Archive for September, 2009

Free Agents Rising

September 30th, 2009

Large institutions, both public and private, should be afraid, very afraid. Free agents are connected, enabled, and riled up.

We had visitors from a huge IT company at BIF last week and no surprise they immediately noticed our IT room.  “So, this is your IT room?” Well it isn’t exactly a room.  More like a collection of gadgets lined up next to the entrance in clear view.  I walk by it every day and have never really thought twice about it.photo1

Yes, that’s it.  All we need on site to make the place go, I said. Everything else is in the cloud. It is amazing if you think about it.  We are not an exception as free agents and entrepreneurs everywhere are able to behave, access capabilities, and compete like large companies.  I would assert more nimbly than most large organizations. Read more

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Goodness

September 20th, 2009

This weekend Jews around the world celebrated the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah marking the beginning of the year 5077.  As a traditional new year’s greeting we wish each other L’shana tova, or may you have a year full of goodness.  We don’t wish each other a happy new year but rather wish for a good year.  I have never considered the difference.

At our temple this year, Rabbi Les Gutterman pointed out the literal translation of L’shana tova and the distinction between happiness and goodness during his Rosh Hashanah sermon. He also posed a very interesting question to the congregation.  “What if our founding fathers had proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence that our inalienable rights included life, liberty, and the pursuit of goodness instead of the pursuit of happiness?  Would we be better off if we valued goodness above happiness?  Rabbi Gutterman’s questions always make me think and this one was no different.  I have been pondering his question and the difference between happiness and goodness. Read more

Stories Can Change The World

September 14th, 2009

“Facts are facts, but stories are who we are, how we learn, and what it all means.”  My friend Alan Webber, Co-founder of Fast Company and author of Rules of Thumb, has it exactly right.  Storytelling is the most important tool for any innovator.  It is the best way to create emotional connections to your ideas and innovations.  Sharing stories is the way to create a network of passionate supporters that can help spread ideas and make them a reality.  We remember stories.  We relate to stories and they compel us to action.

images5Storytelling is a core value at the Business Innovation Factory (BIF).  We believe that advancing our mission to enable system change in health care, education, and energy is critically dependant on our ability to create, package, and share stories from out work.  Everything we do is about storytelling and our Innovation Story Studio is one of BIF’s most important capabilities.  By openly sharing stories about the process and output of BIF’s work we are strengthening our community of innovators and becoming more purposeful with every new story. Read more

Wake Up, Colleges and Universities

September 2nd, 2009

bw_255x54121In my latest Business Week column I call for higher ed transformation.

Colleges and universities are some of the world’s most important assets. We need these institutions to enable citizens to be passionate, lifelong learners and doers. We need them to help advance the world’s thought capital and catalyze the translation of ideas into solutions. We need them to produce innovators who can solve the big social problems we face related to issues of health care and energy.

Unfortunately, post-secondary education in the U.S. is stuck in the 20th century with an Industrial Era business model that is both worn at the edges and unsustainable.

Only 40% of the U.S. adult population earns a college degree. That may have been fine when an industrial economy supplied good jobs to those without post-secondary education. It’s not fine today. We need a larger percentage of the U.S. adult population to be able to earn that education at a price they can afford. Instead, the price of higher education is out of reach for many, and financial aid models are stretched to their breaking point.

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