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As we ease from the crowdfunding phase of our social innovation book project and deepen our research, one big personal goal is to read more books spanning leadership, innovation, design, and sustainability.

I shared this fantastic infographic for business books a few weeks back. Now, thanks to an incredible post by Dimitar Vlahov of Sustainable Brands, we have a robust list of 13 sustainability-centered books by some of the leading thinkers in the space.

Read the full post: http://i8s.us/16OeW4G

Read the full post and see the graphic on the Sustainable Brands website here.


A few that caught my eye:

The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability — Designing for Abundance, by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, is the long-awaited sequel to Cradle to Cradle, arguably one of the few most influential sustainability books of all time. The Upcycle promises to be at least as impactful and comes fresh off the printing press!
Winning the Story Wars: Why Those Who Tell (and Live) the Best Stories Will Rule the Future, by Jonah Sachs, has turned into an instant must-have classic on storytelling, a tool vital to the success of any corporate communications campaign in an era of information overload and instant content gratification. The New Sustainability Advantage: Seven Business Case Benefits of a Triple Bottom Line, by Bob Willard, shows how sustainability strategies can increase revenue, reduce costs, avoid impending risks and enhance brand value, resulting in profit improvements of 51-81% within three to five years for a typical company.We First: How Brands and Consumers Use Social Media To Build a Better World, by Simon Mainwaring, is a powerful account of everything brands have to gain from an always-on and always-authentic social media presence.You Unstuck: Mastering the New Rules of Risk-Taking at Work and in Life, by Libby Gill, discusses the (surprising) difference between True Hope and False Hope, and formulates wise lessons in getting unstuck in one’s career, finances, health and relationships. As a renowned executive coach, Gil offers timely tips on employee engagement and organizational change.

The April 2013 gathering of Impact Law Forum was held at IDEO.org‘s scenic office in San Francisco.

Leading the session was Sean Hewens, IDEO.org’s Knowledge Manager + In-House Counsel

Sean Hewens, IDEO.org: law + human-centered design

Sean started by asking a simple question to the audience…

Sean Hewens, IDEO.org: law + human-centered design

Participants were asked to write 3 words they thought of when they heard the word “lawyer” on Post-its. The initial batch of responses was small…

Sean Hewens, IDEO.org: law + human-centered design

 

…but definitely expanded as the evening continued.

 

Sean Hewens, IDEO.org: law + human-centered design

The exercise was a great example of an emerging field, human centered design (HCD).  It was especially meaningful to hear Sean’s perspective on the field since IDEO and IDEO.org have been at the forefront of developing human-centered design approaches and applying them to pressing world issues.

What is human-centered design (HCD)?

Sean explained the field by contrasting it with the traditional approach to design, which involves  planning/drawings to show look and functionality of a product. Instead, human-centered design is a problem-solving approach to innovation. Sean explained that it begins with a deep empathy with a customer’s needs, hopes, wants, etc. and helps create innovation rooted in people, and the broader context that shape the way they live.

What is IDEO?

IDEO has gained ground as a leading design firm and international innovation consultancy. Founded in 1991, IDEO has worked on such iconic designs as Apple’s first mouse, Nike sunglasses, as well as with with top global brands on organizational development. IDEO arguably became a household name in 1999 when 60 Minutes and then NBC Nightly News aired a segment about the unique process-based approach to design. You can take a trip down memory lane…

What is IDEO.org?

IDEO has been involved in social-sector projects for over a decade. As Sean explained, in December 2011 IDEO.org was launched as a non-profit focused on design solutions with a focus on poverty alleviation. He reiterated that IDEO.org selects projects based on their anticipated impact on society, the environment, and/or people affected.
As explained on the “About” page of IDEO.org

What are Sean’s tips for designing for law?

Sean shared a number of surprisingly specific tips on how attorneys can begin to adopt a design approach to law.

1. Never use Times New Roman
2. Use one space between sentences, not two
3. Learn the creative suite, to make documents appealing, compelling, “pretty”
4. Use Keynote instead of Power Point
5. Be visual, i.e. use Post-Its and other ways to visually map solutions
6. Remember, you are smart + you are creative!

 

How did Sean go from a traditional path of law into law + design?

After completing an undergraduate degree at Columbia, Sean started his career in the Civilian Complaint Division at the NYPD. He worked primarily on drug law cases, which motivated him to pursue law school so he could reform drug laws. After law school, he detoured in to corporate law. He kept a journal during his four years as a corporate law and noticed a trend—he did not regularly interact with people, he was not happy.Sean Hewens, IDEO.org: law + human-centered designHe took a major leap by enrolling in a design program, which began to influence his approach to design. He was inspired afterwards to launch a non-profit called Smallbean to put used personal electronics in the hands of Tanzanians and travelled to Africa to create a technical hub. The project was incredibly eye-opening, but left him in a difficult financial situation. He classified the project as a “failure”, noting that failure is actually a win in the HCD world. The HCD approach is to fail fast, fail early, and iterate.

So, he did.  He and co-founder Ross Lohr launched Project Repat. The premise is that 90%+ of donated t-shirts and clothing is shipped to Africa. Project Repat would enter the local markets in Africa to reclaim t-shirts and re-sell in America, with 100% of proceeds given to the local African economies. Since its founding, Project Repat has shifted focus, you can read more in the update here.

Those experiences excited Sean to take his design + law approach to new frontiers, leading him to IDEO.org

Sean’s parting thoughts?

Get out there. Understand and observe. Work with other disciplines. Consider the system you are working in (or with). Make solutions visual. Prototype early and often.Don’t just be a lawyer…find opportunities to design.

Dive in!

+Acumen and IDEO.org are teaming up to offer a 5-week course called “Human Centered Design for Social Innovation.” Teams of 2-5 can sign up here by July 3rd. Hear Sean talk about the course below

Read More

It’s not often that a speaker at an event shares live feed of their EKG. But then, the VLAB panel discussion titled “The Future of Diagnostics: Consumer Driven Medicine” was not an ordinary look at the field of medicine. The event–which was held at the Munger Center of the Paul Brest Hall of Stanford Law School–took place on Thursday, April 16th 2013.As part of illustrating emerging technologies in mobile health, moderator Dr. Kraft pulled up an app he regularly uses which tracks key health indicators. From his iPhone to the big screen, he shared real-time data such as heart rate and EKG.

Consumer driven diagnostics: emerging and disruptive

The event was a fascinating look into the possibility and scope that emerging technologies such as mobile phone apps, bluetooth technology, and mobile scanning have altered the way we track and understand our health. The burgeoning field of consumer driven medicine has already grounded costs of once-expensive processes such as DNA sequencing. As you may note from the NIH graph, the cost of sequencing a human genome used to be upwards of $10K in the early 2000’s, today costs a fraction of that sticker price. Industry leaders, such as Dr. Kraft, cited predictions that the cost of sequencing a human genome will one day cost in the range of $100-200.

The multi-level disruption of healthcare and diagnostics was the focus of this panel. It featured the following speakers:

Moderator, Daniel Kraft, M.D., Executive Director, FutureMed, Faculty Chair of Medicine, Singularity University
Panelist, Walter De Brouwer, CEO of SCANADUPanelist, Dr. David Albert, Founder and Chief Medical Officer at AliveCorPanelist, Anne DeGheest, HealthTech Capital, Managing Director and Founder

 

Watch the video

View the entire panel discussion in the following video:

 


What social entrepreneurs should consider

One aspect of consumer driven diagnostics is the technology + medicine aspect. i.e. How do you code for diagnostic medicine? A select sector of the entrepreneurial and social entrepreneurial communities will focus on this side of the rubics cube. This means understanding the science, the web development, and compliance landscape (i.e. “HIPAA”, etc.) of developing medicine-related technology.

However, there is another incredibly vital angle that will require impact innovation attention. It is the distribution, scaling, and effective analysis of crowdsourced medical data. Consumer driven diagnostics is as much a data problem as well as a medical-technology problem. If you aren’t building the consumer-facing software, you might consider creating efficient processes by which data collection becomes scalable, increasing amounts of data are accurately analyzed, and methods are developed for keeping this potentially-impactful data secure and private.

If you step back from the niche area of medicine + technology you arrive to a broader place of making sense of, efficiently using, and securely tracking big data. That is a problem that could benefit from the nuanced, triple-bottom line mindset of a social innovator.

Photos from the event

Here are a few photos from the event include images of the brochure, the networking hour that takes place directly before the panel, a view of a slide featuring the panel members, and a shot of dynamic moderator Dr. Kraft as he presented his engaging introduction.
VLAB panel on consumer driven health (#VLAVcdmed)
networking hour before fo

VLAB panel on consumer driven health (#VLAVcdmed)

VLAB panel on consumer driven health (#VLAVcdmed)

VLAB panel on consumer driven health (#VLAVcdmed)

VLAB panel on consumer driven health (#VLAVcdmed)

Interview with Kim Meredith, Stanford PACS

We have covered the Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) website, the blog, a webinar, articles, and an event of Stanford PACS on Innov8Social. So it was a special experience to sit down with Kim Meredith, the Executive Director of the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (PACS)–the research center dedicated to studying social innovation and which publishes the SSIR.

PACS is an remarkable ecosystem supporting academic research in philanthropy & social innovation. It produces and crowdsources ideas and experience through the SSIR online and print publications, conducts webinars, hosts free live workshops, and supports emerging research in this evolving field.

Its leader, Kim Meredith, is in an instant warm, knowledgeable, and engaged in the nuances of the field as well as the overarching high-level topics surrounding social innovation, philanthropy, and community engagement. She shared her broad vision for PACS and SSIR, what drives her work, and how the broader community can stay connected with the important social impact work being done there.

You can hear Kim explain the mission and work of PACS in this brief video:

Q&A with Kim Meredith, Executive Director of Stanford PACS

What is PACS?

[Kim Meredith, PACS]: PACS is a research center for scholars, practitioners, leaders, and publisher of the SSIR, focusing on topics of business, law, education in civil society. It emphasizes cross-sector collaboration, forming cross-disciplinary discussions and relationships, to be a center of knowledge-creation and sharing. It has 3 full-time faculty co-directors with backgrounds spanning organizational behavior, Political Science, and Law.
Interview with Kim Meredith, Stanford PACS

How has PACS grown since its start?

[Kim Meredith]: PACS has seen remarkable growth in the past few years—both in size of the center and its reach. PACS started out employing one full-time faculty member and now employees nine employees, and has scaled six times in two and-a-half years.

What goals have guided your work at PACS?

[Kim Meredith]: I learned about the position opening through my daughter, who was attending Stanford at the time. The vision and goals put forth regarding PACS fit well with my executive experience at Planned Parenthood and I was enthusiastic about pursuing the growth potential of PACS.
The goals that have guided me have been simple:
  • Acquire SSIR, which was originally housed in the Stanford business school.  The addition of SSIR has facilitated a deeper degree of knowledge-sharing, and has brought that publication into the same building as other impact-related research initiatives.
  • Fund valuable research. I outlined this as a priority so as to establish PACS as a center of learning and knowledge creation. It has been remarkable to see the level of engagement and sharing that PACS represents today—through publications, curriculum, and events.
  • Go global.  Our team has been working closely with Peking University in China to create a research center for Stanford faculty, students, and field practitioners to research philanthropy and civil society in China. The efforts resulted in Stanford PACS Peking (note: read an interesting interview with Kim Meredith re: the Peking campus)

What kinds of events does PACS host?

[Kim Meredith]: Recent PACS events have included:
Philanthropy Educators Symposium: The largest-ever convening of philanthropy educators, hosted by the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (Stanford PACS) in partnership with the Learning by Giving Foundation and Giving 2.0.
10 Years of SSIR: 10 year anniversary celebration with remarks by Paul Brest, PACS faculty co-director,and others
Donors Choose + charity: water: Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, Stanford PACS Founder and Board Chairman, leads a conversation with Charles Best, Founder and CEO of DonorsChoose.org, and Scott Harrison, Founder and CEO of charity:water.
GoodJobs event: A challenge focused on open data, jobs, and the social sector. GoodJobs invites Stanford students to create mobile and web tools that will help young people access social impact jobs.

Who are the current faculty directors?

[Kim Meredith]: Stanford PACS is guided by three thought leaders in the impact space.
  • Woody Powell, Professor of Education and by courtesy Sociology, Organizational Behavior, Management Science and Engineering, and Communication;
  • Rob Reich, Associate Professor of Political Science, Faculty Director of the Program on Ethics in Society and, by courtesy, of Philosophy and the School of Education; and
  • Paul Brest, Professor of Law, Emeritus and Former Dean of the School of Law, and formerPresident of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

What is “civil society”?

[Kim Meredith]: It refers to what is popularly called the “third sector”, independent of government and business.

What is the role of foundations in philanthropic giving?

Interview with Kim Meredith, Stanford PACS
continued reading: Giving 2.0,
SSIR 10th Anniversary edition,
upcoming event flier…thanks Kim!
[Kim Meredith]: Foundations only account for about 14% of philanthropic giving. Individuals give the lion’s share, i.e. over 80%, of giving. Beyond monetary contributions, foundations are drivers of change, they raise awareness about key issues, and work strategically to achieve outcome-oriented action.

What is the “new social economy”?

[Kim Meredith]: It encompasses the space between public, philanthropic, and private sector. The new social economy often involves nonprofit, as well as hybrid structures, and has opened up a new kind of discussion about mission-based ventures.

Do you see funding institutions that embrace this venture philanthropy mindset?

[Kim Meredith]: Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund (sv2) and Full Circle Fund are two funds that are actively engaged in this space.

What role do you think bloggers and entrants to the social innovation space can have? 

[Kim Meredith]: Bloggers and newcomers to this field can play a vital role in identifying, sourcing, and analyzing relevant, big data. There is an increasing need for qualified data, and writers and researchers in the field may be well-poised to address this need.
Answering these questions such as who is collecting data, how is it being collected, and where is it stored, creates an informed discussion about giving, philanthropy, and impact

Do you have any book recommendations?

[Kim Meredith]: Giving 2.0
and The Dragonfly Effect
are books that frame the social innovation and philanthropy issues and provide insight into emerging trends.

Codex #FutureLaw 2013 ConferenceOn April 26th 2013 hundreds of attorneys, law students, legal startup founders, informatics experts, and venture capitalists gathered for the first ever Codex FutureLaw Conference (i.e. #FutureLaw) hosted by Codex— the Stanford Center for Legal Informatics .Codex #FutureLaw 2013 ConferenceThe day was structured in 5 panel discussions with a kickoff keynote by Charley Moore (Founder of RocketLawyer) and capstone keynote by Daniel Martin Katz (Co-founder of ReinventLaw Laboratory and Asst. Professor at Michigan State Univ). It was a day for thinkers and doers in the legal tech space to talk shop, exchange notes, and ask tough questions about the field.The Reinvent Law movement has been making its voice heard in Silicon Valley. You may recall our recap of #ReinventLaw Silicon Valley through a compilation of tweets and photos. That event, in March 2013,  brought together 40+ speakers in a rapid-fire format to discuss major issues, inefficiencies, and challenges facing the current legal system—and solutions that tech + design + delivery can provide.

The #FutureLaw Conference at Stanford was a logical follow-up to the March event. It took place in a more intimate setting featuring fewer speakers, many of whom were leaders in this emerging space, in  interactive small panels featuring significant audience participation. The exploration into the topic was genuine—with many of the panelists posing questions from the audience in other panel sessions. The atmosphere was collegial and conversations of concepts raised in the panels continued between participants during the breaks and lunch hour.

Recaps of #FutureLaw

There are a few excellent recaps and summaries of the event that have been published. I am including Stanford Codex’s Storify recap of the event below. Here are a few additional resources and recaps:

 

8 Takeaways from #FutureLaw Conference Hosted by Stanford Codex

As the day progressed I began scribbling broad concepts in the margins of my notes. Things that left me…wait for it… #mindblown, or that provided fresh takes on enduring concepts. The field of law is ripe for innovation. The industry has been one of the hardest-hit by the Great Recession. And while select firms and attorneys have survived, if not prospered, for each success there are countless numbers of law school graduates and attorneys who struggle to find a foothold in the field, and perhaps no longer even seek one. Idle/restless legal professionals + tech innovation has given new pathways to take a look at the field through telescope, microscope, and 3D glasses. What has resulted is a movement to disrupt the status quo, and examine the success of law through the lens of its constituents rather than its practitioners. This change of viewpoint lends to re-prioritization and re-thinking of what law should be, and what data and design-driven innovation can lead law to become.

I wanted to share a few broad brushstroke takeaways from Codex FutureLaw 2013.

1. Contracts don’t need to be written documents. The second panel discussion of the day was on computational law and contracts. Panelist Kingley Martin (of KIIAC) brought up the fascinating question of “what is contract?” He reframed the traditional concept of a contract by specifying that above all, it is a “workflow design” and noting that we have chosen to express the workflow through words on a document. However, contracts could also be expressed as code or in a variety of other formats—some of which might be more suitable to replicating, customizing, and operationalizing.

2. Legal startups should choose a VC wisely. The third panel was all about financing legal startups. VCs and founders shared their experience in the funding process. One legal startup founder made it clear that legal startups are a unique animal, and that founders trying to line up funding should seek out a VC who understands nuances of the field. Another panelist summed up his thoughts on exit strategies:  “acquistion is a reasonable outcome, but a terrible plan.”

3. Design for people first.  Budding law students are instructed that one of an attorney’s duties is to zealously represent his/her client. That makes sense for the lawyer, and the client…but not for the field of law. The result is a field that contains, gaping disconnects and inefficiencies, essentially by design. Instead, new legal startups are thinking about the participants in law as they design tools, UI, and resources. They are leveraging what people want to know about the law in designing tools to provide those resources efficiently, cost-effectively, while leveraging copious amounts of relevant data available.

Codex #FutureLaw 2013 Conference4. Open source hybrids are OK. In one of the panels it was brought up that open sourcing legal information is particularly difficult because libraries of contracts, filings, documents, and research are precisely what distinguishes various attorneys and firms. Instead of a full open source mode, there might be innovative hybrid models that will enable attorneys and firms to retain their valuable information while also contributing to the overal open law movement. It doesn’t have to be an either/or thing.

5. Law can be “automated”.  As consumers are already used to “boiler plate” language for everything from online shopping to buying a new car. Instead of recreating the wheel, maybe there’s a way to standardize it to make the content more accessible and understandable. Awhile back Innov8Social covered the movement to standardize #PrivacyIcons, lead by a group called Disconnect. Movements such as that one are showing us that parts of law can be made more efficient through smart automation.

6. Law can be re-imagined. When you are sitting at a library studying the Rule Against Perpetuities in law school or slogging away memorizing key concepts and case law for the Bar exam, there is little room for thought on ways to re-imagine the field of law itself. But the truth is, of course it can be re-imagined. Entrepreneurs and attorneys complain that the patent law system and taxation mechanisms haven’t changed or adapted to emerging needs and industries. The influx and availability of digital data also changes how we interact with the field. Not only can law be reimagined, it is almost feels imperative that the movement to do so continue.

credit: Margaret Hagan

7. Law can be beautiful. One of the house favorites of the day was the panel on design. The startups and designers presented beautiful, simple, mindblowing ways to think about legal tech data. It becomes quite clear that the proof is in the pudding when you view the work of these designers, such as Margaret Hagan

8. Lawyers can re-invent law. It may be tempting to wait for changes to the field. But the conference showed that there are already a number of attorneys who are taking bold steps to reinvent the field. The final speaker of the day, Daniel Katz spoke to tangible ways that law school education can be tweaked to prepare the next generation of legal professionals—who have studied not only Torts but also computational law, informatics, and have actually worked with a team to pitch, code, validate, and launch a project leveraging law, tech, innovation, design with data and delivery.

Stanford Law’s Storify: A Look Back at Codex FutureLaw 2013

[View the story “A look back at CodeX FutureLaw 2013” on Storify]

Attending events and writing about them for Innov8Social planted a seed to organize an unstructured event on social innovation. Having been to StartUp Weekend a couple of times I noticed that a hackathon-style gathering can lead to great ideas, teamwork, and empowering ways to think bigger.

social innovation unconference hackathon at legalforce

 

the idea

After interviewing Nathan Pham from Goodjoe I noted his passion for bringing together people and creating new forums for ideas. I pitched him the idea for an unstructured gathering of social innovation thinkers and doers. He was (thankfully) enthusiastic and interested. We worked together to plan an informal “social innovation unconference” involving a relatively small group of people immersed in different disciplines, with a knack for creating impact.

social innovation unconference hackathon at legalforce

social innovation unconference hackathon at legalforceIt was a grand experiment to see what happens when you put people with different life/work experiences, who are passionate about creating a positive impact in a room together with the premise of identifying local problems and brainstorming solutions.

the first group

Our initial group included: a youth services professional, founder of social enterprise GoVoluntr, graphic designer with a passion for virtual currencies, a pediatrician with international relief experience, founder of social enterprise Goodjoe (Nathan), and founder of a blog on social innovation (myself).

the first venue

The event was held at the beautiful, hip storefront LegalForce BookFlip—which is a sizeable experiment of its own. The Founder of Trademarkia and LegalForce, Raj Abhyanker, founded the swanky concept store as a retail location for law. Nestled in the heart of bustling downtown Palo Alto, across from the new Apple Store, LegalForce is what you might imagine an Apple approach to law to look and feel like. Bold bursts of orange draw the eye and the modern, design-centered theme carries through to every corner of the shop. Attorneys are on hand to answer questions and there is an array of legal and leadership books available for browse and buy.

Raj and his team welcomed us to use their lower level conference room for our un-event. Against the creative backdrop, we sat down and begun to explain our backgrounds and what experiences have shaped our desire to use our careers to create change in addition to generating value.

a social innovation unconference/hackathon

It was a fascinating few hours. The congenial atmosphere led to an abundance of humor and joking, as well as serious dives into pressing issues.

At the end of the session we whiteboarded our options for issues to address, what we wanted from the experience, and solutions to begin exploring. One local issue that came up was the lack of youth resources in the county. While a number of organizations serve youth, there didn’t seem to be many centers or creative learning spaces for youth to seek mentorship, build skills, and just hang out.

social innovation unconference hackathon at legalforceThe idea to address the youth issue through building some kind of youth accelerator program emerged. It could be a way for professionals to mentor youth, and for youth to drive their learning and interests. We have informally continued exploring the idea, even ‘validate’ the concept by pitching it to local youth.

The day for me sparked something amazing. It was an opportunity to attend an event—and be transported from the audience to the speaker panel on stage. It was empowering to share some of the high-level concepts I have gleaned from writing and thinking about these issues for a long time with others who have also been exploring social innovation through their own lens.

We are hoping to test out this social innovation hackathon unconference concept out again in the near future.

 

Why is Social Enterprise Gaining Traction Now?

Fourteen states have passed new laws that recognize new legal structures for social enterprise. Social enterprise could account for as much as 3-5% of the US GDP. Based on the first ever census for social enterprise, the for-good, for-profit entities have created over 14K jobs and generate of $300M in revenue. And those are the conservative numbers.

So, why now?

 

city at twilight
It’s the Millennials.

The millennials, born in the early 1980’s up to the early 2000’s, are coming of age now and may have something to do with the social enterprise boom. They are finishing up college and graduate school, entering the workforce, getting married, having kids, starting companies—and doing things in their own distinct style.

Generational research weaves fascinating narratives of trends of individuals over time. By looking at a stretch of years, historical context, lifestyle norms, economic trends, and other factors you can actually begin to paint broad brushstrokes of what defines a generation and see how that generation, in turn, impact the ones that follow.

In case you find yourself skeptical look at these descriptions of past generations, compiled by Auburn Mountain Consumer Education. They each tell a story about the values, attributes, and motivations of people born during a range of years.

The Lost Generation (1880’s-1900)
The Greatest Generation (1900-1920’s)
Silent Generation (1920’s-1941)
Baby Boomers (1940’s-1950’s)
Generation Jones (1950’s-1960’s)
Generation X (1960’s-1980’s)
Millenials (1980’s-2000’s)

6 Attributes that Make Millennials Prone to Social Enterprise

There are specific characteristics of millenials that make them suited for impact-oriented enterprise. Here are a few of the

1. Connected & Collaborative. Millennials are remarkably collaborative. If it’s not worth doing together, it’s not worth doing–seems to be the attitude. Collaborative consumption has seen a huge lift as millennials not only lead the way with new peer-to-peer sharing startups but also use them extensively.

2. Open to Change. Millennials are not as bound by tradition. Their lives have been marked by arrays of traditions, cultures, and religions that have been introduced to them not only by their family, but by neighbors, friends, and through social networks. In any year a person can celebrate numerous world traditions, eat at restaurants that represent far-trotten regions of the world, and share laugh, photos, and tweets with people who are completely different from themselves. They don’t process the world through a single lens, because they’ve only ever seen it through multiple ones.

3. Self-Assured, Confident.  The millennials have each other, and need your approval a lot less than you think. They are not afraid to take a leap of faith or two, even if it means leaving stable structures such as college, jobs, or relationships. They are compelled to satisfy their inner desires—whether to achieve fame/fortune, to create lasting impact, or to do something that has never been done before.

4. Special. Millennials are the children of Baby Boomers and Generation X-ers. They were raised with the belief that they could do anything and to not compromise on their passion. Some may say that this has created a sense of entitlement in millennials and an unwillingness to have their identities tied to a job or position; however, millennials will argue that they feel that they (and everyone else) should be able to customize a work-life balance.

5. Risk-Takers. Not only are millennials not generally averse to risk, they actually seem to embrace it. They have a track road of actively innovating and re-thinking they way things are done and are largely driving emerging fields such as the sharing economy, impact investing, social enterprise, and re-thinking legal structures and policy-making.

6. Witness to the Great Recession. An interesting feature of the millennials is that they have not only been witness to the Great Recession, but have been deeply impacted by its effects. Many have had difficulties in finding their early-career jobs, have had to move back into their homes, and/or have seen their parents become uncertain about their retirement or future. The collapse of the financial system and market economy has taught millennials to be lean and to question the status quo for traditional structures for finance, economy, and medicine.

These features, taken together, give robust support as to why social enterprise and law/policy supporting social entrepreneurs has taken hold at this precise moment in time. Though a number of other factors play into the growth of social enterprise, the Millennial Generation cannot be overlooked as a driving force.

There are some excellent resources we came across in putting this post together. See below for a list of articles.

Millennials: Confident. Connected. Open to Change (Pew Research Social & Demographic Trends)
How Millennials Are Shaping The Future Of Social Entrepreneurship And Technology (Huffington Post)
Characteristics of the Millennial Generation (Millennials Go to College, by Neil Howe and William Strauss)
Generation Sell (The New York Times)
Social entrepreneurship and the millennial generation: all about altruism? (WhyDev)
Social Entrepreneurship Valued Among Millennials (University of Notre Dame)

The Post-Millennial Latest Generation…The Tactile Generation?

The future of social enterprise lies in the hands of the succeeding generation, literally. The post-millennial generation has grown up using smart devices and social networks. They will likely learn to text and browse the internet long before they learn to write in cursive.

And as touch is often related to feel. They will are also the first generation to truly feel some of the impacts of the influx of social media. Cyberbullying seems to already be reaching new highs while simultaneously stooping to unthinkable lows. The new generation is also seeing the impact of their parents and older siblings’ support for new equalities such as marriage equality. They may be the first generation to truly feel the lift of the inequality, prejudice, and stigma previously associated with coming out.

Additionally, they have been born into feeling the effects of guns. Murder-suicide, mass shootings, and epic debates on gun control are not a one-off in this post-millennial generation, they have becoming increasingly and alarming a reality.

For social enterprise, it is an uncertain reception with the newest generation—they already have a great deal on their plate. However, there hope that just as the differences between people of one sexual orientation or another may soon be lifted, that this new tactile generation will also be able to think beyond for-profit, non-profit, and hybrid businesses to create a more universal social enterprise that describes not only a single sector but the whole sector.

 

Innov8Social is excited to participate in a group blogging event hosted by Meeting of the Minds and urban accelerator Tumml.  It’s an opportunity to delve into a pressing issue from various vantage points, bodies of experience, and perspectives.city life, urban dwellThe question posed in this group blogging session is:




How is technology impacting social and economic divisions in cities?

 

 

5 Ways Mobile Technology Impacts the Socio-Econ Divisions in Cities

 
Cities, large and small, share certain characteristics such as increased population density, parking scarcity, perhaps some form of public transport, usually a higher cost of living, and often rely on sourcing food and water from surrounding areas.  While these characteristics can lead to classic have and have-nots, technology is emerging as a powerful leveling force that can blur socio-economic divisions in some ways, while creating new divisions in other ways.
This post focuses on the far reach and impact mobile technology has on urban areas.


1. Mobile technology provides access. Mobile technology enables access—to resources, news, information, knowledge, and commerce. With a smartphone, app, and network connectivity a person can pay a bill using banking apps, call another country using Skype, FaceTime or Google Talk, expand their vocabulary using edtech apps like Knowji, deposit and transfer funds, make purchases, put in a pickup order for dinner, participate in the sharing economy, share their location, and much more. These kinds of “concierge” services are not allocated based on the communities you engage with or level of wealth—but are broadly available if you know how to use the technology to reach them.

2. Mobile tech creates new channels of distributing products and services.  Gone are the days that a company must budget inordinate sums to reach audiences using traditional channels of media such as billboards, radio ads, television ads, newspaper ads to announce new products and services. Mobile access to social networking apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Yelp, YouTube and others along with mobile tech innovations such as geofencing and QR code reading can help alert you of nearby goods and services.

city life, urban dwellPerhaps most interestingly, you can more easily monetize that which was before non-monetizable. Before if you could pick someone’s dry cleaning, it would be hard to find a market and advertise your skill. But now, all that could be required is downloading the right app and creating a profile.

Mobile tech has the potential to really propel the sharing economy. Car-sharing, home-sharing, office-sharing, popup shops, and so many other resource-sharing services are able to be agile and efficient thanks to mobile tech apps. The instantaneous communication creates new platforms for decisions to be made quickly and payment to be tendered instantaneously.

3. Mobile tech provides new forms of payment. Not only does mobile tech offer new levels of access and channels to learn about products and services—but it gives new ways to pay for them too. There are traditional forms of payment (bank transfers, checking, and credit card), new forms (PayPal and mobile banking), and innovative alternative forms (Bit Coin, and other new alternative currencies).

Mobile technology is disrupting the way we pay for things—and creating more dynamic forms of payment. There are also new apps and websites that enable equitable bartering so you can exchange a block of your time and expertise in social media savvy for another’s time and know-how in home contracting work.

4. Mobile tech creates new barriers and concerns. While reducing traditional socio-economic barriers, mobile tech also creates new ones. Smartphones can be costly and the high monthly fees can be prohibitive. And the challenge is that there is no in-between without a smartphone or tablet an individual loses access to all of the benefits. Just as there are homeless shelters there may be a need for mobile tech centers for individuals to access and utilize mobile tech advances, learning, and apps.

Additionally, mobile technology creates new security concerns. A smarphone, logged into all of your email and social media accounts, that contains banking information, all of your contacts, and text message conversations is a prime target.

5. Mobile tech and a new kind of illiteracy. Innov8Social recently delved into issues of literacy in the U.S. and innovative tech responses to address the divide. Interestingly, mobile tech highlights a new kind of illiteracy–technological illiteracy. For the elderly or those otherwise not familiar with how to use mobile technology, the world could become more overwhelming and frustrating.

And with new updates being released regularly, even those who have a basic level of understanding, may feel inundated with advancing technology.

 
We are in a transformational time for mobile technology. Advances in science are letting us use mobile devices for new purposes—such as monitoring our health, managing our finances, communicating effectively, and participating in the broader economy. With that great potential comes cautious acceleration. We must guard our safety and privacy as we move forward and find new and better ways to address pressing urban issues.
 
AlphabetLook up literacy rates of countries around the globe and you’ll likely find a near-perfect score for the U.S. However, that 99 percentile assessment is glossing over some key issues regarding the ability of Americans to read, write, and comprehend—and the broad-ranging implications low literacy carries.

DoSomething.org published a list of 11 Facts About Literacy in America. Here are some of the most telling findings:

Findings on Literacy in America

There is a correlation between low literacy and jail time.   Over 65% of students who can’t read competently by the time they finish 4th grade will be in jail or on welfare at some point in their lives. Close to 85% of youth tried as juveniles are functionally illiterate. 7 out of 10 inmates in prison cannot read above a 4th grade level.
There is a correlation between low literacy and welfare. An estimated 75% of Americans receiving food stamps function at the two lowest levels of literacy.
Americans are generationally becoming less literate. In a study done in 2011, America was identified as the only free-market OECD country in which the current generation was less well-educated than the prior generation.
You can be literate, but functionally illiterate.  These statistics defy the 99% percentile of literacy. That is become literacy is a broad term that doesn’t account for literacy that is so basic that it is not functional in daily use.
Low healthcare literacy costs the U.S. millions (if not billions) of dollars annually.  Low health literacy relates to the ability of individuals to grasp basic health information, take medications according to prescriptions, and utilize the healthcare system. An estimated $70M to over $230B is lost annually due to low health literacy.

Literacy, Ripe for Social Innovation

Beginning to understand the truth about literacy calls for action. Social innovators are well-suited to utilize scarce resources to create meaningful impact in the realm of literacy. Though socio-economic conditions can impact the access to education a child or adult has to resources that teach literacy—literacy is, at its essence, a learned skill. It can be taught at any age.

Social Entrepreneurs Tackling the Literacy Divide

There are social entrepreneurs who are addressing this issue. Take a look at Innov8Social’s recent interview with one of the co-founders of Knowji–a mobile app specifically designed to address the country’s literacy divide.