Archive for March, 2011

Innovators Are Bracket Busters

March 30th, 2011

This post originally appeared here on the Harvard Business Review site.

bracketbusters1That hungry whirring noise heard around offices across the U.S. is the sound of March Madness brackets being fed to paper shredders everywhere. Bracket busting is reaching historic levels in this year’s NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball National Championship Tournament. Since the tournament was created in 1939 this is the first time there are no number 1 or 2 seeds in the Final Four. All of the country’s top eight teams, as annointed by the experts, will watch the Final Four from home.

That’s amazing. It’s the first time in March Madness history that two teams, Butler (8) and VCU (11), seeded 8 or worse in their bracket will play each other in the Final Four. So if you shredded your bracket, you’re not alone. According to ESPN Research only two people out of the 5.9 million who filled out and submitted brackets in the ESPN Tournament Challenge have the Final Four correct. Only two. That’s .000034%.

As I shredded my bracket I couldn’t help thinking about the parallels between innovation and bracket busting. Read more


March 28th, 2011

steamI’m a sucker for any event promising an interdisciplinary experience and an opportunity to dive into the unknown between silos.  I was fortunate to attend, Make it Better, a recent symposium at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) on art, design, and the future of healthcare. It delivered. I was reminded of the old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercials. You got your art in my science!  No, You got your science in my art!  Art and science, two great tastes that taste good together. It amazes me in today’s always on and connected world we still have to be nudged, or for many, blasted out of our silos to experience the magic of interdisciplinary thinking and doing. The timing couldn’t have been better for a participative conversation about combining art, design, and healthcare.  There is growing recognition that our US health care system is unsustainable. The imperative is to transform from our current “sick care” system to a “well care” system. We need to go from an institution-centered approach to a human-centered approach. We need to go from tweaks to transformation. Art and design can be key enablers for transforming health care.

John Maeda, RISD’s President, always makes me think about the importance of art and design in our lives and to the innovation process.  In his BIF-6 Collaborative Innovation Summit story‘ last September John asserted that unleashing the innovation potential of the 21st century will require adding an “A” for art to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) turning it into STEAM.  Maeda suggests we need IDEA (intuition, design, emotion, and art) based thinking to make progress on the big system challenges we face including, education, health care, energy, and entrepreneurship.  I agree with Maeda and have been thinking about the IDEA of going from STEM to STEAM since his talk.  It wasn’t until I hung out at the Make It Better symposium that the real importance of moving to STEAM hit me. Read more

Plight of Young Males

March 9th, 2011

This post originally appeared on the Harvard Business Review site here.

male-student-2I am proud of my bona fides on supporting the advancement of women. It angers me to think how slow executive suites and boardrooms are to welcome more qualified females. Stubborn gender wage gaps for comparable work are unacceptable and must be closed.

However, with all of the attention and focus on supporting equal opportunities for women, we have taken our eyes off an alarming trend. Young men in the US are in trouble by any measure of educational attainment. It’s a big deal and, for reasons of political correctness, we aren’t talking enough about this growing national problem.

I refuse to believe the support of young American’s progress is a zero-sum game – that somehow if we call attention to the problem and take a different approach to improve the experience and outcomes of boys it would come at the expense of celebrating and enabling continued advancement of girls. We can and must recognize the unique challenges of young men and we had better start doing something about it now. Read more