Building human, social enterprises: An organizer’s view

Building human, social enterprises: An organizer's view
Editor’s note: As part of GreenBiz’s focus on covering the space where technology and business meet to create the next generation of sustainability innovations, we are publishing a series of postcards from the Reinvent Business hackathon held on June 9-10 in San Francisco. The event, supported by the World Economic Forum, brought together an eclectic group from the design, tech, academic and business worlds. Their task: to develop tools with potential to “transform business from within.” This postcard comes from Liz Maw, the CEO of Net Impact. Read the first hackathon postcard submitted by BSR’s Ted Howes, who wrote from a judge’s perspective.The second postcard was sent in by Dan Riegel, a developer who works at EnergyHub in New York City, and the third postcard came from judge Liz Maw, CEO of Net Impact.

We set out to tackle business challenges in a new and innovative way. We wanted to imagine, design and build a more human and social enterprise.

Those were the goals of LRN and GreenOrder when we teamed with frog to create the Reinvent Business hackathon. Two months, nine partners, and over 200 applications later, we were ready. We accepted 150 participants from around the world. Some came from as far away Romania, Mozambique, and New Zealand.

Sign-in at the hackathon began at 8 a.m. on a sunny Saturday in San Francisco. By 7:30 a.m. there was already a line at the door. The energy, excitement, and engagement of the participants were remarkable and would be a mainstay throughout the weekend.

The official program kicked off with a welcome from Tim Leberecht of frog and a speech by Dov Seidman ofLRN. Dov framed the hackathon challenge and stressed the urgency of creating more businesses that maximize human potential.

Next, the frog team facilitated an immersion activity to help participants translate the broad challenge of reinventing business into specific opportunity areas. The themes of the immersion activity: how we collaborate, support, relate, decide, and demonstrate results that fulfill society’s needs through business-based solutions.

The teams then got to work brainstorming, sketching, designing, and coding their concepts. Working against the clock, they ate at their workstations, sought advice from LRN and frog mentors and tested their ideas during open sessions with the judges.

At the end of an intense two days in the crowded San Francisco frog studio, all 20 teams presented their final concepts to the jury. Imagine having just three minutes to explain a breakthrough idea. That’s just what these teams were challenged to do.

The three winning concepts impressed the jury with their originality, feasibility and potential for positive impact on business and society.

First place went to a concept called Skill Cloud, a web-based platform that aggregates employee skills and passions to allow greater engagement and collaboration in the workplace. It’s based on the idea that people should be able to bring their complete selves to work — and that when they do, both people and their companies benefit.

Loopool, a tool that that helps companies evolve in the same way as open source technology, came in second place. Loopool gauges the health of the company by tracking what it calls “bugs.” Consumers can report a problem — a bug — and the company can see how quickly the problem is addressed. It’s rooted in research showing that company responsiveness is the most accurate predictor of business longevity.

A concept called Sentimetric, billed as a sort of Google analytics for employee emotions, came in third. Sentimetric is a tool to measure the return on happiness at a company based on the idea that happy employees — which are more productive and healthy  — determines how productive the company is overall.

The winning teams will all receive free mentoring from frog and LRN to further refine their concepts.

While the hackathon was exhausting and exhilarating, it was inspiring. Although it was a competition, one wouldn’t have suspected this after observing the level of energy, commitment, and spirit of collaboration among the participants.

I left with an immense feeling of gratitude—for our partners, our judges and our participants—as well as hope for what could be accomplished when people come together to change business for the better.

Source / Fuente: Greenbiz.com

Author / Autor: Amanda Carufel

Date / Fecha: 19/06/12

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