Who’s your Grandaddy?
Since high school I have been fascinated by the life of Mohandas Gandhi, and he is the first person that comes to mind when I think about who I would really want to interview. Years ago my initial interest in him was a bit superficial, but I thought what he did was incredibly inspiring despite my lack of knowledge of social innovation. Knowing what I know, I would say that he is one of the true Grandaddys of social innovation.
If we want to talk about using innovative ideas to solve problems, influence peoples’ lives and create lasting change in society, I think he fits the mold pretty well. Personally I am super interested in the psychology of leadership, change and motivation and Gandhi must have had the magic because he was a master in these departments.
He tackled major social problems like civil rights, self-reliance, violence, oppression, religious intolerance, women’s rights and basic rights and liberties. He organized massive amounts of people to participate in non-violent protests but he also focused his efforts on the communities of his country. He was a man founded on principles of truth, which he used to bridge cultural and religious barriers to change behaviors, people, policies, governments and entire nations. Oh, and the world? I would say so. His methods of effecting change were extremely innovative; but not only did he have the ability to think creatively, he had the ability to lead and influence the people around him (Those sympathetic to his cause as well as those who were not).
I think one of the greatest challenges that we face today in social innovation is finding the right way to effect change across cultural and religious barriers. I would love to ask Gandhi about how he did this and what it took to do it successfully.