This is an excerpt from an interview conducted by Shawn Parr which appeared on Fast Company's website on the 23 of March, 2012.
There has been a lot of talk about “intersections” lately--intersections of business and art, intersections of marketing and nature, intersections of technology and health, and so on. The Intersection Event, examines the intersection between business innovation and social change. This year’s event was set inside of Pixar Animation Studios, and next year’s is slated to be held in January at the Googleplex. But more interesting than their backdrops, which are arguably among the most creative in the country, is the question they’re trying to answer: “Can business innovation and social change effectively create a symbiotic relationship?” Randy Haykin, the founder of Googleplex, was interviewed to learn more about this interesting intersection.
SHAWN PARR: How do you define the intersection of innovation and social change?
RANDY HAYKIN: A great question because this idea of holding an event called “Intersection” seems to be hitting a chord with a lot of people--they recognize that business innovation and social change are related...but how? As a serial entrepreneur, teacher, and mentor to startups over the years, I’ve seen hundreds of examples of business innovation--in both large and small startups. In the past, much of this innovation has been targeted to making better, faster, cheaper products and services. More products, more companies, more investments equals more money. Unfortunately, in the past, innovation has not been focused on a better lifestyle, improved standard of living, healthy environment, or a safe world for billions of people who live below the poverty line around the world.
How do you think social innovation will influence the future?
We are already seeing signs of this. The first wave was the outsourcing of labor among countries in the 1980s. In the 1990s we began to see that the world was interconnected financially and via the Internet. We’ve transformed in the first decade of this century to a truly global economy, one in which companies do create and sell their products on a global scale and, unfortunately, one in which a “sneeze” in Greece affects the entire global financial scene. Today we are seeing that the effects of the Internet, communication technologies, and social media are transforming the way teams, companies, countries, and continents relate to one another. We are living in a time where there is the potential for rapid social change unlike any other in history.
What is the most important lesson you've learned?
I used to think “creativity” meant Picasso. What I now know is that some of the most creative energy on the planet is bundled up in the minds of our founders, entrepreneurs, and young leaders. Entrepreneurial spirit has positively affected the U.S. economy dramatically in the past 40 years, and I think it will drive economies in the future. Those parts of the world that apply new rules of how to intersect with these entrepreneurs, by providing the best environment for them to operate out of, will be the long-term growth economies of the 21st century.
Read this interview in full on Fast Company's website