Anytime I get a Skype Video Call, I kind of marvel at how the world has changed. Think about it: if you’re like me you grew up with Star Trek (for me, it was TNG), the idea of being able to have a video call with someone was really sci-fi. Now so many of us do it everyday.
A few days back, I got a Skype Video Call from Sweden. It was from the head office of Ericsson – a global telecommunications company with over $30 billion dollars in revenue last year. By the time that call ended, I was left wondering at how the world has changed – but for different reasons.
Ericsson has given me a scholarship to come the United Nations Foundation’s Social Good Summit here in NYC. I’m here to attend the events as a VIP, listen to the speakers, and share my experiences as much as I can with you guys. Some of what I share will be posted on Ericsson’s official website.
Something like this would never have happened when my dad was my age. Back then, corporations (especially multi-billion dollar ones) would carefully craft, control, and curate their corporate message. Giving such control to a non-employee was corporate heresy back then. And, as you can see below, this kind of control didn’t always bring diversity into a corporation’s message:
But here I am. I wasn’t asked to tell you how great the company is – after all, they can’t fire me if they don’t like what I say. And they don’t care that I use an iPhone and that none of my friends own a Sony Ericsson phone – in fact, as I have learned, most of their business has nothing to do with making products for consumers like you and I to buy.
I’ve talked about how this is happening – albeit much more cautiously – in the non-profit world. Experts like Beth Kanter like to call this the “Networked Nonprofit”. But it turns out, for-profit corporations have been already doing this for a while. After all, with technology and social media, an individual’s voice can sometimes be louder than an institution’s.
I believe when it comes to solving some of the world’s most difficult problems – we need to imagine these problems complexly. And to imagine something complexly we need to have a diversity in conversation. That diversity means individuals, institutions (including NGOs), and international corporations have to work together, network together, and – hopefully – solve things together.