This past weekend I read the book BOLD by Diamandis and Kotler (February 2015). In the prequel to BOLD Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think, four formidable emerging forces—exponential technologies, the DIY innovator, technophilanthropists and the rising billion were discussed as reasons why we would be able to solve the biggest challenges facing the world today. BOLD first talks about the strategies to make it happen by presenting the exponential technologies of today such as 3D printing, artificial intelligence, robotics, networks and sensors, and synthetic biology.
The second part of BOLD talks about the mental abilities needed to execute the bold strategies by way of lessons from today’s innovators such as Larry Page, Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos, results of Flow Genome project, as well as Diamandis’s experience in building his numerous companies. The third part lays out today’s connected world and the capabilities it affords for those who think bold, such as the crowd sourcing, crowd funding etc.
This past week, I saw the award winning documentary Sustainable by Matt Wechsler and Annie Speicher (June 2016). Sustainable is “about the land, the people who work it and what must be done to sustain it for future generations”. It takes us through the devastating effects industrial agriculture has had on the land, the farmers, and our environment. The film’s tenet is: “The future of our food system determines the future of mankind”. In hindsight, would we have done everything the same way we did with industrial agriculture? I am sure those who were at the dawn of industrial agriculture felt they were embarking on a journey that is leveraging “exponential” technology, with a great outcome for future generations.
And then, today I saw a 2013 TED talk by Michael Porter: The case for letting business solve social problems, Porter says:
“Business does not profit from causing social problems, actually not in any fundamental sense. That’s a very simplistic view. The deeper we get into these issues, the more we start to understand that actually business profits from solving social problems. That’s where the real profit comes. Let’s take pollution. We’ve learned today that actually reducing pollution and emissions is generating profit. It saves money. It makes the business more productive and efficient. It doesn’t waste resources.”
Connecting the dots, my take away is this: We are living in a truly phenomenal age where everyone has the power to think & act BOLD. However, we should be humble enough to remember that we don’t fully understand or comprehend the impact of all bold ideas and executing on them, especially thinking about the world that can be sustained, and is better for the generations to come. For example, if we look at Reinventing Food which includes Bioprinting of Meat, Genetically Engineered Crops (GMOs), Vertical Farming, Plant-Based Meat Alternatives, how much do we know about the side effects of implementing them? Solving today’s social problems must not compromise the world for the future generations. Technophilanthropists thinking about a bold venture should think about the broader picture of social consequences.
In September 2015, UN General Assembly adopted a general resolution, with these 17 sustainable development goals:
In his HBR article How Companies Can Champion Sustainable Development, Bhaskar Chakravorti proposes three steps for how companies can make progress against these goals in three steps. These steps can be adapted by funding entities and entrepreneurs to keep us moving towards the sustainability goals.
In conclusion, entrepreneurs should think & act BOLD. But do it such a way that we are able to provide SUSTAINABLE solutions for solving SOCIAL PROBLEMS.
This post first appeared in LinkedIn on March 14, 2017.