How do we navigate a constantly changing world? How do we thrive, as individuals and as a society, when the institutions and systems that form our shared bedrock emerge, shift, and fade – or collapse – with breathtaking speed?
At the Ashoka Future Forum on May 30 and 31 at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., 400 social innovators, business entrepreneurs, and philanthropists are exploring this challenge through the lens of social innovation. For Ashoka, the answer is about creating an “everyone a changemaker world” where ever more people are equipped with the skills and the motivation to solve problems in their families, communities, and workplaces.
That transformation is fraught with disruption. For generations, much of what has happened in the world was determined by centralized, hierarchical institutions; by command-and-control leadership; and by information that flowed from a few experts to mostly passive audiences. Those systems and structures very arguably limited democracy, but they had the appeal of feeling secure and predictable.
Look at those institutions today. The news profession (the subject of the session entitled “Tomorrow’s Media”) is wrestling with the social and commercial limitations of its historic function – and beginning to embrace a new role that considers solutions and provides pathways to civic engagement. June Cohen, who brought TED Talks to life; Jonathan Wells, publisher of The Christian Science Monitor; and others discuss.
Likewise, organizations in every realm are moving toward complex, information-driven networks of networks, where decisions are made and shared rapidly across functions and geography. This change promises leaps in effectiveness and impact, but only if leaders apply very different skills and values (discussed in the session “Leadership for Tomorrow’s Organizations”). Ashoka CEO Bill Drayton, Susan Peters of General Electric, and Babson College President Leonard Schlesinger consider this new reality.