Report

Riding the Wave… rather than being swept away

The year 2012 marked the end of two iconic global brands: unable to compete with the internet-based Wikipedia, Encyclopaedia Britannica ended print production after 244 years in business and Kodak, a firm that in 1976 “accounted for 90 percent of film and 85 percent of camera sales in America”, and which was “regularly rated one of the world’s five most valuable brands”, could not adapt to the demands of digital photography and filed for bankruptcy after 124 years of operation. The year 2012 also marked the emergence of a major challenge to traditional university education:

“Since the launch early last year of Udacity and Coursera, two Silicon Valley start-ups offering free education through MOOCS, massive open online courses, the ivory towers of academia have been shaken to their foundations.” Could disruptive change of such a magnitude also threaten top brands among international civil society organisations (ICSOs) such as Amnesty International, Greenpeace, Oxfam or Save the Children?

This question was at the centre of the deliberations of a group of about 20 experts and leaders from ICSOs and some of their key stakeholders who worked together from January to August 2013, trying to identify strategies to detect, prepare for and navigate disruptive change as it arises. The Disruptive Change Working Group communicated via an online platform and email, and held several telephone conferences and one face-to-face meeting in Bellagio, Italy as a basis for their collaboration. Published by the International Civil Society Centre, this text reflects the inputs and discussions of the whole group.

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