Wisdom of Crowd Sought to Bring Business to its Proper Place on Planet

Wisdom of Crowd Sought to Bring Business to its Proper Place on Planet

IDEO, Fowler Center, David Cooperrider seek input from global community on singular path to change business — and society — narrative

Business might well emerge in the 21st century as one of the most positive, creative forces to propel our world forward into a time of unprecedented flourishing.

This is the premise of a new crowd-sourcing challenge hosted by the open innovation platform for social and environmental impact, OpenIDEO, in conjunction with Case Western Reserve University’s Fowler Center for Sustainable Value and Case Western professor and global thought leader David Cooperrider.

The challenge calls for people to bring their inspiration to this question: How might we identify and celebrate businesses that innovate for world benefit — and inspire other companies to do the same?

“The transition to a sustainable earth ‘is a task of historic importance,’ ” Stanford engineer and futurist Willis Harman noted in a conversation with David Cooperrider 25 years ago when the seed for this challenge was first planted.

“The 21st century can become an unprecedented century of sustainable innovation where businesses can excel, people can thrive, and nature can flourish.’”

David Cooperrider

Business as an Agent of World Benefit

That conversation led David to an inquiry he came to call “business as an agent of world benefit,” with the questions he’s been asking over the last couple of decades now shaping this crowd-sourcing challenge:

— How about a global-scale search, across cultures, for a new vision of a better world and a next industrial age, including the kinds of organizations and partnerships that might play a world-changing role?

— What does it look like — business as an agent of world benefit?

— Where is it happening?  Who are the pioneers and surprising new leaders?

— Can we locate the golden innovations — stories of courage, strength, and elevated practice that are emerging and working successfully that, if further developed and applied, could vitally transform the world toward human, economic, and ecological well-being?

A North Star Story

With the Fowler Center also backing this endeavour, executive director Roger Saillant speaks about sensing an urgency for new global solutions.

Roger Saillant

He notes the “loss of resiliency” that seems to be permeating our species and the need for something for people to centre on.

Like David, Roger sees that it’s stories that can make the difference, and envisions this new endeavour yielding hundreds if not thousands of stories of which one will be chosen, possibly every three years, to be what he calls the north star story. This will be a story people the world over can look to and reflect on and change their course as it guides. Some sponsor or endowment fund will likely be necessary to make this recognition process sustainable.

Roger says he envisions this effort, whatever form it ultimately takes, contributing to accelerating the world to a "state of flourishing, to a state of resiliency, to stop some of the headlong deterioration that we’re witnessing around the globe."

Join the Challenge

The OpenIDEO platform is intended to help determine how to turn the vision for this business recognition process into something practicable, far-reaching and truly transformative.

With the inspiration phase of the challenge now open, people are welcomed to tell stories of businesses they admire, provide information on analogous awards, organizations or initiatives, explain what world benefit means to them, and more.

The inspiration phase ends in 15 days, when it will switch to concepting, followed by an applause phase, and then refinement. Finally, evaluation of this global collection of community concepts is slated to begin Nov. 21

Click here to visit the OpenIDEO crowdsourcing platform and join this challenge.

Feel free to comment on this story below, or e-mail michelle(at)axiomnews.ca.

News graphic images courtesy of: Canada in Afghanistan / Canada en Afghanistan (flickr): Kids Studying Together (Sept 2012). NASA Goddard Photo and Video/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (flickr): NASA Watching Atlantic Tropics: Katia, Tropical Storm Lee and System 94L (Sept 2012). WWarby/William Warby (flickr): Docklands Skyscraper (Sept 2012).