22 Sep 2010
One of the profound ideas I learned over this past year is the notion of positive sum as opposed to zero sum. Our clients usually think privacy or security, security or compliance, but positive sum looks at how to integrate both, where as zero sum looks at the exclusive or </end math blurb>. And similarly goes for many decisions made in life: make money or do good? doing things right or doing the right things? generate profit or address social issues?
For every senior that is going through the moral struggle between non-profit vs corporate, for every non-profit worker that frowns upon the capitalist ways of corporations, and for every young professional thinking there’s no money in “doing good”, commerce and justice don’t have to be antagonistic notions.
Before I joined the firm, I had clear motives and goals. One year later, I’m shifting my mindset from “What can the firm do for me?” to “What can this firm do to encourage and realize change?”. This is the case for social intrapreneurs: corporations need individuals who can work inside the organization to develop and promote practical solutions to societal problems where progress is currently stalled by failed markets. Corporations have an abundance of power, and need social intrapreneurs to unleash this power. Corporations are like ”elephants, as they take time to change directions, but when they do, they bring lots of positive weight or change”.
While social entrepreneurs are plentiful in ideas and then have to find resources, social intrapreneurs are rich with resources to work on solutions. The Economist writes ”The greatest agents for sustainable change are unlikely to be social entrepreneurs, interesting though they are…The 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.”
Social intrapreneurs are not looking to philanthropy (because isn’t philanthrophy dead?) or CSR, but looking at sustainable and financially viable blended value solutions. This means moving beyond company volunteer days or fundraising campaigns, it’s going beyond the band-aid quick fix and going to the root of the problem. This means initiatives like Accenture’s Development Partnership, McKinsey’s Social Sector Office, the Monitor Institute, and Bain’s Non-profit, Government, and Higher Education arm. I applaud these organizations for the remarkable work that they’re doing and can’t wait to see this as the norm for the majority of organizations.
Lovely Day says it best:
- We believe innovation is more powerful than responsibility.
- We believe investment shapes the world more than charity.
- We believe impact can be measured over more than one bottom line.
I highly recommend The Social Intrapreneur: A Field Guide for Corporate Changemakers for further reading.