Being a force for positive change in the world: the time is now

Social_Intra_Jazz_HIThere is an excellent report on the state of the world, and how to make it better from a group of eminent people, headed by the former boss of the World Trade Organisation, Pascal Lamy, called Now for the Long Term. This group of distinguished, largely international public servants with some business figures was convened by the Oxford Martin School to examine how to “break gridlock on global challenges or risk an unstable future.” Their excellent report which, if you have not yet read it, I heartily commend, begins with an arresting statement: “NOW is the best time in history to be alive.”

I am challenging my students to ask themselves whether they agree with this statement; and what they are going to do in their lives to make that statement a reality. For a long time, the presumption has been that when it comes to the contribution of business, it is about “tone from the top” – the tone set by the most senior leaders of the firm – what the Americans call the “c-suite.” Undoubtedly, how the CEO and his/her direct reports treat responsibility for their company’s Social, Environmental and Economic impacts is critically important. But the exciting news is that younger, relatively more junior people in companies can also have significant positive impact – if they choose to do so.

In our new book, Social Intrapreneurism and All That Jazz, we discuss the role of social intrapreneurs – “people within a large corporation who take direct initiative for innovations that address social or environmental challenges while also creating commercial value for the company.”

Younger, relatively more junior people in companies can also have significant positive impact – if they choose to do so.

We examine how these highly creative social innovators are improvising alliances across, as well as beyond, their companies to create micro-insurance products for low-income people; offer delivery services to millions of small businesses in slums around the world; develop alternative-energy solutions inside a major gas and oil corporation; partner with a Brazilian community to produce new natural care products; establish a “green” advertising network within a major media company; apply engineering expertise to help alleviate poverty and much more – all while generating commercial value for their companies.

One of the exciting – and somewhat humbling – dimensions of tracking many of these social intrapreneurs is the way they are harnessing social media and information & communications technologies to help them achieve their goals. We are trying to emulate them in maximizing social media to communicate the messages of our book.

So, in addition to the periodic postings that one or more of us will be putting here on the Greenleaf blog, you can find photos from the book of the jazz musicians we show to illustrate our learning from the world of jazz; a book summary and short “Meet the Author” film interview with David Grayson; and blogs on the Guardian Sustainable Business, Business Fights Poverty; and articles based on the book.

Business can play a major role in ensuring that “now is the best time to be alive” and social intrapreneurs within businesses can be one, significant part of this. We want to be part of on-going efforts to help publicize and support social intrapreneurs; and we hope that our new book will be a contribution to this, and just maybe, a manifesto for corporate change-makers and social innovators in business. Please help us by spreading the word!

Follow David and Melody on Twitter @DoughtyDavidG @MelodyMcLaren

SPECIAL OFFER: Get 20% off Social Intrapreneurism and All That Jazz. Just visit our website and use code SOC20 at the checkout.

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