Wed Evening, 6:55pm…
“It has been so long,” I say.
“Yes it has,” Izaz replies.
Izaz and I were returning to AIESEC as alumni to train new members in sales and innovation respectively. AIESEC was many years ago, but the vibe in the room filled our nostalgic hearts. AIESEC is a global internship exchange organization that was founded after World War II with the mission of creating cultural understanding. In 1948 the first exchanges took place, even between France and Germany.
“Joseph!” Izaz and I both say to our old friend as he walks into the seminar hall.
“Oh wow, it’s been so long,” he says and gives us both a hug and a handshake.
The organization continues to develop leaders and promote exchange today (2011). Joseph, Izaz and I had the pleasure of being part of that legacy, and the honor of passing our knowledge on to the new member of AIESEC at Baruch College.
Twenty minutes later…
“Ooo, Tweet ‘Go Abroad’ in different languages!”
“Post fliers in the halls.”
“Post fliers in classrooms.”
“Oh! Do country-specific dances, but spontaneously like flash mobs.”
I’m facilitating a training session for the AIESEC members on Creative Thinking. The group has been tasked with generating ideas on how they might market their internship exchange programs. I’m impressed at how quickly they generate and build on one another’s ideas. My young participants are quickly catching on to the guidelines and techniques I’ve given them. They’re blazing through their simulation.
At some point their momentum slows and the group comes to a pause.
“Hmm…what would Obama do?” I prompt.
“Oh! Speeches!” one girl yells.
“From members who return from exchange,” another adds.
They quickly ramp back up to full speed, and within the twenty minute simulation they generate a hundred ideas! The ideas are diverse, a good amount are novel, and quite a few are very elaborate. The members explain to me that they normally generate less ideas, and not often with this much originality.
AIESEC is an amazing organization that is creating valuable social change around the world. As technology changes and as HR departments acclimate to a global market for talent, AIESEC, as an international exchange organization, will face tremendous challenges. Innovation is the key to surviving and furthermore establishing thought leadership for AIESEC, and for many other social enterprises and organizations.