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Wiki for Business World Benefit (UPDATED: 11/16/2012)

The Fowler Center is off to a great start in cataloging innovations for world benefit: . How can we scale this up further, to identify, celebrate, & inspire business innovation for world benefit?

Photo of Vincent Cheng
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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!

Identifying Innovation

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.

Enabling Others

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 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.

Measuring Impact

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.

Inspiring Outwards

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.

Engaging Contributors

Can think of 3 groups off the top that will likely contribute to this wiki:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Let's Start!

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.

Note: using mockup with Wikipedia logo for illustrative purposes only here.

How does your concept celebrate, identify or inspire for-profit businesses that act as agents of world benefit?

This concept celebrates, identifies, and inspires business that act as agents of world benefit, as detailed in the previous section. To illustrate, here's an example of how one company might go through this process: Interface, the manufacture of sustainable modular carpets, is nominated by one of its distributors/customers (through creating an entry in the Wiki for Business World Benefit) for their newest innovation: a low-cost, natural floor covering that repels malaria-spreading mosquitos in the developing world. Then a student studying at the Fowler Center in Cleveland, interviews Interface for a research assignment on this new innovation, and posts his findings to the wiki. Next, a sustainability consultant in Tokyo fills in some of the technical & health impact details as a way to demonstrate her expertise to future clients. At this point, the Interface employees who the student has interviewed, correct some details on what they've learned and add some advice for others inspired by their innovation. Various impact measures are also automatically pulled in from sources like Interface's Sustainability Reporting & Glassdoor's Employee Reviews. Eventually, Interface is selected for the Annual Business World Benefit Prize. The team & innovation is profiled in a catchy video that then makes the rounds from CNN to Youtube; speaks at events like TED and the World Economic Forum; and creates a materials that ends up helping other companies that were inspired by their example, including leading to the development of natural soaps that provide daily mosquito-repelling protection by Unilever and Procter & Gamble. The Interface team also meets up with a peer group of previous prize winners including some Grameen Bank innovators, inspiring Interface to develop new ways to distribute & sell its new flooring to village groups and reach more people, based on Grameen Bank's experience with microfinance and alternative distribution channels. And the spotlight of the prize has led to new customers, a flood of job applications, and follow-on investment in Interface's growth.

How will your concept help us create or leverage stories of world benefit that are sticky and shareable?

Content for stories are generated by businesses & the community at large (anyone but likely to have a lot of students, professors, researchers, & consultants), stories are also created by businesses & community. In addition, businesses selected for awards gain resources devoted to helping further the business innovation: best-in-class help to create sticky shareable stories, promoting & spreading them through media coverage, 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.

What will it take to scale your concept so that its reach is global and widespread?

This concept leverages Wiki & other social media technologies, as well as a TEDx-like independently organized network of awards to scale through the public at large. It will be important to target key networks/groups to kickstart the public community & support, such as students, professors, researchers, consultants, business icons, media, etc.
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Team (5)

Ashley's profile
Ashley Jablow

Role added on team:

"Leveraging/Partnering with existing systems and communities like Wikipedia."

David's profile
David Cooperrider

Role added on team:

"Perceptive provocation on utilizing a newswire approach to spread stories."

James's profile
James Robertson

Role added on team:

"Importance of setting up proper frameworks and auditing mechanisms."

Vincent's profile
Simon's profile
Simon Fich

Role added on team:

"Suggested easy to begin implementing/prototyping by launching a wiki."

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Inspired by (117)

SFA, Sustainable Future Rating Agency
Dow Jones sustainability index
MBA Admissions: Invitation to a class of future sustainability leaders!
Omidyar Network Identifies and Invests in Businesses with the Greatest Social Benefit
Tech Awards: Recognizing Social Impact
Reputation management systems in online communities
Spotting network (like
TOP 100 Ranking of sustainable business every year.
FTSE4Good Index
Earning credit points all the way to the biennial Oscar's of  100 Most Admired Corporations !
Who ? Which are the businesses that have the power for influence ?
The Indus Entrepreneurs [TiE] : Entrepreneurship through mentoring, networking and education
Measuring Goodness - like BrandKarma does.
Axiom News: A company that harvests "stories of good" from organizations
The " Noble Prize" of Business
'The Power Of Ideas' by The Economic Times: Media encouraging Entrepreneurship
The Oscars of Businesses
Webby Awards
The X Prize
Spreading the word: 3BL Media and the CSR Minute
CNN Heroes - Everyday Heroes Changing the World
Identify the good habit, create a simple system that supports it, reward progress and feel great
Feed the Ego
Exchange ideas thru media
Good-b, a news service that reports on business doing good in the world
The Sustainability Top 100
Katerva Awards
Best Places To Work
Campo Abierto! Shortening distance between ideas and actions after a TEDx event
The Sustainable Business Awards (SBA)
Carrotmob - Recognizing and Rewarding Corporate Behavior
Leverage Programs Like Vote Solar that Measure Some Aspect of Corporate Sustainability
Recognising the Energy Savers in the Company
LIKE the Oscars isn't enough like it
Recognising small innovators & entrepreneurs
Social Return On Investment (SROI)
Good is...limiting water pollution.
You can change what you measure
Ideas man: IIM A Professor in quest for India's rural inventions
Olympics - Greatness Recognized Around the World rewards responsible companies by informing consumers
SKOLL FOUNDATION'S VISION - "Our vision is to live in a sustainable world of peace and prosperity."
Identifying innovative businesses
Yelp - Crowdsourcing the best
100% Cork
New Metrics of Sustainable Business
A National Museum of Businesses
Turning Point Innovations for a Sustainability+ Flourishing World
What does world benefit feel like? Maybe like Pride.
Good news network
This may be too old-school, but...
B Lab and B Corp Certification: Using Business as an Agent for Responsible Change
Micro to Macro
Lobby and Super PACs focused on big business
Social Networking Ignites the Occupy Movement
Popularity is Power
WikiLeaks Watchdog
The Wiki Ethos
The Space Race
1% for the Planet
In Transition 2.0, a movie on local social movements towards a sustainable future
Boycotts to ‘Buycotts’ to Promote Sustainability: Unilever and CarrotMob
B Corporations: Allowing Business to Benefit Others
Bringing current and future business leaders together for the common good
Bringing current and future business leaders together for the common good
Doing good is good business (
Purpose - 21st Century Movements
Can Shopping Save The World?
"My life is my message"
I'm a Fan!
KONY - The value to sway with storytelling
GAS: Ethical purchasing groups
How to start a movement
Social Enterprise App
Rock the Green Media: Music, TV and Sustainability
B Corp
Share the learning, share the knowledge, share the tools
Aspen First Movers - creating change from within
Inspire companies - appeal to self interest
Incentives are the key, right?
Our Heroes
National Innovation Foundation India (NIF)
True impact is more than truthy impact.
The Social Purpose Corportation
How I first heard of IDEO?
Business Mentoring : Think more as a family !
The Good Side of Bad
Walk of Fame
Good guide: scientifically evaluating businesses and brands
Free Online Learning
"All Businesses Considered" (UPDATED 11/17)
One Innovative Product For One Micro Financed Startup in Developing Country
Name and Frame
Good City Guides
Champions Within
Think Pods
Business Heroes Among Us
IWB 8000:2012 Innovations for World Benefit
Yelp for World Benefit
Say No To Impossible (Updated)
Building a Bridge to Social Responsibility
TEE: The Epic Enterprise - a world benefit innovation phenomenon
Advertising Innovations
Advertising Innovations
CORPeration Commons: central arena for sharing and awarding businesses generating sustainable value
Comics of Good: Comic book stories of world benefit
Motivate the Company by Rewarding the Investors
CCO: Chief Caring Officer
Businessweek- Best in Business Issue
SFA. Sustainable Future Rating Agency
Saving Our Common Ground
World Benefit Think Tank and Regionally Focused Incubation Centers
Prized in Every Search
Incentivizing Inter-Company Collaboration for World Benefit


Join the conversation:

Photo of DeletedUser


great project! How far it has been developed? I am a Brazilian entrepreneur and develoving a social media platform which is basically WIKIs for posting collaborative socially responsible projects and directories matching supply and demand of professionals and investors
The viable projects are developed colaboratively by the interested parties to the point of being turned into a Start-up which is forwarded to an accelerating company/organization
The wiki project is on very early stage and I would highly appreciate your inputs/assistance.
many thanks
Gilberto Ciro

Photo of Mike Hatrick

I like this idea, but it seems too complicated.

Instead of creating a new Wiki platform that you hope people will start to use why not just add the inputs into Wikipedia where people will naturally stumble upon them?

Photo of Simon Fich

Love the concept.

Perhaps I am oversimplifying the concept, but isn't it easy to implement i.e. why not just try and launch the wiki?

Photo of Vincent Cheng

You're right Simon.

And as I'm making this idea open to all, I'd love for others in the community to help prototype this by launching a wiki!

Simon, any suggested wiki options?

Photo of Simon Fich

Love this. Of course wikihow has a guide for 'how to start a wiki'

Sounds like you need some technical skills to do this. Maybe there are other more plug and play like solutions out there?

Photo of Vincent Cheng

For the full blown out WIki for World Benefit, it will likely need to be a custom fork of one of the many wiki engines out there.

However, for quick & dirty prototyping, a publicly hosted easy-to-use wiki farm would work to begin, such as (very WYSIWYG, what you see is what you get, ease-of-use) or (same founder as Wikipedia, and using the same underlying engine behind Wikipedia).

Anyone up for it? ;)

Photo of Meena Kadri

If you don't manage to prototype an actual wiki – perhaps a sketch /wireframe might be a good start?

Photo of Vincent Cheng

Even quicker & dirtier collaborative wiki prototyping through

Could start fleshing this out through an in-person or virtual workshop/hackathon with the Fowler Center

Photo of DeletedUser


This seems like a great idea. Even though you use the wikipedia logo, it seems to be an alternative to wikipedia and would imply a huge amount of data entry into yet another site.

Photo of DeletedUser


This is fantastic! This would such a revolution in the social business sphere, spreading so much awareness and knowledge of the new way of doing business. Thanks so much for your contribution, Vincent. Let's do this!

Photo of DeletedUser




Nicely done. I would think that as a part of this very creative outline that there would be a careful financial analysis as well which profile to others that this is a "both and" story. This means that the company's exceptional financial returns while generating a tsunami of world benefit through its business practices would be validated by a third party. Does this suggest to you that The Fowler Center for Sustainable Value which is situated in the Weatherhead School of Management is uniquely positioned through active collaborations with the school's finance, accounting, economics, marketing, operations, and organizational behavior departments to complete an assessment and tell a full business story on many levels for the grand recognition for world benefit winner?.

Can you see a Wiki-like section devoted entirely to all sustainability prizes and awards being a tracking and filtering system for the penultimate Business as an Agent of World Benefit Prize?


Photo of Vincent Cheng

Thanks Roger for your great builds!

You're absolutely right about the importance of demonstrating both world benefit and financial returns.

Really interesting idea for an independent third party, like The Fowler Center for Sustainable Value, to vet this for the final award selection, as well as help flesh out the full business story.

And yes, a wiki-like section devoted to all prizes, awards, etc. in this space would be very valuable.

Excited to gather all the fantastic thoughts emerging in the comments, for the next iteration of this concept.

Photo of DeletedUser


More than a definition of world benefit, the Wiki could be a working model of the very best businesses.

There's something great about the academic resources the Fowler Center has, Roger. I'd imagine that the Weatherhead school could go far in helping shape the Wiki into a venue that helps change agents look under-the-hood of successful operations. One of the hardest things facing change agents is an organizational disbelief that an alternative to their company's way of doing business is possible. More than a encyclopedia, the Wiki can help people zoom in and out of different parts of a business...and even better if it's kept up to reflect current operating conditions. Over time, with each winner, the Center could create a mapping tool (think google Earth like) that a change agent could dig into for reference and inspiration across many different industries.

Photo of Vincent Cheng

Inspiring vision of what this Wiki for World Benefit could be Beto.

Looks like I have my work cut out for me to refine this concept, based on everyone's great builds!

Photo of David Cooperrider

Vincent, i want to build on your idea. I am thinking about several things. The first is the shared hope to really advance--at a global level of learning and shift--a new image of business and society for the 21st century. This requires--as you point to--perhaps thousands and even millions of emerging "golden innovations"--innovations in business as an agent of world benefit, that when placed next to one another, actually help us see a new pattern. Along these lines, it is clear that there are many prizes emerging focusing on sustainability: the dairy industry prize for sustainability; the Northeast India Prize for Sustainability, Good Magazine's top 100; etc etc. And each one of these emerging prizes--local prizes, regional, industry, etc--is looking for ways to better broadcast the news and stories of their award nominees and recipients. So what if we created a Newswire--like PR Newswire services--and couple this with your wikipedia idea--to help award programs to "Empower your communications" "distribute your content over a large distribution network" "target traditional and social media distribution" and "engage your audiences"? The design goal would be to serve Award givers--to make their experience of sharing their stories easy, state of the art with images and easy video linkages, delightful, impactful, and viral. Think of all the press releases and stories pouring into the AP Newswire--being propelled outward to the high leverage sources and social media networks. So how about a newswire designed to help Award givers--magnify, amp up, speed the spread. I can also imagine an International Association of Sustainability Awards (IASA). And also an APP design to serve, support, and accentuate the work of Award givers!

If anything imaginable were possible, and there were no constraints whatesoever, how might we design a newswire and wiki that truly serves, inspires, and advances the Awards givers all over the world?

Photo of DeletedUser


Applause to Vincent for this fantastic concept! I love the Wiki connection, and, as Kirk mentioned, drawing from the wisdom of user communities. This also is really smart from a functioning aspect of the award mechanism because it would ease the burden off the Fowler Center staff to identify and vet real innovations.

Photo of Vincent Cheng

Thanks David and Beau!

David, I love your provocation on utilizing a newswire approach to spread stories.

Will have a think about this and refine the concept when I get the chance.

Could certainly use and would love your & the community's help in fleshing out what this newswire could be!

Photo of An Old Friend

I think it is particularly interesting how you combined the Wiki with the Award / Prize. Initially, I was going to suggest breaking them apart but I see the wisdom of combining the two (as long as mechanisms are in place to protect the integrity of the information, and separate the factual data from the opinions and selection processes). I think it is useful to look at other awards programs. J.D. Power and Associates is an excellent example of a respected program with several categories; I think we would want to encourage a diversity of awards to account for the complexity of recognizing diverse companies (geography, industry, size etc.). Also, regarding the newswire idea, it may make sense to adjust the frequency of the awards to ensure the production of regular and original content (media is a hungry beast). Nobel Prizes, though prestigious, are only handed out once a year; this would not be enough to make a newswire work. So, we have to be careful not to dilute the award's significance; perception is a delicate balance. Lastly (sorry for rambling), check out this website: Visually, it is very compelling, and I can imagine the awards page being similar.

Photo of David Cooperrider

Kirk, I love the reasons for optimism example. And let me combine that idea or tool with this new story sharing experience called quiki, coming soon to phones....

So if we combine the "lots of stories" newswire/wiki with a Nobel Like innovation every two or three years, we are in a place to really accelerate global learning.

Photo of David Cooperrider

I think a key is harnessing today's tools to make is easy for other celebration, recognition and sustainability award programs to broadcast their stories and for us to play a role to help lift up the new patterns of business and society for our future. It is kind of like a planetary time-lapse photography. Without the condensed time lapse photography you simply cannot see the new flower opening up. But with it many many people can see it. And then "possibility thinkers" can imagine beyond it. In that way we can see the future in the texture of the actual. In the patterns, not the single case. We might feed these thousands of stories into, as well as the more dramatic Nobel like examples, into a think tank--an Institute for Tomorrow.

On the story sharing side, we might imagine a continuum for sharing them from documentaries (fairly expensive, slow, and in the hands of professional movie makers) to micro-documentaries (see to nano-documentaries ( like it is still moving, image and narrative rich, and easily democratic. Also cheap. And then we create the pattern formation format like kirks highlighting of reasons for

Photo of DeletedUser


Superb idea. The open platform approach provides the broad participation and collective intelligence needed to catalyze the kind of transformation in business and society that we aspire to. It raises the possibility that our project will be so much more than a prize/award, that it can embrace all the other prize/award initiatives in the space of business as an agent of world benefit, and that the sum total of the business efforts can be scaled to the magnitude of global challenges. The potential to scale impact is essential, otherwise we are rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
One minor but significant design point: It will be important for businesses (and others) who contribute to the wiki to tell their journey and not only to showcase their successes.
In the last two decades one of the limitations of the corporate sustainability movement has been too much emphasis on what companies achieved ("look how sustainable we are!) and not enough on what got them there, including the financial, organizational, and stakeholders challenges and how they overcame them. Audiences will need to have better insights into what enables businesses to be agents of world benefit so that they can take actions in their own organizations

Photo of Vincent Cheng

Thanks Chris! Glad that we're both seeing the potential for broad participation to scale impact.

And agreed on your key point about the importance of sharing the journey, not just the success, in order to enable others to become effective change agents.

The collective intelligence that's emerging in comments is emphasizing this as well: e.g. see Kirk's comment on recording the process: .

Will rev on the concept based on your insights.

Photo of An Old Friend

The crowd sourcing model is great, Vincent, drawing from the wisdom of user communities. As you pointed out, there is marketing and educational value that serve to motivate participants. Another thing to consider is using analytics to detect patterns. I think it is key for entries to fully record the process so that folks can learn from one another. Sometimes, to figure out what works, we have to understand what doesn't. Is it any wonder that, for example, the Wright Brothers and Thomas Edison recorded each iteration? In science books, only the end result (law or theorem) is published. This platform is ideal for thinking about, and recording, process.

Photo of Vincent Cheng

Thanks Kirk!

Great builds on:

1) Using Analysis to Detect Patterns: there will always need to be the human touch for truly making sense of patterns, but it can be supported & scaffolded to scale with tools like semantic analysis

2) Recording Process: true. In this case, process can be recorded on several levels: a) encouraging the submission of companies with stories of progress--not perfection, which really doesn't exist, b) finding ways, particularly in the advice/tips, to surface the true iterative challenges rather than just final results, & c) wiki's by their very nature record the process of their own development in their revision histories.

Will incorporate your great ideas into the concept when I get a chance, and have added you to the virtual team.

Photo of OpenIDEO

Congrats on this post being today's onsite Featured Concept!