Muhammad Yunus and Imagineering

21 October 2014 By Bill Jarrard

Muhammad Yunus
Muhammad Yunus

One the many benefits of being part of the Leadership Victoria family of alumni, partners, program participants, staff and other stakeholders is you get to hear about the wonderful events focused on leadership, and often you get to go ‘behind the scenes’.

And it was just such an event this last weekend when I, along with other Williamson Community Leadership Program (WCLP) alumni, went to a very special lecture by Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank and a numbers of innovative social businesses.

I’ve talked about Grameen Bank in many of my presentations over the last 10 years as a great example of innovation, particularly social innovation, so I was delighted to hear that there was so much more to the story, and the success Prof Yunus has helped create.

In listening to his story, so many things came through, such as…


  • His personal epiphany on academic economics vs real world economics
  • The impact even a small personal contribution can make when done thoughtfully
  • The barriers of traditional systems and thinking that shut down innovation and progress
  • How doing exactly the opposite of others can create a whole new business model that just works
  • How the focus on who you lend to and why, is far more important than traditional lending criteria
  • How putting ‘social criteria’ on lending can slowly, but significantly change mindsets and entire communities and cultures
  • That when you challenge traditional systems and thinking, there are many who will want to bring you down
  • That ‘getting a job’ after getting a good education is just traditional thinking, in a broken system that is no longer able to deal with current challenges
  • That rather than being a job seeker or taker, we could try becoming job giversAnd how one social impact can start a ripple effect of compounding social impacts that literally light up the world.


In upcoming Thought Starters I want to talk more about some of these lessons from Prof Yunus, and how they reflect similar stories from many other people I’ve met and worked with.  I have constantly been amazed at how these people have inspired and empowered others to take action on what they imagine the world could be, rather than simply accepting systems and thinking that is no longer sufficient.

These true imagineers have inspired for more than 25 years now, and I guess that’s why I still have so much fun doing what I do.

“Those who say it cannot be done, should get out the way of those who are doing it.” 
-Joel Barker, Futurist

Ask yourself: have you and/or your organization stifled innovation, growth, change and success with traditional thinking in a system that is no longer enough, or are you turning things upside down by visualizing a whole new way of doing things, and then taking action to make it a reality?

-Bill Jarrard

As Leadership Victoria’s resident Imagineer, Bill Jarrard (WCLP '90) helps people and organisations Imagine the future they wish to achieve and then engineer it into reality. Bill focuses on people, leadership, and organisational development, with a particular passion for continuous improvement, creative thinking, and applied innovation.

Bill designs and delivers our new Creative Leadership Series of programs, including Thinking Strategically - Imagineering Your Organisation on 13 November. Limited places so register now!

Thinking Strategically - Imagineering Your Organisation: 13 November
All successful people are big dreamers, who work every day to achieve their distant goals

More information    Register here   Early bird closes: 24 October