“Making the Turn” for social entrepreneurship..
We’re ‘making the turn’ from last week’s post about my own personal experience of photo-sharing and blogging of:
“I like finding local deals (value)
I like to be able to do something on a whim or with the advice of like-minded friends and family (social)
I (now) like to share the things I find and hope someone else will be able to take advantage my new found discoveries, and also enjoy good fortunes as a result of my own self-discovery.
“Sharing good fortunes you find along the way to your own self-discovery.”
As an introvert, I enjoy this type of introspection, I’d like to move the perspective outward to a place a little more foreign to that of the business analyst. Or the perspective of the Enterprise Architect by looking at product/market fit from the ‘outside-in’ instead of the ‘inside-out.’ I found some inspiration in a new article in Fast Company called, “Technology Is Useless If It Doesn’t Address A Human Need” by Meagan Fallone. The article discusses the challenges faced by the Barefoot College to provide a product needed by over 850 million people (below a distinction is made between the term customers vs users or human beings.)
“We in turn can teach Silicon Valley about the human link between the design function and the impact for a human being’s quality of life. We do not regard the users of technology as “customers,” but as human beings whose lives must be improved by the demystification of and access to technology. Otherwise, technology has no place in the basic human needs we see in the developing world. Sustainable design of technology must address real challenges; this is non-negotiable for us. Social enterprise stands alone in its responsibility to ensuring sustainability and impact in every possible aspect of our work.”
I thought their use of the term ‘social enterprise’ interesting. I’ve heard it used over and over at Salesforce and other Valley conferences, but this was being used differently. As a business analyst with hopes and dreams of developing a social business, I understand the difference-but does everybody? This week, I thought of the gap developing between the ‘social entrepreneur‘ and ‘social enterprise.’ Social in the context above is not Facebook and Twitter, but more of a means of describing real value through real collaboration with the folks who can make “THE” difference. These are the marketers, the service technicians, the installers. Should these folks be referred to as ‘social engineers?’
My point is, just because “we have the technology” doesn’t mean it’s readily available and amiable to the folks who can actually make a difference in their local society and it’s even further removed from the folks who can be considered most effected or receive the ‘most value’ by it. You have to have the mechanisms “to teach a man to fish” so they can feed themselves. It appears the Barefoot College has the channels to teach fishing.
While Louisville, Ky is far removed from the Third World cultures, we’re just as removed from the VC and innovation culture of Silicon Valley. It’s even more important this ‘chasm’ or gap between ‘traditional approaches’ to business development are determined, understood and known between our world and marketplace in order for us to ever provide a helping hand (locally), let alone, in other regions of the world.
Another article found in Fast Company was called, The Internet Of Things Is People, Innovating (btw, Fast Company’s iPad app is awesome!) The technology presented was as young and burgeoning as ‘light.’ I found this really interesting (and ironic) as the article discussed the amazing promise of the Philips Hue (smart light bulb). It is, “A futuristic, eco-friendly LED powered device that has a tiny electronic brain and some awareness of what’s going on around it–it can even talk to other technology. It’s smart.”
Think about the social entrepreneurs designing products and services that surround this new tech. We’re definitely in a world where the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ are becoming much more divided. They go on,
“..in concert with other home technology, is an almost magical item that augments your lifestyle. Maybe its convenience and smart powers even add to your relaxation, health or happiness. Seriously, it might: The best and most innovative uses of smart lightbulbs are probably things we can’t imagine yet, and we understand lighting can affect your mood. The impact smart bulbs will have on all sorts of things in your life will be impressive.”
So while “we have the technology” getting it to the masses is another problem for marketing and service oriented individuals. These are the social entrepreneurs of today. They have to be “in the know” of what new technologies exist and also be able to interpret, understand and know how it might make a difference in the lives of someone here at home and possibly more significantly in a land far away (in a land in which they’re probably unfamiliar.)
Now, this is a challenge!
So, while I beat the crowds to Macy’s at 12:00 am Black Friday (Thanksgiving night) I think of these challenges.. How do you get the best of what the Silicon Valley has to offer into the hands, hearts and minds of the folks who can actually make a difference with them?
Or more personally put..
How do you “share the things you find and hope someone else will be able to take advantage of the new found discoveries, and also enjoy good fortunes as a result of you own self-discovery?”
Frequently used words
social able between business developing difference far folks found good human impact like make more real silicon smart social teach technology things understand valley world
- 5 Social Enterprise Incubators and Accelerators You Should Know About (socialenterprisebuzz.com)
- Technology Is Useless If It Doesn’t Address A Human Need (fastcoexist.com)
- 6 Things Silicon Valley Can Teach Social Entrepreneurs (fastcoexist.com)
- How to build a social enterprise that makes money (socialenterprise.guardian.co.uk)