For a big company, innovating is anticipating. It involves being able to spot weak signals, new ideas and models that will disrupt tomorrow’s markets. In only 10 years, changes in digital technology have deeply disrupted the rules of economic competition. In a faster and more interconnected world, companies that have been able to anticipate the changing rules of the game are now the ones that lead that game.
After the rise of the technological revolution, social entrepreneurs are now heralding a new revolution. To address societal issues at their roots, they use the codes and tools from the economic world to advance their missions for the common good. Over two decades, they have demonstrated the compatibility between social and economic value creation as well as nimble forms of organization leading to big change. From the collaborative economy to microfinance, the models they develop often forecast major economic mutations.
What do these social entrepreneurs tell us today? They make a clear point that the solution won’t come from one single sector or single organization. They demonstrate that it is high time for all economic actors to collaborate to solve societal issues, and that everyone will begin to gain. They are challenging companies to go beyond mere corporate social responsibility or philanthropy and to enter into win-win partnerships that address societal issues while contributing to innovation and performance.
Examples are still scattered, but they are emerging, and they are calling companies to anticipate and pay attention to what will be the second big turn of the 21st century — the social impact wave.