Think big or start small or both?

Today I happened to have podcasts about two different entrepreneurs in my ipod, both trying to do good and each wanting to solve two challenging tasks – poverty and global warming. For me this is an interesting issue as I am currently trying to figure out what I want to devote myself to (as most 20-30 year olds).

The first of them, Shai Agassi, I originally heard about in an Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders podcast (do try them out – they’re amazing!) and was quite impressed by his way of speaking about how he attempts to solve global warming. He doesn’t think small and nimble – no he believes in a full out, complete shift in paradigm. He says that the only viable solution to solve a problem of this complexity.

Then we have Mohammed Yunus, Nobel peace price winner, who started almost infinitely small – with one $27 dollar loan – which he then followed up with another and another and so on. He solved a small, manageable problem and continued on to the next logical step. There wasn’t a grand plan to fix poverty, it was just a plan to help a group of women.

Both took quite different approaches – but who’s right? You might say, this is all depending on the type of the problem – and even though I’d agree in principle, in practice I don’t see humans acting this way. It seems to me that most people I meet, including myself, seems to prefer to find grand scale solutions.

In Silicon Valley in 98-99 it was all about the grand plans, in Silicon Valley 08-09 it’s all about the small and scalable. Solving poverty was long the realm of large NGOs and government bodies, today social entrepreneurship is all the rage. When to apply what strategy?

My guess would be a combination of the two, I’ll be back in 20 years when I figured it out.

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