The Mighty Five: September.
A cross-sector curation of the month’s best social impact listens & reads
We read and listen to a lot around here. Articles, journals, case studies, podcasts – anything that provides nuggets of insight to fuel our mission and work. And we distill them down to our very top five in a regular monthly roundup. We hope you gain as much from reading it as we do from curating it.
The global population PIN number.
Gapminder.org | 2min
When Bill Gates and Barack Obama deem the same book a “must read”, chances are it’s worthwhile. After devouring Factfulness ourselves, we concur. Besides being a primer on how to form better fact-based opinions and decisions, it’s chock-full of illuminating insights that could benefit any reader. One such nugget was Rosling’s simple explanation of the distribution and growth curve for the global population. In billions, the world’s PIN number is 1114: 1B people in the Americas, 1B in Europe, 1B in Africa, and 4B in Asia. By the turn of the next century, the PIN will be 1145! What potential for this continent where we focus, and what an easy way to challenge the tendency toward a western-centric worldview.
Taking aim at design thinking.
Harvard Business Review | 11min
Back in 2008, the Harvard Business Review published IDEO founder Tim Brown on a then-new approach to problem-solving: design thinking. This month, HBR released a provocative piece declaring the methodology “fundamentally conservative”, arguing that when you privilege the point of view of a single designer, solutions are skewed toward her perspective. Intrigued, we dug into the conversation, uncovering a talk given by a Pentagram partner. She pulls no punches, positing that design thinking embodies our cultural obsession with prescription, and that true innovation happens with the cross-pollination of disciplines. It’s overly simplistic to abandon design thinking entirely, but an interesting continuation of a topic we explored last month: true innovation is found through deviant thinking, sparked when differences collide.
Agencies of the future.
Win Without Pitching | 15min
How can advertising and marketing firms compete with the ongoing commoditization of their services? Blair Enns says the answer is found in the agency of the future: one built around access, mobility, and the entrepreneurial mindset. And if the “first casualty in the pursuit of efficiencies is innovation,” then a highly collaborative team of specialists oriented around a positive-sum mind vs. a zero-sum competition bears the promise of an exciting future. Of course, this doesn’t just apply to agencies. We’re constantly inspired by collaborative models across the social sector, embodied so brilliantly by organizations like STiR Education and forums like Opportunity Collaboration.
The new entrepreneurial generation.
Inc. | 3min
As marketers and brand strategists, we pay close attention to demographic research and generational preferences and shifts. But understanding the newest workforce – Gen Z – is relevant for any sector. Born in 1996 and after, they enter the workforce this year and we’re fascinated by three key trends: their retreat from social media platforms, desire for value-driven content, and strong entrepreneurial spirit. Here’s hoping for a fruitful fusion of this generation’s desire to start businesses with the increased attention paid to social entrepreneurship across the globe.
Pushing ethical fashion into the mainstream.
Fast Company | 11min
We love social enterprises as much as the next idealistic person working in development does. And so we appreciated this Fast Company guide on how to buy ethical clothing on a budget. There are countless brands out there creating stylish, quality fashion using sustainable practices and paying fair wages. The price points aren’t always accessible – a good reminder to cull your purchases to “fewer, better”. But it’s also a reality check that true and lasting change will only come when “impact at problem-solving levels of scale doesn’t come from one-off businesses”.
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