing and growing their organizations? The cognitive advantages of thinking and working visually are well established in the literature, but not yet applied to guide the entire social enterprising process. Mapping and communicating ideas visually can provide several benefits, not only in the ideation phase, but also for managing, optimizing, and growing a social enterprise. We present a framework with visual formats that can be utilized by social entrepreneurs in each specific phase of the social enterprise development: (1) idea generation, (2) social enterprise model refinement, (3) idea promotion and resources acquisition, (4) planning, (5) sales and instructions, (6) scaling impact, and (7) measuring and monitoring. At a theoretical level, the framework aims to structure and summarize the benefits of visual representations of knowledge for the field of social entrepreneurship. This visual approach has practical applications for social entrepreneurs who can utilize it as an overarching tool, for an informed selection and use of visualizations to support the development of their social ventures.
Keywords: Social entrepreneurship, visualization, visual maps, social business, canvas, visual techniques, Peru.

El interés emergente por el emprendimiento social se ve desafiado en la práctica por la complejidad de equilibrar los aspectos económicos y sociales, y por las dificultades para lograr que el público comprenda el concepto mismo de emprendimiento social. ¿Cómo podemos ayudar a los emprendedores sociales a desarrollar y hacer crecer sus organizaciones? Las ventajas cognitivas de pensar y trabajar visualmente están bien establecidas en la literatura, pero aún no se aplican para guiar todo el proceso emprendedor social. El mapeo y la comunicación de ideas visualmente pueden proporcionar varios beneficios no solo en la fase de ideación, sino también para administrar, optimizar y hacer crecer una empresa social. Presentamos un marco con formatos visuales que pueden ser utilizados por emprendedores sociales en cada fase específica del desarrollo de la empresa social: (1) generación de ideas, (2) refinamiento del modelo de empresa social, (3) promoción de ideas y adquisición de recursos, (4) planificación, (5) ventas e instrucciones, (6) ampliación del impacto y (7) medición y seguimiento. A nivel teórico, el marco tiene como objetivo estructurar y resumir los beneficios de las representaciones visuales del conocimiento para el campo del emprendimiento social. Este enfoque visual tiene aplicaciones prácticas para los emprendedores sociales que pueden utilizarlo como una herramienta general, para una selección informada y el uso de visualizaciones para apoyar el desarrollo de sus empresas sociales.
Palabras clave: emprendimiento social, visualización, mapas visuales, social business, modelo visual, Perù

A Design Thinking Approach for Designing Careers

November 16, 2020

We are very glad that the results of our ongoing research on Life Design have been accepted for presentation at the Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2020

Departing from traditional one-on-one coaching sessions, we investigate the effectiveness of a collaborative life design method based on Design thinking and conducted in large groups. Through a quasi-experiment we find that participants who attended the life design workshop significantly increased their Positive Psychological Capital (specifically self-efficacy, resilience and hope), their self-esteem and the presence of meaning in life. The qualitative data analysis revealed that the intervention allowed students to broaden their sight on life, discover authenticity by reframing their measures of success.

Watch the video fro more details, and feel free to get in contact if you are interested!

Reference: Bresciani, S. & Kernbach, S. (2020). A Design Thinking Approach for Designing Careers: Finding Authenticity and Increasing Self-Efficacy. Academy of Management Annual Meeting (AOM), 7-10 August 2020.

Where to find datasets to visualize

April 15, 2020

The University of Berkley Advanced Media Institute has curated a list of databases of statistical information where we can find a wealth of data to be visualized!



COVID19: death mortality rate is much higher in Italy compared to China

March 20, 2020

Italy has the same number of deaths as China but with less than half of the total number of (identified) cases: is the mortality higher in Italy, or are less tests conducted and thus fewer COVID19 positive people identified?

covid as of 19 march

Virtual group projects: free tools for visually facilitating meetings and projects

March 18, 2020

Visual facilitation for health-related interpersonal communication

November 8, 2019

At the European Conference on Health Communication (ECHC 2019) which will take place in Zurich on November 13-15th 2019, I will be presenting an exploratory study on the use of visual templates for supporting discussions in self-help mutual aid groups of parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The template is freely available with Creative Commons license. The observations and results of the study are discussed in the online Prezi presentation.



“Communication Blended Courses” SGKM-SACM presentation

April 3, 2019


Le immagini per la comunicazione interculturale

December 10, 2018

Per il progetto #ON THE SIDE ho preparato una lezione su come utilizzare le immagini per comunicare con persone di diverse culture.

A questo link potrete trovare le presentazione interattiva (Prezi)

le immagini per la comunicazione interculturale

Video-presentation “Education and Culture Affect Visualization’s Effectiveness for Health Communication”

July 9, 2018


Click on the image to view the video.

Reference: Bresciani, S., Arora, P. & Kernbach, S. (2018). Education and Culture Affect Visualization’s Effectiveness for Health Communication. 22 International Conference Information Visualisation (IV18), 10 – 13 July 2018, Salerno, Italy.

R&D Conference presentation: Key Dimensions of Visual Design Thinking

June 29, 2018

rnd conference bresciani key dimensions of visual design thinking

Bresciani, S. & Eppler M.J. (2018) Key Dimensions of Visual Design Thinking: An Application to the Social Innovation Context. R&D Management conference, Milan, July 2-4 2018.

The Prezi presentation is available here

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