Social thinking, inclusive capitalism, even innovation based on community engagement – these all are valuable, important and future- oriented trends which are widely discussed, also within companies of each size. We all like these ideas – not because we are becoming more social than before, but because it is widely known that there is a huge potential in it to bring social and business closer together and to engage millions of people who as poor have no access. But if they had sustainable marketplaces, they would grow the world economy immensely. Because business of the future matters. The problems to develop future markets are easy to recognize: demographic developments, the inequality of poor and rich, migrations, markets that do not work any more as in the past fifty years and the missing working models on how to prepare for the future. But besides taking into account statistical data and financial reports and to define goals that should be achieved by doing a, b, c – be it for the business, for leaders, for the people in need – the main challenge is to make it happen and to implement a new way of thinking and acting. That is even harder when the main driver is money, not society. It seems that traditional business trainings, innovative concepts and ideas do not cover what is really needed. More and more expensive trainings, huge strategy papers where and how to start inclusive capitalism does not mean that we start to change. A single project group can run a project, but how to change our way of thinking as an overall movement, how to – make social and inclusive business thinking a crowd movement within an existing company and the business world – when all what we do is based on our traditional education system, rules and processes in place?
“Be the change you want to be seen in the world”, as Ghandi says is true.
No doubt. But the reality often makes us understand that we have to work on the most important things that we are used to and short term results are still the main driving factor for our businesses and then… resources are limited. Well, being innovative (not just to talk about it) requires time to try out, courage and back- ups when things fail. Early adaptation curve is hard, not just for technical inventions. At the beginning it is like combating against mills. I don’t talk about those who are innovation managers but those who are not. About innovation and thinking out of the box as a mass movement. This early period where we have to invest and still wait for a real success is consuming a lot of energies and not always it leads to good results. This applies to social thinking and social innovation in the business world even more than for the introduction of a new device … So what?
What I have learned is that it is not presentations and papers that really provoke mass change, but the emotional buy-in of people. Have you ever thought why some topics go viral? How huge movements and changes are based on, such as cooperatives, revolutions and the women movement? It is often very emotion-driven. Not all need to know all facts and figures. But people like to be and to do good and to become part of it.
That’s my 5 key learnings if you really want to engage people in social innovation and different thinking and how to make a starting point that engages:
1. Start. Even if not everything is planned. But start instead of talking endless hours only.
2. Do something small and make it tangible and understandable so that people can see, touch, go and “smell” the difference. Build something.
3. Be convinced by yourself that what you do, your social engagement and inclusive capitalism is more than just a project. More than facts and figures you can present. You have to believe in it. You need a vision and have patience. Otherwise, how should other people do?
3. Find a few “ambassadors” within the company, influencers who really are convinced that what you do is a promising way. Don’t forget they are people like you and me. You need to convince them – by facts and most of all by emotions ( if you are interested in this topic have a look at the exposure trip chapter).
4. You experience first successful results? Learn to share “your baby” with others, partnering is key. Sharing responsibilities and ideas might be difficult at the beginning, but if you don’t it might not grow. Social innovation and inclusive capitalism is based on people and their needs. So, if you do not live it, you are not authentic.
5. Do good and talk about it. Engage people. This might take away a lot of time which you would like to invest differently. However, if people not know it will not go viral, not become a mass movement. But this is what you intended, isnt it?