In this episode we explore failure as a learning laboratory. Renee Hopkins spends some time chatting with us about the failure of print journalism (and her super power for escaping it), the challenges of helping innovation thought leaders to innovate (and her work with Innochat), and the lack of room for failure in the “perfect enterprise”. We also have a great conversation about the semantic minefield that is innovation. And a snapshot of a spectacular failure on the part of the UN in Bangladesh in the 1950’s-60’s during which they went from failure to failure.
When one is compassionate it has profound affect on the severity, occurrence and length of disease. Dr. James Doty, the CEO and Founder of CCare shared that this has been identified scientifically to be true.
He asked, how can a privileged, white, male have a leg to stand on in the face of the ridiculousness of the lawmakers in Washington DC who have little understanding of physiology expounding on women’s reproductive health? By declaring where they stand. Doty declared: “I am a feminist and a humanist.”
Every person has a right to dignity, to flourish and to thrive.
Doty made it very clear that everyone will suffer in their lives. He said, as others have before him, that it is our lot to suffer but it is also within our nature to care and intervene to alleviate the suffering of others. Human gestation and the need for care developed the depth and the range of nurturing required for humans to survive.
These social bonds also resulted in the development of culture, society and religion, and this paradigm has worked for the last several hundred years. But it is not a sustainable model. Change happens over generations and we are experiencing a tumult of change. When people are authentic and connect with others based on who they are, they derive the maximum benefit from those interactions. When we are compassionate our immunes system is boosted. These behavior traits will ensure our continuity.
Observing another being compassionate results in you being more compassionate.
Doty left us with a recitation of the following poem by Nancy R. Smith, “For Every Woman”
For every woman who is tired of acting weak when she knows she is strong, there is a man who is tired of appearing strong when he feels vulnerable.
For every woman who is tired of acting dumb, there is a man who is burdened with the constant expectation of “knowing everything.”
For every woman who is tired of being called “an emotional female,” there is a man who is denied the right to weep and to be gentle.
For every woman who is called unfeminine when she competes, there is a man for whom competition is the only way to prove his masculinity.
For every woman who is tired of being a sex object, there is a man who must worry about his potency.
For every woman who feels “tied down” by her children, there is a man who is denied the full pleasures of shared parenthood.
For every woman who is denied meaningful employment or equal pay, there is a man who must bear full financial responsibility for another human being.
For every woman who was not taught the intricacies of an automobile, there is a man who was not taught the satisfactions of cooking.
For every woman who takes a step toward her own liberation, there is a man who finds the way to freedom has been made a little easier.
Evan Ratliff shared three powerful lessons:
- Sometimes you have to create the world you want to live in
- You have to appeal to or assume the better nature of your audience
- You have to go all-in
He, and his partners have created a new publishing site called The Atavist—and to do that they found that they needed to create a new platform to be able to tell those stories which is call Creatavist.
Ratliff shared more of his motivations in an interview after sharing his story here:
There came about a movement for long-form storytelling online across both old and new media which Ratliff recognized. More and more people are looking to tell these kinds of stories. The people who care about what you have to say will give you their attention and loyalty.
Bruce Nussbaum is a Professor of Innovation and Design at Parsons The New School of Design in New York City, is a former Managing Editor at BusinessWeek and blogs for Fast Company and Harvard Business Review. He taught third grade science in the Peace Corps in the Philippines and studied anthropology, sociology and political science in grad school at the University of Michigan. At BIF-9 he shared the power of transforming the world around us through our intention. His new book is Creative Intelligence.
When we think about what is meaningful to people, big data can give us information but without cultural context it can be misleading.
There is a huge difference in generations. And what is meaningful to each of them. The fastest way to change an organization is to change generations, at the very least you need multi-generation teams. You also need to pay attention to the translation and transition between the two. You are inattentive at your own peril.
Xiao Xiao took the bench at the piano and then simply plays, along with herself! She developed a new piano media enhancement as part of her work on her PhD with the Tangible Media Group at MIT, the result is the Mirrorfugue.
For Xiao, she sees the utility of mapping analogies for music – classical = score, jazz = more sparse but based on theme. Both of which can describe landscapes and terrains like cities. The projection of yourself onto the city occurs in the same way that projection onto music creates layers of meaning leading to unique interpretations. And is so doing transporting your audience to new realms.
The way we understand things is fundamentally shaped by the way we capture our experiences. With the proliferation of recordings it precipitated a shift in the art of classical performance from interpretation to correctness, taking the energy out of the music. You more easily recognize wrong notes rather than the energy of the interpretation.
The approach to classical music that is thematic is the order of the day, but it is in the variations that the true meaning lies. Themes and short form interpretations lack the physical, emotional and intellectual engagement of variations.
Two prove her point Xiao played with two others across the Mirrorfugue! Brilliant! Bach Two Part Inventions.
Peter Hirshberg of Re:Imagine asked, how do we turn our cities and into platforms for innovation? By way of an answer he shared the notion of the World’s Fair as an immersive form. The 1939 World’s Fair in New York was perhaps the worlds greatest World’s Fair. A canvas like no other. The vision was a very controlled and structured one—certainly as offered by GM.
The notion of turning the city into a lab was also shared by Walt Disney – see EPCOT at Walt Disney World as a classic 20th Century example of that. A community of tomorrow that will never be completed. The future was to be given to us by American enterprise and not something that could be co-created. The present day version of the city of tomorrow should be something like Burning Man. It’s 60,000 people to a desert. You have to participate (no bystanders) and you have to reframe the world.
Make ideas worth stealing.
Art becomes a tool to fundamentally reframe how we see the world. The next World’s Fair is the one we create ourselves.
Saul Kaplan moderated a discussion between Tony Hsieh CEO of Zappos & Bill Taylor (Founder of FastCompany magazine). Taylor has come to BIF 7 out of 9 times. A writer and an editor who loves to meet people who are not in the headlines every day. This is an important part of his year. Hsieh has been to BIF 3 times and has shared his story, too.
October 2013 is the 20th Anniversary of the FastCompany business plan. To celebrate they are hosting a mini BIF. The theme is “What are you working on?” Best-selling novelists, TV network directors, investors (Tom Peters), gadflies (Seth Godin) will be participating. Taylor sees himself as being a skunk at the garden party, “It is hard and difficult to make deep-seated, long-lasting change,” but you have to talk about that so that you can be ready for the hard and challenging work involved.
Hsieh shared the challenge of transforming downtown Las Vegas and the serendipity of meeting someone who was leaving town because she didn’t want to work in casinos any more. They funded her lunch spot. He also shared the promotion for the Downtown Las Vegas, Life is Beautiful Festival – a multiple focus festival. He spoke to the action of making change a reality.
The last storyteller who shook up the room was Rabbi Irwin Kula founder of Clal, who said of his honorific: “It’s like any title, it is being rapidly deconstructed today.” Much in the same way he said, we need to innovate in religion. As secular spaces become sacred. And the most religious are the least.
Religious leadership has nothing to offer because we are reinventing religion. Through that reinvention how the hardware of humanity gets used will be very dependent on the software of humanity.
Cognitive and physical enhancement also demands moral enhancement.
We have to be disruptive moral innovators. As with most religious leaders Rabbi Kula left as with more questions than answers…
What do symbols mean? What do practices mean? Do they work or do you become a bastard. What would it mean to be incented by acceptable behavior?
How do we disaggregate wisdom and practices that designed to help us become wiser, kinder and gentler? How do we move people from the cathedral to the bazaar? Real religion is happening in our lives all the time. How do designs reflect the products that shape consciousness and awareness? We need metrics on what practices work.
When the fastest growing religion is “none” – how do we engage our complete selves in ways that are meaningful to us and to those around us? Which regardless of religion is what BIF-9 was all about—engagement to make shared meaning.
My recommendation: come and be a part of the story to unfold in 2014. You won’t be disappointed.
Primed Associates has been featured at Corp! Magazine with our latest post, “How to Inspire an Innovation Culture.”
Companies are faced with an era of constant evolution and creative disruption. They realize that they need to implement a culture of innovation to succeed. Can companies truly change their business objectives to include innovation without first instilling certain values in management?
Innovation: From the top down
Managers are really the only ones who can bring their teams together and implement meaningful and successful changes. If managers are not using a common language of innovation to link the actions of their team members to overall organizational goals, then employees will put their attention and dedication to other projects that they are more interested in, seem easier to implement, or for which they are given encouraging consequences.
See the full post here
Recycling is not a new concept. As long as people have had “stuff,” they’ve been figuring out ways to re-use and re-purpose it. We visited that topic when we explored bricolage—and dipped into the idea of innovating with what you have. At the time we explored four concepts that help to support a “can-do” attitude when it comes to finding breakthrough uses for existing materials and concepts. This time we are going to dig a little deeper on the first concept—the power of having an intimate knowledge of resources. The reason for this exploration is that increasingly, the notion of “doing more with less” has been replaced with “make do with what you have.”
Our duty, as men and women, is to proceed as if limits to our ability did not exist. We are collaborators in creation.
– Teilhard de Chardin
As innovators I think we can reach beyond “making do,” can’t we? How might we push beyond our perceived limits? How might we use what we have to make things that are great?
Taking a different perspective
One of the simplest paths to take involves supporting your organization’s use of existing assets and leveraging them via technology. The application of technology to an existing product can transform it from functional tool to a necessary piece in a business model ecosystem. Consider the Velibe: the Velibe (a contraction of vélo libre or vélo liberté) is the bicycle-share program that was rolled out in Paris, France in 2007. It is a simple concept, offered at various places around the city: bicycles that might be shared among the people of the city, residents and visitors alike. These bicycles are available for rent by the hour or day.
Apart from the challenges involved with capacity management, and yes, the occasional “blue screen of death,” the Velibe program has created a service of value. At the intersection of a centuries-old transportation method and modern billing systems this bicycle share program enables a city to move. It helps reduce traffic for short distance errands, and it creates a ready and reasonable alternative to other forms of transportation. A simple innovation to an existing technology can transform a city.
Another bicycle company, Pi Mobility Systems, has begun to transform the way in which bicycles might serve a wider set of local and longer-distance transportation needs. Pi Mobility was struggling to realize prototypes of its electric bicycles, and the amount of time, effort, and money was exceeding the limits of their resources. It could not afford to build any more prototypes without having a product to sell to offset their costs. The whole enterprise was in a perilous state. Rather than seek additional funding they sought an alternative solution.
That solution was for Pi Mobility to strike a partnership with the AutoCAD software publisher Autodesk, through their sustainable design initiative. Where their previous six prototypes had been achieved at a very high cost due to their complex physical nature, Pi Mobility were now able to use $150,000 of Autodesk software for a nominal $50 fee. Using this, they were able to hold off a physical prototype until just before production, much in the same way that Boeing used the CATIA system (Computer-Aided Three-dimensional Interactive Application) that it sourced from Dassault Systemes and IBM. In Pi Mobility’s case, they found that they could rapidly prototype their electric bicycle online in order to get it to market faster, minimizing the additional risk and cost of physical prototyping.
Using what you know and combining it with the technology or subject-matter expertise of others can help you take your resources further. The same resources, when combined with new thinking, might yield even greater returns. The challenge is to be flexible enough to recognize them.
Build on traditional knowledge—use measured destruction
Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction.
– Pablo Picasso
Another essential trait for better exploitation of available resources is to build on the knowledge we already possess. In manufacturing, it might mean taking an existing product but conceiving of its construction in different forms or using different materials. This might require us to destroy the way we currently perceive the value we create for customers. For example, a team of designers rethought the Coke range of cans by eliminating the need for overly printed surfaces. They killed the flash. The newer designs stripped colors down to two (at the most). Less ink meant lower cost and also a more readily recyclable container. Some enterprising design students, such as Harc Lee, have done away with inks altogether, which may be a step too far for Coca Cola, but it does point to the ways in which an existing product can be transformed via design and innovation. Other beverage firms have begun to follow suit in terms of re-conceiving what they already bring to market.
Consider plastic bottles: like plastic shopping bags, they have become an environmental scourge. Bottle-making practices for years were bound by the need to emulate the hard container styles of glass and metal bottles. With the recognition of a need to produce a product with a reduced environmental impact, Poland Spring developed the Eco-Shape bottle. The recyclable Poland Spring Half Liter Eco-Shape bottle is not only less impactful on the environment, it’s purposely designed to be easy to carry and hold. It is lighter, requiring less energy to make—resulting in a reduction of CO2 emissions—and also requires less energy to recycle. Additionally, the flexibility of the plastic, initially a concern when the bottle was empty, became a non-issue when the bottle was filled. The contents provided the necessary pressure to make the bottle feel substantial.
The microcosm of sub-cultures within the social network in your organization can also yield unique ways to transform your limited resources into something unique and new and, perhaps, game-changing. As well as building on the explicit and tacit knowledge resident in the people within your organization, it pays to pay attention to the communities of practice they represent, too.
The tribe knows: know your tribe
Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family: Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.
– Jane Howard
One of the fastest ways to reveal and realize the hidden potential of resources you already have at hand is through the social networks that exist in your organization. The social relationships that comprise a present-day organization consist of a variety of subgroups, such as functional teams, project teams, new hires, managers, experts, or communities of practice. It is in the last subgroup that the most tribal aspects of organization life may be at work.
The cliques that form around communities of practice are created by a commonly held belief in a set of operational practices that create value in an organization. They usually comprise those subject matter experts (a core group) most interested in furthering their understanding of their knowledge, and who are often most interested in sharing that knowledge with newer members. Other members of a clique may be ad hoc or occasional members who engage when they have a specific need to address. The value of the tribe is their willingness to share information, knowledge, and collective wisdom that may be completely unrecognized by existing knowledge-management tools in the organization.
It is in their ability to serve as a knowledge-management repository that these tribes can provide significant value to the organization. Their experiences can improve decision-making about when and how to apply scarce resources for maximum value and minimal waste. They can connect needs expressed to potential solution-finders or problem-solvers faster and more effectively than most technology. Better yet, they may be a self-sustaining and self-governing source of ongoing innovation that requires very little in the way of “care and feeding.”
A wise innovator sees opportunities where others believe none exist. In times of severe economic constraint, it is a common practice to reduce the explorative and expansionist tendencies that innovation requires. Leaving little to chance or risk results in little innovation. By seeking to view existing resources with fresh eyes, taking the calculated risks to destroy existing products and services in the pursuit of breakthroughs, and leveraging the hidden knowledge residing in your people, you may find that making innovation with less is not as difficult as you first thought.