Paul S. Mason, president and CEO of independent broadcaster and media organization Link TV, shares insights about the value of social innovation in addressing some of the world’s toughest global poverty challenges. Link TV’s ViewChange project collaborated with McKinsey & Company’s Social Sector Office and Huffington Post Impact to spotlight promising innovations in the half-hour documentary “ViewChange: Unleashing Innovation.”
Turning on a light, warming a house, and using an appliance are activities that most of us take for granted. But in many parts of the developing world, access to electricity is scarce. Enter “sOccket,” a soccer ball that harnesses the kinetic energy of play to generate electricity. When kicked, it creates energy that can be stored and then used later to charge a battery, sterilize water or light a room.
SOccket has received a lot of attention recently – from the likes of Aneesh Chopra, the first White House chief technology officer, to former President Bill Clinton, who called sOccket “quite extraordinary.” The attention isn’t surprising – the invention is clever, it’s creative, it’s relatively cheap, and it takes on one of the biggest challenges in the developing world.
The soCcket itself is unique, but it’s one of a growing number of projects with a similar goal: tackling the world’s toughest problems from surprising and inventive new angles. The approach is known as “social innovation,” a way of thinking that draws upon the expertise, entrepreneurial spirit and commitment of many sectors working together – nonprofit, private, government – with truly unexpected ways of doing business.
This concept is the spotlight of “ViewChange: Unleashing Innovation,” a new documentary half-hour special produced by Link TV’s ViewChange project, in collaboration with McKinsey & Company’s Social Sector Office and Huffington Post Impact. The show premieres TODAY, March 28, at 11 a.m. EST on HuffingtonPost.com (and again on www.ViewChange.org on March 29, and on Link TV on Wednesday, March 28 at 8 p.m. PT/11 p.m. ET and again on Friday, March 30 at 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET.).
From the sOccket to bomb-sniffing rats, the program showcases the unexpected ways that innovators are working together to create better lives – and includes interviews with some thought-provoking innovators, from ONE’s chairman, Tom Freston, to McKinsey’s Lynn Taliento, to Dr. Dave Kilcullen, the counterinsurgency strategist who uses design thinking to solve some of the deeply-entrenched challenges in communities around the world working hard to re-build after conflict.
The conversation about social innovation has been happening for a while, and we think of this project as doing our part to elevate that conversation. Over the past few years, Link TV’s ViewChange project has been curating documentary and other video stories from around the world that show progress in solving some of the most daunting challenges in global development and poverty, from HIV to maternal health to hunger. Why? Because we believe – along with many others – that the “progress stories” are not told as much as the “challenge stories” of famine and disease. Partnerships with groups like McKinsey, Huffington Post Impact, ONE, and many others, demonstrate our own nod toward innovation and collaboration. We all believe that elevating these stories of progress – and finding new ways to bring this conversation to more people – is a step toward lasting change.