Archive for January, 2011

The Grass Is Always Bluer

January 24th, 2011

images-27I’ve been asked to visit the Bluegrass Region in Kentucky on February 7-8 to help catalyze a community conversation on turning the region into an entrepreneurial and innovation hotspot.  Why is it you can stand on your head and scream from the rooftops in your own hometown, with few listening, while the same message resonates in the community right next door?  I guess it’s true when they say the grass is always greener, or in this case bluer!  I can’t wait to visit Lexington and Louisville to spark an important conversation among the many passionate entrepreneurs, innovators, and community leaders who are working hard to transform their local economy.

One of the essential ingredients to transforming any economy is an optimistic and passionate group of change agents and catalysts.  The Bluegrass Region is fortunate to have many including Eric Patrick Marr the founder of LeXenomics, who I ‘m convinced will stop at nothing to help transform the region’s economy.  I first connected with Eric on Twitter where I’ve been inspired by his energy and passion and then in person when he attended BIF-6, our Collaborative Innovation Summit last September.  Eric has rallied the local troops for my upcoming visit including meetings with Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, leaders from the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville, public and private sector leaders from across the community, and lots and lots of local entrepreneurs and innovators.  I am grateful for Eric’s enthusiastic support (he would make a great personal agent!) and can already feel the innovation vibe from the community.  With a welcome as warm as Kentucky’s I may have to consider traveling more.

To the entrepreneurs and innovators of Kentucky I offer the following question as fodder for our upcoming conversation. Read more

Practically Radical

January 17th, 2011

images-261Beware of random collisions with unusual suspects.  Unless, of course, if you want to learn something new.  In that case seek out innovators from across every imaginable silo and listen, really listen, to their stories.  New ideas, perspectives, and value creating opportunities are in the gray areas between unusual suspects.  It seems so obvious and yet we spend most of our time with the usual suspects in our respective silos.  We need to get out of our silos more.

It’s human nature to surround ourselves with people exactly like us.  We connect and spend time with people who share a common world-view, look the same, enjoy the same activities, and speak the same language.  We join clubs to be with others like us.  I want to belong to the non-club club.  The only tribe I want to be in is a tribe of unusual suspects who can challenge my world-view, expose me to new ideas, and teach me something new.  I founded the Business Innovation Factory to enable random collisions of unusual suspects.

I am reminded of the power of this simple idea as my friend Bill Taylor launches his new book, Practically Radical (a must read for all innovators).  Bill is a magnet for innovation stories and a master storyteller.  I’ve been a Bill Taylor fan since he founded Fast Company and was surprised when he showed up at BIF-1, our very first Collaborative Innovation Summit, back in 2004.  I shouldn’t have been surprised.  Bill loves searching for compelling innovation stories among the unusual suspects.  He has attended all but one of our six annual summits to-date including co-chairing several of them.  There have been countless random collisions.  As I started reading Practically Radical I was immediately hit with a powerful reminder. Read more

Dare To Be Great

January 10th, 2011

images-26Keith Yamashita in his remarkable closing story at BIF-6 asked a question that still haunts and compels me.  Is it worth daring to be great?  No consulting buzzwords, no ambiguity, just a simple question for all of us to ponder. Implied within Keith’s question is the presumption we can all be great. We just have to dare to do it. Greatness isn’t something conferred or willed by others. It isn’t an entitlement or an inheritance. Greatness is innate and waiting for us to dare to achieve it.  Keith rightly suggests greatness isn’t a deficit that you have to fill. We unlearn greatness. We permit “the system” to suppress greatness. We start to believe what other people say about us as being true about us. Kids don’t start out that way. Kids are innately and wonderfully curious about the world around them until sadly society wears the enthusiasm and opportunity for greatness down. All kids start great. Read more