Technological developments over the past centuries have helped humans reign supreme on Earth. We have been able to tame natural habitats to suit our needs, dominate over all other animal species.
We are also starting to develop our own versions of organic material as we play around with DNA – the building blocks of life.
“The only constant in life is change”. ~ Heraclitus.
The pace of technology acceleration has been increasing and looks like it will continue to increase.
Can you imagine where we will be in 50 years or 100 years from now?
The world will look very different then and humans won’t be bound by it. We would have expanded our exploration beyond earth and set up settlements in our neighboring planets.
As long as we don’t jeopardize our own progress through some global catastrophe, it would be astonishing to be part of the next phase of evolution.
Many people living today, especially the youth, will be able to witness, for the first time in history, a new version of humans. A version that is stronger, smarter, and more robust as we take the natural evolution process to the next stage.
Humanity can achieve a bright future – living happily and in harmony with our natural habitats. As long as we make sure that humanity, as a whole, benefits from the progress.
And as long as we don’t destroy our home – Earth before we have achieved that.
They are a collection of 17 interlinked global goals designed to be a ‘blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all’ and are intended to be achieved by the year 2030.
The SDGs are anticipated to generate at least US$12 trillion worth of market opportunities by 2030 – UN
These goals were developed after a realization that global challenges can’t be addressed by one country alone nor by governments alone.
Everyone needs to work together to find global solutions to global problems – such as Climate Change, Pollution and Inequality amongst others.
The COVID-19 outbreak was another pressing example of how there isn’t a single country or population that can isolate itself from such global challenges.
We all need to work together to address these global challenges.
It also demonstrated how when we come together through collective action and human ingenuity, we can find solutions and breakthroughs in record time. That was the case with the record speed at which a COVID-19 vaccine was developed.
Global Action requires Global Empowerment
To develop global action, we need everyone around the world to participate in humanity’s progress. Governments can’t do it alone. Businesses and citizens need to be involved too.
We also can’t leave people behind!
Everyone should be involved and have a collective stake in progress. History has shown us time and time again that when a group of people is left disfranchised with no clear path to a dignified life, it will result in trouble.
On the other hand, we also need everyone’s input to come up with innovative solutions to the various challenges we face as we go along.
The process of “crowd-sourcing” of ideas or “open-innovation” has been shown to be a highly effective way to innovate and come up with solutions.
This was very hard to do a few decades ago but now given that most of the world is connected and interconnected, it’s easier to engage the global population, harness their creative talent and empower them along the way.
However, this empowerment approach requires some changes to our normal way of doing things.
Moving From Education to Empowerment
We used to depend on education as the primary method to lift people out of poverty and engage them in modern society.
While education is still an essential gateway for people to get to a successful career, it’s not working as well as it should. The COVID-19 disruption of the education sector made things even worse.
“If a student loses about a third of a school year of learning, this is associated with an income loss of about 3% on average over the entire working life” – Hanushek and Woessmann
The education sector that was built to serve the industrial revolution, needs to be re-imagined to better serve our current and future needs.
Instead of focusing on education with its bureaucratic system and theoretical testing model, we need to evolve it to a much more practical model.
Real-World Education – supports Empowerment
We need to focus on mastery of skills and not on standardization of students based on age.
We need to empower anyone to learn at any time and apply what they have learned. This will help them progress in their work. At any stage of their life.
“Shorter courses, ROI-oriented career choices and a switch to lifelong learning will power new business models in education” – WEF
When people get access to practical learning just in time to help them with what they are doing, we are empowering them then and there. Doing so motivates them to learn more and take charge of their own development.
This is something that is becoming ever more critical in today’s world since instead of the education system being front-loaded – i.e., we learn in the first parts of our life – learning and development should be life-long tasks.
As technology changes jobs, new skills should be developed continuously to catch up with what the market requires.
Businesses and governments have an interest in this process as do the individuals themselves. In doing so, more opportunities are created for the economy offering even more jobs for people.
Moving From “Doing Good” to Empowerment
On the other hand, many businesses have been engaged in giving back to their communities through contributions to charities, volunteering work, or various events.
For those purposes, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) functions were set up as a “nice to have” department used more for public relations purposes. Many companies didn’t focus on measuring impact or aligning to the companies’ performance metrics.
Shared value is not social responsibility, philanthropy, or even sustainability, but a new way to achieve economic success. It is not on the margin of what companies do but at the center. – Professor Michael Porter
Customers, investors, and governments are forcing businesses to take a deeper look at their ESG (Environment, Social and Corporate Governance) metrics.
Doing so helps these businesses get more business, more investment, and adds more diversity to their teams – all resulting in better performance.
The next generation of businesses will empower their teams, partners, stakeholders, and communities to help in delivering better ESG metrics. In 2007, potential.com developed a framework to enable companies to business to become ready for the next generation of business (NGB) summarised in the image below.
These smart businesses will perform better, provide a better place to work, and will be rewarded with business from appreciative customers and governments.
Empowerment at Scale
What has been missing to date is an efficient way to bring the benefits of empowerment to communities, their businesses and to align them to government agendas and the SDGs.
Businesses should weave sustainability into their core business, so it touches each business function.
Some of the sustainability activities will not produce short term business results, but they would guarantee long term prosperity and continuity. And all this can be done without a significant investment of time and money on the company.
For example, women influence up to 70% of all purchasing and directly decide on 80% of household purchases. Source: Forbes
So if businesses create women empowerment programs – such as Hadafi – they can help women in realizing their potential while also building brand value with this important segment.
Similarly, youth empowerment programs are critical for companies and governments, since as youth get better future opportunities, they would be able to buy more and pay more taxes, in the long run, to help in their country’s development.
Entrepreneurship development and future job skills are critical for giving youth, unemployed, and retired individuals an opportunity to earn an income working in areas that they are passionate about. This again creates more opportunities for the market as a whole and reduces the burden on governments.
This kind of empowerment initiative needs to work at scale to be able to make an impact. They also need to be done in cost-effective ways to make business sense. They need to make use of technology to make that happen.
The next generation of learning systems – Empowerment Platforms
When MOOCs (Massive online open courseware) platforms sprung to life over a decade ago, there was euphoria as everyone thought that these systems would be more accessible to the masses than the traditional higher education system.
They were also thought to provide an alternative to the uninspiring e-learning experiences employees were used to or the in-efficient face to face training workshops.
It became clear that most of the MOOC users were those who were already doing well in the academic system – not the masses. It also proved to be difficult to have even the most enthusiastic learners complete their courses – with course completion rates hovering at 10%.
The problem was that most MOOCs just take the physical experience and put it online. So instead of watching a lecture in a classroom or workshop, you can now watch it online.
But while you may be able to listen through a lecture – even boring ones – in a classroom setting, it’s much harder to stick to anything over a few minutes on your phone or laptop.
The MOOCs were effectively competing against Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and Netflix. Very few online lecturers can win against such formidable entertainers.
So even though these new learning management systems provided convenience, access, and reach, they really made a huge difference. It’s because people, in general, are not interested in learning per se – they are interested in applying new learning.
Would you be interested in reading about how to ride a bike or would you rather actually ride one? Now if we can empower you to learn how to ride that bike and actually get you riding it – that’s cool.
Welcome to the empowerment platform!
What is an empowerment platform?
An empowerment platform is a cross between a learning management system and a marketing platform.
It starts its life as a marketing platform, designed to speak to a specific target audience with a specific call for action resulting in a clear outcome that benefits the users in that target audience.
The re-imagined learning experience in an empowerment platform
Once the target audience engages with the platform, they enter a re-imagined learning experience that is:
Short and straight to the point
Practical and easy to apply at every couple of minutes
Exciting with points and badges to gain at every interaction
Personalized in-depth learning available to those that need it
Competitive allowing great talent to be identified and nurtured further
An empowerment platform also brings together the various stakeholders that can help in the empowerment process.
These stakeholders could be involved in volunteering efforts, judging to identify the best talent, and sharing their expertise through coaching and mentoring.
This holistic approach allows the achievement of tangible outcomes. It also allows local communities to work together on solving local challenges so that everyone is working toward the same goals.
What kind of global challenges do empowerment platforms address?
The use cases for empowerment programs are endless. However, so that they have the most impact on the business or country, their focus can align the strategic objectives of a business or country.
As an example, a country’s objective could be to create jobs, improve its ease of doing business or come up with innovations in a strategic sector.
In its “Future of Jobs Report 2020,” the World Economic Forum estimates that 85 million jobs will be displaced while 97 million new jobs will be created across 26 countries by 2025.
From a business perspective, priority could be given to projects that are strategically aligned to the local governments that they are operating in or could empower their target clients by building brand value and creating leads.
Empowerment platform use cases
Here are some of the use cases we have worked on over the years.
Startup and Small Business development programs
Startup and Small Business development programs that aim to empower entrepreneurs helping them start and grow their businesses.
Given that in most economies startups and SMEs contribute to more than 50% of employment and a considerable amount to economic activities, governments and brands have an interest in launching such initiatives.
Future Job Skills development aims to develop new skills that are required in the job market including entrepreneurship. Schools and Universities empower their students through such programs.
Brands use these programs to identify talent that they can hire or contract for various gigs. Our Youth Development Program shows how the empowerment platform is used in such scenarios.
Open Innovation programs
Open Innovation programs that aim to identify innovative solutions from the community to challenges that governments or brands are facing. The challenges could then be converted into market opportunities.
The empowerment platform allows the development of the community at scale around these important areas. In doing so, it brings to the surface the best talent and ideas. These could then be supported to be taken to the next level.
Sustainable Development practices that are aligned to the UN SDGs and to the companies and governments’ local priorities. Companies could use the empowerment platform to ensure that their supply chains are following sustainable best practices and code of conduct while also certifying and rewarding the best companies that demonstrate their sustainable actions.
Private-Public Partnerships (PPPs) to provide large scale certification on important safety, security, and compliance that businesses or individuals need to go through.
By using the empowerment platform model, the general public can be developed at scale in a simple and effective way empowering them to do their job better.
Underprivileged or underserved communities’ empowerment
Underprivileged or underserved communities’ empowerment could be empowered through such platforms to help them with financial literacy – as Bank Muscat is doing, or getting people into a paid freelancing job which would help them launch their gig profiles or helping them with launching their first business.
The applications of empowerment platforms are endless as are their benefits to the community.
Who are the stakeholders that can lead these empowerment initiatives?
Every professional can be involved in the empowerment process and can take charge of it since it benefits their core activities. Here are some functions within the corporate and government sector that have most to gain:
CSR and Marketing teams can make use of empowerment platforms to help them in achieving their brand building and social impact goals. The empowerment platform allows the engagement with prospects and the community, collecting valuable insights and aligning with business objectives.
Sales and Channel Development teams could launch programs that educate the sales teams on new offerings, how they benefit their clients and in the process empower them to sell more. These same programs could have a lead generation component to them through the empowerment and education of prospects.
HR and L&D teams can use empowerment platforms to launch internal open innovation programs that empower employees to learn and engage on important topics for the business
NGOs, Incubators, and Government bodies who are interested in supporting innovation, startups and SMEs in a country. Empowerment platforms allow the large-scale development of the community on topics such as innovation and entrepreneurship while also shortlisting the best talent who can get further support – such as funding, mentorship or participation in acceleration programs.
Schools, Universities, and the Education sector can complement the traditional learning curriculum with real-world future job skills and entrepreneurship education.
What are the components of a good empowerment platform?
An effective empowerment platform should be simple to set up and customize to help achieve the specific objectives in mind. It should be designed as a “Plug and Play” system that can be up and running in a few weeks and can be tweaked and adjusted as usage data and interactions come up.
Launching the empowerment activities in cycles of 6 months or a year allows enough time for people to know about the initiative. Thus, it also allows each cycle to build on the learning and effort of the previous cycle. A 3 to 5-year overall plan is a good time to be able to create measurable and long-lasting impact.
Empowerment Platform Features
Some of the features of a good empowerment platform include:
Easy to set up and launch, starting small and being able to easily scale to millions of users
Includes data collection, tracking, and analytics to help in perfecting user experiences and results
Being able to identify through the program the best talent and rewarding that talent with additional support and incentives
Having an automated and in-person unbiased judging process embedded into the platform
Designing your next empowerment program
Potential.com has been rolling out empowerment programs for over 15 years, experimenting with hundreds of programs and millions of users.
We designed and delivered most of these programs for corporate and government clients with specific objectives and outcomes. And we provided all of them for free to the community.
Through that process of experimentation, we have fine-tuned our empowerment platform to deliver on a great user experience. Thus, we drive the users toward the various outcomes.
Customizing your empowerment platform
Here are a few important points to take into account when customizing your empowerment platform:
Identify a clear target audience that you want to focus on in the coming 6 months – such as youth, women, underprivileged communities, refugees, new entrepreneurs, etc..
Identify the most important geographical region for your work – such as a city, country or region
Define what would the success metrics looks like. You can include metrics such as reach and engagement, learning outcomes and improvement in knowledge, and most importantly what would success stories look like and how many successes do you want to achieve.
Identify the stakeholders who need to be involved to deliver on those success metrics. For example, if you are working with youth, the parents, teachers, and schools could be key stakeholders to engage
Define the benefits that your target audience would get by participating in your program. This can be extracted from the profile of the success stories. However, the benefits should be clear and easily conveyed to the end-users. They could include things like awards, special offers, recognition, funding, etc..
Define the brand elements of the program and ideal marketing channels to reach your audience. Here you would need to think about if you want to use your existing brand and create an extension of it, or if your program should have its own brand which would give you more flexibility to engage others.
Customize the empowerment platform and include the resources in it that map out the user journey in the most simple and practical way. You would make use of bringing together your content, resources, and stakeholders so that your platform handholds your users through their empowerment journey. You want it to become the one-stop-shop for your users’ empowerment needs.
On-going updates on the empowerment platform to reflect the achievements, the stories, and the showcasing of the best talent. This ensures that everyone is motivated and engaged
Working together to empower everyone around us
Our team is ready to support you in launching your next empowerment program and can provide you with a free trial of our empowerment platform to help you do that.
We can also have one of our experts support you in designing your next empowerment program.