What is redemptive entrepreneurship?

Redemptive

following the pattern of creative restoration through sacrifice in our life and work.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP

directing our agency and resources toward organizational creation, innovation, and risk.

The Redemptive Frame

The Redemptive Frame helps define and explore redemptive possibilities in an organizational setting. It overlays the 3 Ways to Work (Exploitative, Ethical, Redemptive) with the 3 Dimensions of Work (Strategy, Operations, Leadership).

This as a redemptive chart
3 Ways to Work

People, organizations, and communities relate to the world in one of three ways.

3 Ways to Work

EXPLOITATIVE

The Exploitative way is to take what you can get—to gain any advantage, to prevail, to possess. Exploitative actors may be open to “win-win” in certain cases; but are most comfortable and satisfied with “I win, you lose.” The motivating force behind the Exploitative way is fundamentally self- or tribe-centered—to win and control.

We are surrounded by the Exploitative way; we all fall naturally into it; and are always trying to avoid its effects on us.

take what you can get
I Win, you Lose
win and control

3 Ways to Work

Ethical

The Ethical way is to do the right thing—to do no harm, keep the rules, solve problems, and win clean. Ethical actors pursue “win-win” whenever they can, as long as the potential loss isn’t too great. The motivating force behind the Ethical way is to be good and do good — which can often also be self- or tribe-centered.

We expect the Ethical of ourselves and of those around us, yet we often fall short; and we’re grateful when we encounter it.

do the right thing
I Win, YOU Win
be good and do good

3 Ways to Work

Redemptive

The Redemptive way is creative restoration through sacrifice—to bless others, renew culture, and give of ourselves. Redemptive actors seek to turn “win-lose” into “win-win” or even “I sacrifice, we win.” The motivating force behind the Redemptive way is fundamentally other-centered: to love and serve.

We rarely expect to encounter the Redemptive; though whenever we do encounter it, we’re changed.

creative restoration through sacrifice
I sacrifice, we win
love and serve
Exploitative
Ethical
Redemptive
DEfining Redemptive

What does it mean to be Redemptive?

“Redemption” is an economic term that means to buy back something (or someone) to restore it to its rightful place. For Christians it is full of great theological meaning, referring to Jesus’ act of becoming human and sacrificing his life so that we could be restored to a right relationship with God and his creation.

Wherever there is loss, brokenness, unfairness, injustice, waste, or harm—and someone willingly enters into the situation by sacrificially bearing a cost or taking a risk, to help the person, resource, or system to be restored or repaired—that’s redemptive action.

And this core redemptive pattern—creative restoration through sacrifice—not only describes Jesus’ work to save the world but also our daily work, especially as people of faith, to serve the world. It gives shape to our mission as those who have been written into the greater redemptive story through no merit of our own.

Redemptive is
creative1
restoration2
through sacrifice3.

DEfining entrepreneurship

What do we mean by entrepreneurship?

When we hear the term “entrepreneurship” today, many of us think of well-capitalized, tech-forward, high-growth, Silicon Valley-style startups. (And at Praxis, our community includes its fair share of these ventures and leaders.)

But while this model captures our cultural attention, it's just one small part of the varied entrepreneurial landscape—which also includes “Main Street” businesses that find new, sustainable ways to serve their communities. It’s scrappy nonprofits and established NGOs that find new paths to impact, replication, and scale. It’s new teams leading existing organizations, placing bets on new products, services, customers, business models, and channels. It’s intrapreneurial mavericks who are given the freedom to launch new businesses from existing ones. It’s the dorm-room and solopreneur hustles that find a way to sustainability through sheer force of will and inspiration.

And to us, entrepreneurship is far more than just the founders—it's also the funders, builders, creatives, and educators with the imagination and will to help make new things possible. They all play their part in "directing agency and resources toward organizational creation, innovation, and risk."

3 Dimensions of work

Every significant part of organizational work falls along one of three dimensions.

3 Dimensions of Work

Strategic Vision

The Strategic Vision is everything the venture does to express mission, serve customers, and create value—in the form of products, services, programs, brands, and even digital and physical experiences. The essence of a Strategic Vision is its cultural impact: “What does this organization do to the world?”

A redemptive strategy doesn’t set out to exploit or leverage cultural trends for gain, or even merely to advance culture in the general direction of “progress.” Instead, redemptive strategy is about building products, services, programs, brands, and experiences that renew culture by making their sphere of impact somehow more humanizing, truthful, beautiful, virtuous, lasting, and God-glorifying.

3 Dimensions of Work

Operating Model

The Operating Model is everything the venture does to develop, support, and deliver the Strategic Vision—in the form of culture, financial models, value chains, and partnerships. The essence of an Operating Model is its people impact: “What does this organization do to its people and partners?”

A redemptive operating model refuses to use people merely as resources to achieve organizational goals; and it seeks to go further than merely respecting team members and partners. Instead, redemptive operations are about building culture, financial models, value chains, and partnerships that bless people through grace, generosity, justice, patience, and mutuality.

3 Dimensions of Work

Leadership Intent

The Leadership Intent is the motives, worldviews, imagination, and practices of the leadership team, whose decisions and actions set the course for the venture’s Strategic Vision and Operating Model. The essence of a Leadership Intent is its guiding narrative: “What script are the leaders of the organization living out?”

A redemptive leadership intent is marked not by an ambition to live for ourselves, or even just to improve ourselves. Instead, redemptive leadership is about patiently rewiring our motives, worldview, imagination, and practices around dying to self—becoming more surrendered, humble, accountable, generous, and rested.

The REDEMPTIVE FRAme

Principles of applying the Redemptive Frame

the TRAJECTORy principle

Every organization, like every person, contains a mixture of all three approaches—exploitative blind spots, ethical strengths, points of redemptive light. But every exploitative (or redemptive) decision makes the next exploitative (or redemptive) decision more likely, setting a primary trajectory or approach for the venture.

the horizon principle

The Leadership dimension defines the horizon of possibility for an organization's Strategy and Operations; and the younger the organization, the more this is true. Organizations can grow bigger,  faster, or in different directions than the founders imagined; but we know of no organization that has ever be more redemptive in its actual impact than the founders intended. The scripts we internalize, the practices we nurture, the imagination we cultivate, and the choices we make as leaders are the primary limiting factor on our ventures' impact.

Redemptive wheel

Redemptive entrepreneurship is

faith and love in organizational action:
following the pattern of

creative restoration through sacrifice,

integrated across leadership, strategy, and operations
in venture creation, innovation, and funding.

Redemptive Entrepreneurship is an aspiration—every one of us, and every organization, falls well short of it every day—but it is not an empty dream. We have seen the power of the redemptive approach in the lives and ventures we most admire, and we’re committed to becoming a community of practice of this craft.

explore resources