The Global Social Innovators Forum 2010 gathered some of the most brilliant world leaders of innovation and social enterprise to tackle the challenges of the coming decades.
|PHOTO COURTESY OF GLOBAL SOCIAL INNOVATORS FORUM & DARREN CHIN|
Just in time to wrap up the first decade of the 21st century, the Global Social Innovators Forum 2010 held at the LASALLE College of the Arts from Dec. 3 to 5, 2010, fleshed out what it means to be ready to face the future, on both an individual and collective level.
The theme for this year—Future Readiness—is aimed at identifying the key drivers of the future; be it technology, knowledge, connectivity or people. Notable speakers included Brian Behlendorf, a technologist and entrepreneur widely regarded as the “father of the open source movement,” which champions the idea of collaborating on software programming for the greater good without any one party dominating resources, Calvin Chin, the co-founder of Qifang, China’s leading online student loan service and the first Chinese company recognized by the World Economic Forum as a “technology pioneer,” as well as Gregory F. Casagrande, the founder of SPBD Microfinance Network, a leading microfinance institution.
Through signature plenary sessions, participants were given the opportunity to tackle real-life problems, such as the integration of India’s rural and urban population and its transition from an agrarian society to an IT one. Interactivity was a key feature of the platforms; the Fire Pitch SPOTLIGHT!, for example, allows aspiring social entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas to potential partners.
One of the sessions by Zhang Yenming, an associate professor in the Policy and Leadership Studies Academic Group at Nanyang Technological University, revisited the brilliance of military strategist Sun Tzu in facing challenges and preparing for the unknown.
Borrowing from Sun Tzu’s approach that the military should only serve as a defense and not offence unless as a last resort, Zhang said that on the battlefield of commerce, strategic thinking and innovation always trump provocative and aggressive tactics—as in the case of American manufacturing company 3M. His parting thoughts were summarized into the three “H”s and three “A”s of leadership: Humility, Humanity, Humor, Approachability, Availability and Appreciation.
Besides innovation, collaboration was the other main thrust of this year’s theme. Sharing his experience in spearheading the NHIN Connect project, a health initiative fuelled by open source collaboration, Behlendorf showed how games can be designed to function as a medical tool. For example, a game can be used as a form of bio-feedback treatment where various physiological functions can be triggered and restored as a result of playing the game. The sharing was furthered reinforced by Ryohei Nakatsu, professor of the Interactive and Digital Media Institute at the National University of Singapore, who said that playing games have been discovered to simulate brain activity and enhance visual cognition and mental rotation skills.
The GSIF is a platform of the Social Innovation Park, a non-profit organization which incubates social entrepreneurs worldwide to bring positive innovations into societies and communities.
Log on to www.socialinnovationpark.org for more information.