How can we accelerate this movement of business as a force for good?
A hint of what's possible can be seen on this OpenIDEO challenge. After all, over several hundred inspirations have already been posted by you, the community, in just a few weeks. Wikipedia, with its millions of articles in multiple languages, created by involving the public at large, points to where this can head.
So, how can we create a Wiki for Business World Benefit? Let's explore!
Allow anyone to nominate businesses that are innovating for world benefit by creating a new entry in the wiki for each company. If an entry for a particular business already exists, people can "second" nominations, and the running tally can help surface businesses that many folks are being inspired by.
- Refinement Update (inspired by Roger): There could also be a complementary resource section of the site devoted to cataloging all other prizes, awards, listings in this space.
A section of each company's wiki entry will be devoted to explaining its innovations, including how they were developed, lessons learned, impact created, who was involved, and advice for other company's seeking to follow these paths. One can also see various innovations across companies being distilled into broader innovation patterns, which could end up having their own wiki pages that link to the relevant companies/innovations ( sort of like the biomimicry taxonomy for AskNature.org or the inspiration themes on this challenge )
- Refinement Update (inspired by Kirk): Analytics (such as semantic analysis) could help support human judgement in identifying innovation patterns.
- Refinement Update (inspired by Beto): Innovation Patterns could also map across different themes (like geography, industry, value chain, benefit type, etc.), allowing the wiki to be browsed in different ways for reference & inspiration.
- Refinement Update (inspired by Chris): It's important to have sections/guidance that encourage people to share the journey, not just the success, in order to enable others to become effective change agents.
Another section will be devoted to listing impacts (positive & negative) being made by the business and it's innovations. Like Wikipedia, well sourced/referenced facts carry more weight. There are also many pre-existing sources from which this information can be pulled, from formal measurements like CSR reports, Impact Reporting & Investment Standards, & B-Corp Impact Reports, to user-generated indicators like Glassdoor for employee satisfaction. In some cases, partnerships could be setup with these sources, such as use of their information through an API in exchange for links back to their sites. There could also be a separate wiki page that specifically lists various resources for measurement: types of impact, how to measure, what pre-existing measurements are out there (curated/edited by the award organizers, but with section where everyone can make contributions).
- Refinement Update (inspired by Roger): Impact measurements should include world benefit AND financial returns.
This section would be devoted to telling the company's world benefit innovation stories in ways that are sticky, shareable, & inspiring, whether through visuals, videos, or other uploadable/linkable mediums. And I'm sure everyone who's nominated a company, would love to share these stories.
Can think of 3 groups off the top that will likely contribute to this wiki:
- Businesses: natural incentive to showcase their successes, and build customer/public goodwill, employee pride, reputation with investors, etc. For those who overly hoard information about what they've done because of competitive short-sightedness, they're probably not ready for recognition. The best companies that are innovating for world benefit, are not only building their businesses for world benefit, but are actively creating positive momentum across the industry.
- Students, Professors, & Researchers: they're often at the forefront of learning about new innovations, and this is a great way for them to share & apply what they're discovering, and build their reputation (in the academic & business community for professors; and for future career endeavors for students). Each wiki contributor has a personal profile that includes an expertise portfolio of their contributions and a contribution score. And there'll be leaderboards to showcase top contributors by geography, school, industry, etc.
- Consultants: A good way to demonstrate their expertise, and garner interest in their services to help businesses innovate for world benefit.
From Wiki to World Benefit Prize
Each year, a selection committee would select a business (or perhaps several in different categories), along with the team behind it, to be awarded the World Benefit Prize. The Prize would not only shine a spotlight that helps the business (customer/public goodwill, employee pride, reputation with investors, etc.), but it'd also include resources to be devoted to helping further the business innovation: best-in-class help to create sticky shareable stories, promoting & spreading them through media coverage (everything from Good Magazine to CNN), invitation & travel support to events like TED & Net Impact for the team to share their stories, and the development of advice/guides to help other businesses that are inspired by the winners' examples. Perhaps there could also be meet ups with fellow winners, for peer advising, knowledge sharing, & other collaboration possibilities.
- Refinement Update (inspired by James and Roger): Important to have an independent, trusted 3rd party/parties to validate content and flesh out stories. Then, for example, completely unverified content on the wiki could be outlined in red, partially verified content (such as those vetted by other community members) could be outlined in yellow, and content verified by an official trusted source could be outlined in green.
- Refinement Update (inspired by David): This could partner well with David's complementary newswire ideas
- Refinement Update (inspired by Ashley): What other existing communities & systems could we partner with? Wikipedia? Appropedia?
World Benefit PrizeX
At some point, perhaps there could also be more local &/or category-specific awards, sort of how TED has expanded into locally run TEDx events. By following certain standard guidelines, these independently organized manifestations broaden & deepen the reach & impact of, and contributes great content back to the parent organization. It's not about a few people in a central organization. It's about a shared purpose that everyone's invited to become involved in. You could even imagine these local organizations setting up workshops, incubators, etc. to directly help businesses move further down the path of innovating for world benefit.
Everyone's a Winner
Even companies that don't win the awards could benefit. There could be a leader board for companies based on how many nominations they receive, and perhaps different levels of World Benefit certification (e.g. Gold, Silver, Bronze) available based on the content (impact, enabling others, etc.) of their wiki entries. These certifications could be a great badge to help consumers, employees, investors, etc. choose good companies they're proud to be involved with: e.g. imagine these badges on Yelp profiles, used for creating world benefit investments indexes/funds, etc.
To start prototyping this, in addition to sketching/wireframing, we could actually relatively easily launch a free hosted Wiki on a Wiki Farm such as Wikia (same founder as Wikipedia, and uses same underlying engine) or Wet Paint Central (relatively easy to use). Initial learnings from this could then feed into the custom design & fork off one of the current Wiki Engine Codebases (some of which are open source, such as MediaWiki, the engine behind Wikipedia & Wikia).
- Refinement Update (inspired by Simon): this above section was added based on the thread started by Simon's comment.