"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."

G. B. Shaw

miércoles, 30 de abril de 2008

Social entrepreneurs: Agents of change

Jan 31st 2008
From The Economist print edition

GO to any recent meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF), including the one in Davos, Switzerland, last week, and you cannot fail to be struck by the yearning in the corporate world to be a good environmental citizen—provided that it does not cost the earth. Gloomy lectures on climate change are packed, and copies of heartening books on how to turn greenery into gold are in much demand.

Quite what readers will learn, though, from this work by an environmental consultant and a WEF stalwart, is harder to fathom—even if a copy was handed out free to every delegate at Davos last week. The book sketches briefly the activities of many people who have found ways to improve the lives of others. Many have created laudable projects. Some have made money, and a few have become substantial employers, or founded large businesses. But the problems of social entrepreneurship soon emerge.

An obvious one is the difficulty of raising money. If you are setting out to save the world rather than to make a profit, it is perhaps not surprising that financial institutions are less likely to give you money than your friends and family, or trusts and foundations. It is all very well for the authors to point out that “all enterprises—including the most profit-hungry mainstream ventures—start out as nonprofits.” If the business plan does not set profitability as a goal, then investors are likely to see it as philanthropy, not investment.

More worrying, though, is the fact that both for-profit and non-profit social enterprises seem so rarely to grow large or to be replicated on a big scale. One survey found that only 144 of the 200,000 non-profit enterprises founded in America since 1970 had reached more than $50m in annual revenue; another, that 75% of a sample of American for-profit social and environmental enterprises had fewer than 25 fulltime employees.

The solution for which the authors clearly yearn is a different world. “Like it or not [and they clearly like it], the world is in the early stages of powerful, deep-running and pervasive changes that will transform its economics, its cultures and people's understanding of who they are and what they stand for.” Well, maybe. But those changes may not necessarily make life easier for the “unreasonable man” who (quoting George Bernard Shaw) “persists in trying to adapt the world to himself”.

And some of these unreasonable people may succeed in changing the world in ways that nobody at last week's Davos meeting would have advocated. “Increasingly,” say the authors, “small groups of people use multiple kinds of leverage to drive change on a disproportionate scale.” Tucked away in a footnote to that sentence is the name Osama bin Laden, a social entrepreneur who has used his leverage all too effectively.

The greatest agents for sustainable change are unlikely to be the well-intentioned folk described in this book, interesting though they are. They are much more likely to be the entirely reasonable people, often working for large companies, who see ways to create better products or reach new markets, and have the resources to do so. Ratan Tata, with his one-lakh car, may improve more lives than any social entrepreneur has done. And he might even make money from doing so.

Fuente: The Economist

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sábado, 19 de abril de 2008

Innovación: predicciones para el 2008

Innovation Predictions 2008
Get ready for … anything. As companies, governments—indeed, entire countries—confront an array of dilemmas, the only constant will be change
by Bruce Nussbaum

Building the next-generation enterprise—and maybe even the next-generation nation—will preoccupy most of us in 2008. The demand for innovation is soaring in the business community and is just beginning to gain traction in the political sphere. Most of the leading Presidential candidates have thoughtful positions on innovation (BusinessWeek.com, 11/15/07). And nearly all CEOs and top managers who have learned the language of innovation are now seeking the means to make it happen. It took the Quality Movement a generation to change business culture. The Innovation Movement is still in its infancy, but it's growing fast.

You can see that in the vast changes taking place within the field. Companies are demanding new tools and methods to execute that change within their existing organizations, as well as for the kind of design thinking that transforms cultures. To take advantage of the opportunities, chief innovation officers in big corporations such as Procter & Gamble (PG) and Harley Davidson (HOG) are leaving to join consultancies or set up shop for themselves. Consolidation is quickening apace as small innovation consultancies try to combine big-picture thought leadership with specific, on-demand Web applications that manage networks, talent, customers, suppliers, and employees around the world. In 2007, consultancy Monitor bought into innovation strategy specialists Doblin, led by Larry Keeley, while another large consultancy, BSG Alliance acquired research firm New Paradigm, led by Wikinomics co-author Don Tapscott.

What's up for 2008? Keep an eye on the business schools. Companies are demanding that their managers be more creative and less obsessed with cost and efficiency. The last revolution within executive education was the introduction of Management Science in the 1950s. Will we see the spread of IM—Innovation Management—in "exec ed"?
Privacy, Mobility, and the Next Big Idea

And expect the whole realm of social networking to change in 2008. Just when you "got it" and thought it was all about open, personal, and casual online relationships, social media will morph into another ecosystem—one with lots of gates. Who your friends are is becoming far more important than how many friends you have. We can probably thank our advertising friends for this. The drive to monetize Facebook and MySpace (NWS) by using members' personal information is alienating many people, driving them to more private networks. Stay tuned, and watch Europe and Brazil for future trends. Social networks are beginning to feel a lot like hot nightclubs—with velvet rope barriers.

As for hot products in 2008, prepare for yet more surprises. The triumph of opening up the cell phone will create an array of new applications we can only dream of right now. GPS may seem old hat by next summer. The mobile Facebook is bound to be fascinating. And the e-book may be just an iteration away from taking off. Want to reduce your personal carbon footprint easily? Read books, magazines, and newspapers on an e-book.

And the Big Idea for 2008? Stop competing against your competitors. Your traditional rivals aren't your biggest worry. Disruptive innovation is hitting corporations from outside their business. Verizon (VZ) was forced to open its cell-phone service because Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG) smacked it hard. Verizon's new business model will probably generate 10 times the demand for service. You just never know. That's life, in beta.

Fuente: Businessweek

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VIDEO: Tiruchirappalli Regional Engineering College


Puedes ver el video (en inglés) haciendo click aquí.

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