We all want to make the world a better place in one way or another. We are receiving a great education, we put this knowledge to use solving real-world problems, and we are using the fact of being in a very privileged position to serve a good purpose. We are seven billion people ready to cooperate and collaborate in order to solve the world’s most biggest problems.
Even though the two words – *cooperation* and *collaboration* – sound familiar, the underlying actions are not the same. While cooperation is a*division of labour among participants*,  collaboration is a more elaborated form of *mutual engagement of participants in a coordinated effort to solve the problem together* and thus creates an additional value. In collaboration, a group is more than the sum of its parts, and synergy is the ability of a group to outperform even its best individual member.
If we want to harness the power of the crowd, how do we get all seven billion people on the same page? For this, we need to share a vision – a representation of something greater, a belief that gives us a purpose and a cause. It needs to be both flexible enough to meet the needs in different cultures, and specific enough to be applicable and understandable for all, striving for the same goal. Before we find answers for *how?* we do this and *what?* it is that we do in particular, we need to get a clear definition of our *why? – *why it is that we pursue certain goals, the purpose that drives our actions. It makes sure that even if the circumstances change and the execution of a project must be altered along the way, the eyes are still set on the bigger goal.
Asking *why* is about questioning everything we know. It’s about investigating the status quo, our habits, and normative perceptions. Why is it that we are so passionate about changing the world? It’s because we believe that it’s worth making the word a better place and that every one of us deserves it – not just because human dignity is the basis of Human Rights Law. Our belief is the reason we care, the reason we get out of bed in the morning.
Asking *how* we do something is a next logical step, it is a a manifestation of our purpose on a more concrete level. Answering the question*how* we follow our goals provides answers about good leadership, it’s set to inspire and motivate others to achieve the goals we set before. Putting our *how* to action is best done glocally – thinking globally, acting locally, and working in multidisciplinary teams. This model has been implemented by successful organizations like the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence to solve problems that affect us all – so-called wicked problems that do not have a right or wrong solution –, the ones we need to tackle together.
*What* we do can range from eradicating poverty and hunger to fighting for gender equality, but the process of defining**what we do in particular does not matter much, as the answers to our *what? *are a result of the systematic previous development. We can be creating schools, improving medical conditions to reduce child mortality, or be building an app for cleantech solutions in smart homes – and by the way, we*just happen* to be solving some of the world’s most basic, yet most critical problems.
About the author:
Juli Sikorska was a student speaker at the South American Business Forum 2014. She cares about human interactions in their environments, and combines insights from her studies in communication science, psychology, and computer science. She tries to incorporates design thinking into daily life in order to tackle the big problems around education and climate change. After SABF 2014, she joined the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence as a Visiting Student Researcher.
A new edition of the South American Business Forum is afoot: tomorrow, August 6th, *The Challenge of Inclusion* will be discussed with outstanding speakers and remarkable future leaders. Join the debate at this same blog.