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Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Soccket - A Fun Social Innovation

The Soccket - A Fun Social Innovation
by Kevin Roberts

Tackling climate change is too important to leave to politicians! It's a job for the inventors, the innovators, the radical optimists. Because of them, the clean energy revolution is already underway, in big ways and small. I stumbled across this amazing idea, and I wanted to share it with you.

Meet the Soccket, a "fun, portable energy-harvesting energy source in the form of a soccer ball". That's right - it is a football that captures the energy of each kick, throw or header to be reused later as a tiny power generator. For each 15 minutes of play, it generates enough energy to power an LED light for three hours.

The Soccket has been trialed successfully in Durban, South Africa - home to this year's Soccer World Cup, as well as to millions of young people who love nothing more than to kick a ball around, often in communities with not enough safe, reliable sources of energy. The inventors see it as a community builder and public health tool as well as being, well, a soccer ball. They plan to develop a high-end version for sale in the US and Europe. An inspired and inspiring idea!

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Image source: ecofriend
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Kevin RobertsKevin Roberts is the CEO worldwide of The Lovemarks Company, Saatchi & Saatchi. For more information on Kevin, please go to www.saatchikevin.com. To see this blog at its original source, please go to www.krconnect.blogspot.com.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tapping the Network to Facilitate Innovation

by Venessa Miemis

Tapping the Network to Facilitate InnovationA few weeks ago, I entered a contest to receive a free entry to the Social Business Edge conference coming up in April in NYC, and a chance to share the idea on stage. I just found out my entry is one of four that was selected. I'm copying it here, but I'd love to build it out with you:

How can the power and scope of social networks, combined with a human capital inventory, be used to facilitate shared creation and innovation?

It wasn't that long ago that society was a byproduct of an industrial era, characterized by assembly lines, processes, and efficiency. Like the machines they operated, people were not expected to think, but to conform and become a cog - a replicable, interchangeable part of a machine. The problem is, humans weren't designed for mechanization. We were designed to create.

With the rise of social tools, we've been publicly reclaiming ourselves - publishing blogs, joining social networks, and connecting and sharing information with each other on a global scale. As a result, a shift in values is underway, where privacy, gatekeeping, and the preference for information silos is being replaced with new expectations of publicy, openness and transparency. We're still exploring the implications of this transition both for our personal identities and for the role of the business organization, but there's the potential to redesign the system in a way that's fair, participatory, and human.

But how?

A part of it is in understanding the composition of our social networks, and the skills, strengths, and relationships that are embedded within them. At the organizational level, knowledge is often separated by department, and at a larger scale it's separated by the notions of producer verse consumer. These barriers no longer make sense. In order to take advantage of hidden insights and innovative ideas, there needs to be a way to understand who's who and how to get the information flowing through the proper channels.

A tool that would map the connections within a network combined with a 'human capital' assessment could aid in this process. By mapping the network, one would understand the relationships between individuals and groups, how knowledge flows, and spot areas where communication channels could be opened and new connections made. A human capital inventory would be like a resume, but with context. It might show an individual's past experience and affiliations and skills, but also include things like social capital, sphere of influence, reputation, inherent strengths, and personality type. This information would give clues as to how to create dynamic teams and at what stage of a process an individual's skills would be best applied.

By creating transparency and open channels, a social learning environment is created, where managers become leaders and facilitators and everyone else becomes participants. This is opposite to being cogs in a machine - rather it encourages creativity, collaboration, and shared creation. It's become apparent that a vast amount of knowledge exists within the structure of the network itself, and by creating the proper conditions for information to be shared and built upon, we can devise solutions that are better than zero-sum. Approaching problems with this mindset would have an amplifying effect that would scale beyond the limits of the organization.

Taking the Idea Further

So there's the premise. The ideas are not new, but seem to exist currently in different places in different stages. For instance, the idea of measuring influence is currently being tested with services like Klout, and Tweetlevel. The Whuffie Bank is trying to devise a currency that's built on reputation that could be redeemed for real and virtual products and services. And I was just alerted to a new startup, Jostle, that's trying to help companies "harness and engage their human capital."

On the other side, you have the people who are trying to understand how knowledge flows within an organization, and how the learning process works. I've picked up a lot of ideas about social network analysis from Valdis Krebs, the concept of Wirearchy from Jon Husband, and ways to bridge the gap between a networked enterprise and social learning from Harold Jarche and Frederic Domon.

Plus all the people doing work in Knowledge Management, (David Gurteen and Dave Snowden come to mind), Design Thinking (Arne van Oosterom), Social Business Design (David Armano, Peter Kim, Jeremiah Owyang), and the 'big shift' that's impacting business strategy and innovation (John Hagel & John Seely Brown).

Plus all of you who make this blog worth visiting by adding your insights and comments to every post. I feel like all the pieces are out there, we just need to imagine how to bring them together. I've been throwing out this idea on Twitter, and getting some interesting thoughts, but 140 characters is too short, so I wanted to put it here to see where we could go with it.

I'm imagining some kind of a social tagging system that would travel with you, like a "live" version of your resume - which is currently a static and vague document that lacks the rich context that tells what you're really all about. What would this look like? Could we somehow have a 'human capital inventory' that would list some of those inherent strengths that we possess? Descriptive words like adaptive, flexible, catalyst, playful, critical thinker, methodical, etc. Or some way to tag the contributions we made to specific projects or initiatives at work? And then could that be combined with a visualization of our social connections, both strong and weak ties, and the value we add to those various networks? And along with that, recommendations or compliments or testimonials, or some way to have individuals give you props.

How would this look? We've gotten so good at tagging the world around us, of creating folksonomies to understand everything around us. Isn't it only a matter of time before we start tagging ourselves?

Related Article:

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Venessa MiemisVenessa Miemis is a Media Studies graduate student at the New School in NYC, exploring what happens at the intersection of technology, culture, and communication. Connect with her at www.emergentbydesign.com and on Twitter @venessamiemis.

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Sunday, February 28, 2010

You Were Born to Save the Planet

You Were Born to Save the Planet
Adam Werbach, the CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi S, recently spoke at the 5th Annual Teens Turning Green Summit in California to an audience of keen, sustainability-minded young people. His message - on the opportunities this generation has to create positive change and the power of DOTs - clearly resonated, and is now spreading like wildfire on the web. It's a welcome shot of inspiration for anyone, whether you're teen or senior, whether you consider yourself Green or Blue. Below is a shortened version of Adam's speech, you can read the full version here. - Kevin Roberts

by Adam Werbach

The Earth needs you right now. Our ecological systems are in decline, one-third of fish species stand at the verge of collapse, the glaciers of the Himalayas, which provide drinking water to over a billion people, are rapidly melting, the chemicals we're putting in us, on us and around us are forming complex endocrine disrupting compounds that are in every one of our bodies. Tonight hundreds of thousands of Haitians are sleeping below flimsy plastic shelters wondering where they'll find their next meal, wondering when their kids will start going to school again.

All of this bad news should make me crawl up into a ball. But instead I'm oddly optimistic, like a kid looking for coins in a payphone. The world may be screwed up, but it's changing faster than ever. Your challenge is to make the type of change we want at the speed we need. And you have it in your neural programming to make it so. Recent brain studies show that your brain moves faster when you're younger, so you're bringing more processing power to the challenge. All of that texting and facebooking is going to pay off in spades. The world is changing and your generation was born to save the planet.

Any movement starts with yourself. I ask you to pick a DOT - DOT stands for Do One Thing. One thing that's good for you, good for the planet, that you do regularly. Maybe it's yoga or riding your bike or saving energy. But it's one thing you do to put your body where your mouth is. We need a billion DOTs. One billion people all making their own commitments. Take a moment now and choose your own DOT. Share it with a friend. Keep it going. Pick another. And it all adds up. If every high schooler turned the thermostat in their house down by one degree Celsius, it would be like reducing 100,000 tanker trucks of gasoline, or taking over a million cars off the road.

Right now there are about 6.7 billion people on the planet. And there's an emerging bulge of teenagers at the bottom of the demographic pyramid that exists because fertility rates are dropping globally. By 2011 there will be 7 billion people and 1 billion teenagers on the planet. Can you imagine 1 billion teenagers? Can you imagine them talking all at once? Now imagine them all walking in the same direction in a line that's as long as 1,000,000 Empire State Buildings. Can you see it? The line would stretch around the earth fifteen times. Can you see it? Now imagine one billion DOTs. All coming together. I'll bet on that.

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Kevin RobertsKevin Roberts is the CEO worldwide of The Lovemarks Company, Saatchi & Saatchi. For more information on Kevin, please go to www.saatchikevin.com. To see this blog at its original source, please go to www.krconnect.blogspot.com.

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Ideas Are Core to Enterprise 2.0

by Hutch Carpenter

Ideas Are Core to Enterprise 2.0Brian Solis spoke recently on what the future of social networks will be. Ideas, it turns out. As I wrote on another blog post:

"Solis, leading thinker in the integration of social media and PR, recently spoke on an intriguing concept: ideas connect us more than relationships. The premise of his argument is that ideas are what elicit passion in people. They animate us, and if we find someone with a similar interest in a given idea, we connect."

Then there was this observation by Intel's Enterprise 2.0 lead Laurie Buczek on the only quantifiable value they found in their Enterprise 2.0 efforts:

"Where we did quickly find quantifiable business value during an ideation proof of concept. Ideas that are discovered and turned into action have produced dollarized return of business value."

Both Brian and Laurie are pointing to the unique nature of ideas. Brian talks of ideas as connectors. Laurie talks of ideas being 'discovered'. If Enterprise 2.0 rests on delivering value through collaborative, emergent and social means, ideas are the top basis for leveraging these qualities.

Of course, from a pragmatic, what-do-businesses-care-about perspective, innovation is a top priority.

The top-down, Board-level importance of innovation is not a surprise. As I've seen repeatedly with our enterprise innovation work at Spigit, ideas are an excellent bottom-up basis for Enterprise 2.0.

Ideas Are Me

Perhaps the most important aspect of social is the ability to express what you're thinking. Ideas fit this dynamic quite well. Ideas are...
  • Expressions of my creativity, ingenuity and problem-solving

Inside companies, we see things that we know can be improved. We see opportunities that need to be explored. We know a good answer for a particular challenge put forth by managers.

Every time you have an idea, a bit of you bonds to it. Your way of thinking, your understanding of context, the experiences you've had, the expertise you bring to bear, the work aspirations you have.

Ideas can be small, giving you satisfaction in fixing something obvious to you. They can be big, offering the possibility of work that elicits your passions.

This is powerful stuff. It is a unique intersection of something that helps the company with something that personally satisfies you.

Ideas Are the Basis for Finding Like-Minded Colleagues

When I post an idea, I create the basis for finding others. That because when I post an idea, I'm making...
  • A call for your interest

Think about that. The act of publishing an idea is a broadcast across the organization. It's a tentative query to see who else feels the same way. Or if not the same way, who has an interest that overlaps mine.

This is unique to ideas. Ideas are potential. They are a change from the status quo. There are others who share at least some aspect of your idea. In large, distributed organizations, where are these people?!!

My idea is my call to form my own virtual team, to see who can help me accomplish something of value to me and the organization. I contrast this with other types of activities one might do under the Enterprise 2.0 umbrella: status updates, project tasks, writing a common document, adding content to knowledge wiki. Those aren't calls to form virtual teams.

Ideas have a unique quality in team and community forming, consistent with the emergent nature of Enterprise 2.0.

Ideas Are Social Objects

A key consideration of any framework for interaction is, "what are we going to talk about?" Within the enterprise environment, an idea is...
  • A social object for our interaction

The concept of social objects is powerful. It illuminates the core basis for why two or more people interact. They share an interest in some thing. We are complex beings, with multiple different interests. We won't ever match up with someone else exactly in terms of what animates. But social objects allow a sort of miniature Venn Diagram of our common interests to flourish.

Hugh MacLeod pragmatically notes, "The Social Object, in a nutshell, is the reason two people are talking to each other, as opposed to talking to somebody else."

Leading designer Joshua Porter, also known as Bokardo. In his post, Finding Innovation in Design, he describes the AOF method of social experience design:
  • A = activity you want to support
  • O = social objects that define the activity
  • F = features are actions people take upon social objects

You build social-oriented sites around a core set of objects and activities which attract people.

Ideas, because they represent something new, something that can affect your daily work, are terrific social objects. An idea is a proposal, and a natural basis for interacting. Contrast this with posting a document, or a page of knowledge, or a status update. Those are lower wattage, more ephemeral social objects.

Ideas Become Projects

Ideas get attention. They propose to change things, and they will need work. An idea is...
  • The basis of a future project for us

What makes ideas so powerful is they are changes to the status quo. This means:
  • They're going to affect people's daily work
  • They require some work to make happen

This imbue ideas with a certain vitality. It gives them a power not seen with with other types of social computing activities, save projects themselves.

Another important aspect is that ideas will elicit passion in certain users, those we talked about earlier. If there is a chance to become part of a project team working on the idea, that is exciting. Consider times in your life you got to be part of a team, working on something that excited you.

Ideas have these qualities: possibilities, change to work routines, chance to be part of an exciting initiative. Projects have a certain aspirational quality for us employees, and ideas tap this aspect well.

There are many types of content and activities - social objects - that are part of a social computing initiative. I'd argue ideas, for a host of reasons, should be considered top amongst those social objects.

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Hutch CarpenterHutch Carpenter is the Vice President of Product at Spigit. Spigit integrates social collaboration tools into a SaaS enterprise idea management platform used by global Fortune 2000 firms to drive innovation.

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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Internet Future Driven by User Reputation Scores

by Hutch Carpenter

In a recent interview with EMC's Stu Miniman about the future of the web, I predicted that in 20 years, we'll all have online reputation scores. Little badges, numbers that communicate our level of authority, this sort of thing. And these reputations will have tangible impact.

Three different trends come together at some point in the future to make this happen. These trends have been underway for a while, but come together at some tipping point in the years ahead. Here's a visualization of the trends:

Internet Future Driven by User Reputation Scores

It's helpful to discuss each one, in the context of online reputations.

Rate performance of businesses

eBay, which went public back in 1998, played an important role in socializing the concept of people providing online ratings for online sellers. After we receive our purchase, we rate the seller. The collective wisdom identifies top sellers. Got your eye in that Donkey Kong game? Who are you most likely to trust...?

Rate performance of businesses
Amazon picked up on this, once it introduced third party sellers into the mix. You can see the percentage of positive ratings for the different sellers. Personally, I have paid premiums (i.e. higher prices) for the assurance that comes from a higher rated seller.

Yelp has taken this concept of rating a seller, and applied to offline consumer experiences. Want to get a burrito in San Francisco? You're likely to go with the highest rated restaurants.

These ratings make up for our lack of information about various providers of services. One could do a lot of online research, and asking friends, before buying. But these ratings do quite well as shorthand ways of assessing quality. They've made it easy to transact, without knowing someone ahead of time.

The rating ethos is expanding. On Facebook, you can 'like' people's entries. We 'love' music on Last.fm. We 'favorite' tweets. We 'digg' and 'buzz up' stories. Implicitly, we provide ratings when we share content via different social networks. Online engagement allows for this.

Migration of transparent work and information online

I found this recent Kaiser Family Foundation study fascinating. The amount of time kids spend online - smart phone, computer, television or other electronic device - is now at an all-time high. There's no denying this: future workers are going to be more accustomed to online engagement and information-seeking than any generation before. It's their lifestyle:

Migration of transparent work and information online
More generally, an important distinction from the web of the 1990s and early 2000s is that we aren't just reading and transacting. Individuals are providing the content. More every day, in fact. We have transferred some of the engagement and contributions from the offline world online. Actually, we're probably creating more content than we ever have,

For workers, the growth of Enterprise 2.0 continues. A key outcome of that? More and more work is making its way online. When it's available there, and not just in a Word document on the hard drive or email in an inbox, it's findable and usable by everyone. Your colleagues know quite well what the quality of your work and contributions are.

Do you think all of this stops, and we go back to message-relaying marathoners, smoke signals and carrier pigeons? No. Enterprise 2.0 and social media will continue their growth apace. And increasingly, this time spent online is through social media.

More and more people will be publishing their work, their ideas, their knowledge, their conversational bits, their creativity... online. It's just going to keep increasing.

Rely on social media for information

An emerging trend is the transition of where we seek information. Remember libraries, magazines and microfiche? Then the 1.0 websites where we got information? Then the portals that aggregated information from major media sites? Then search augmented all this information consumption?

Well, the next wave is to rely on our social connections to deliver interesting, relevant information to us. As was famously said by a college student in 2008:

"If the news is important, it will find me."

A recent Nielsen study confirms this growing tendency to use social media as a first stop to find information:

Rely on social media for information
Admittedly, the leading social sites of today - blogs, Facebook, Twitter - have a ways to go before they become a large percentage of the population's first choice. And it'd help if Twitter could get their search working further back than a week or two.

But this survey and anecdotal evidence points toward an increased reliance on others to provide information to us.

Putting this all together

It's that last trend, still early in its cycle, that really points toward the development of formal, online reputations. When we started transacting online with complete strangers or small businesses we never knew, we needed a basis for understanding their credibility. It turns out, crowdsourced ratings are excellent indicators of quality. It also causes small businesses to be aware of the quality of their products and services.

In the years ahead, expect increased usage of social media for getting information and sourcing people, products and services. As an example, research firm IDC just released these survey results:

"57% of U.S. workers use social media for business purposes at least once per week. The number one reason cited by U.S. workers for using social tools for business purposes was to acquire knowledge and ask questions from a community."

As reliance on people for information increases, expect an increased need for knowing which strangers provide the top quality information. Note I said "strangers" there. One thing we will continue to do is to rely on our "friends" (social media sense of the word) for ongoing daily information. The people we connect with on the various social sites.

But that's the only way we will get information. Or make decisions. Great case in point? Google's real-time search results:

Google's real-time search results
If innovation is the focus of your work, wouldn't you want to be included in those Google results? Here's the thing. Google doesn't just put any old tweet or other form of real-time content in there. As Google's Amit Singhal stated:

"You earn reputation, and then you give reputation. If lots of people follow you, and then you follow someone - then even though this [new person] does not have lots of followers, his tweet is deemed valuable because his followers are themselves followed widely," Singhal says. "It is definitely, definitely more than a popularity contest," he adds.

Note his words: "You earn reputation."

PR agency Edelman created a ranking algorithm called Tweetlevel, which analyzes people on the basis of influence, popularity, engagement and trust. Tweetlevel was recently used to create a list of the top analysts on Twitter. As the author of that post noted, one purpose for the list was to answer the question: "Should they spend their limited time interacting with analysts via twitter?" Presumably if you're an analyst in the Top 50, 'yes'.

Again, reputation being used for a defined purpose.

Ross Dawson wrote a good piece about the changes coming due to the increasing visibility of "people's actions and character." He notes the impact of reputation on seeking professionals for work:

"Many professionals will be greatly impacted by these shifts. The search for professional advice is often still highly unstructured, based on anecdotal recommendations or simple searches. As importantly, clients of large professional firms may start to be more selective on who they wish to work with at the firm, creating a more streamlined meritocracy.

The mechanisms for measuring professional reputation are still very crude, yet over the coming decade we can expect to see substantial changes in how professionals are found. This will impact many facets of the industry."

And Bertrand Dupperin sees a similar dynamic playing out internally:

"Use internal social networks to build a kind of marketplace that would put work capacity and competence on a given subject in relation with needs and allow those who can apply for an assignment instead of blind assignments to those who can't."

In a world where individuals emerge as important sources of information, products and services, people will need a way to break through the limited knowledge they'll have on any one person. Look for online reputations to emerge as a way to fill that gap.

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Hutch CarpenterHutch Carpenter is the Vice President of Product at Spigit. Spigit integrates social collaboration tools into a SaaS enterprise idea management platform used by global Fortune 2000 firms to drive innovation.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Is Collaboration or Competition Better for Innovation?

by Stephen Shapiro

Collaborative or Competitive Innovation?At the Open Innovation Summit last week, I had a lively conversation with a few individuals. The debate was about which model of open innovation is most effective - competitive or collaborative.

Kevin Boudreau and Karim Lakhani wrote an excellent article earlier this year in the MIT Sloane Management Review on this very topic. They looked at the merits of each form of open innovation. I encourage you to read the article as it addresses factors like intrinsic and extrinsic forms of motivation.

InnoCentive uses both forms of open innovation in different environments.

Their 'marketplace' model is competitive. That is, when posting challenges to their network of 185,000 experts, the solvers cannot see any of the other solutions. One reason for using this model is that the intellectual property needs to be protected.

This is in contrast to InnoCentive's @Work product which is used to broadcast challenges internally to employees. With this product, solutions are provided in a collaborative fashion where solvers can see all responses. Given that only employees are participating, intellectual property issues are not as critical.

The competition/collaboration debate reminds me of the Miller Lite commercials - "Tastes Great...Less Filling."

It also reminds me of the hand dryer versus paper towel debate (in terms of efficacy - not impact on the environment, which is a different debate).

After much experimentation, I have the long awaited answer: Use paper towels first followed by the hand dryer. The paper towel gets off most of the water so that the hand dryer can quickly evaporate the remaining liquid. The best solution for drying your hands is not one approach, but a combination of the two... in the right order.

I believe that the answer is the same for the competition versus the collaboration debate. It is not an either/or proposition.

From my experience, you start with competition followed by collaboration. Here's why:

If you start with collaboration, you end up with "group think" very quickly. That is, as soon as the first idea is thrown out, it tends to influence the thinking of the other contributors. This narrows the set of ideas that are typically generated. Therefore, if you start with a competition, you get the broadest set of ideas possible.

Then, after selecting the winners of the competition, you take the best ideas and allow a collaborative community to flesh them out. This gives you get a much richer solution in the end.

This approach models the most effective way of running brainstorming sessions. It works best when you first have each person independently write down their own creative ideas. Only after everyone generates their own list does the group come together. Then they share ideas, select the best ones, and expand upon those best ideas collaboratively. Individual thought followed by group throught. Competition followed by collaboration.

IMHO, the same is holds true for open innovation.

Of course there are a variety of factors that may require the use of one approach over the other (e.g., intellectual property protection), but there are even ways to address that. But more on that in another blog post.

P.S. I'm serious about using paper towels first followed by the hand dryer...
P.P.S. If you are not aware, I am InnoCentive's Chief Innovation Evangelist.

Stephen ShapiroStephen Shapiro is the author of three books, a popular innovation speaker, and is the Chief Innovation Evangelist for Innocentive, the leader in Open Innovation.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

10 Ways to Make Innovation Accessible

When companies, non-profits, and governments create products and services that better meet customer needs, there is less waste of human capital and natural resources, and everyone wins. That's why Blogging Innovation's mission is:

"To make innovation and marketing insights accessible for the greater good."

So, how can you help Blogging Innovation achieve this mission?

It's simple. Here are a few quick and easy ways to help:
  1. If you have knowledge to share, then write an article for Blogging Innovation

  2. Tell your corporate, non-profit, government, and entrepreneurial colleagues about us

  3. Cover an innovation or insights conference for Blogging Innovation

  4. Write an article about us on your blog

  5. Create a MyAlltop page and add Blogging Innovation to it from the innovation page

  6. StumbleUpon or Digg some of our articles

  7. Share some of our articles on facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter

  8. Forward our monthly newsletter to your colleagues

  9. Contact us about translating some of our articles for your non-English site

  10. Contribute to the discussions and news item collections in the Continuous Innovation group

If you have any other ideas on how to bring more innovation and marketing insights to more people, and raise the baseline innovation understanding out there even higher, please contact us.

Braden KelleyBraden Kelley is the editor of Blogging Innovation and founder of Business Strategy Innovation, a consultancy focusing on innovation and marketing strategy. Braden is also @innovate on Twitter.

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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Innovating for Fun and Social Good

by Braden Kelley

I came across this on sitsite.com's blog and had to share it. After all, we could all use a little more fun in our lives, and if some social good can be achieved in the process, all the better!

It is from a Swedish site advertising a contest that will award a 2,500 Euro prize for the idea that best exemplifies the premise that:

"something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people's behaviour for the better. Be it for yourself, for the environment, or for something entirely different, the only thing that matters is that it's change for the better."

To see more examples or to enter the contest, please visit The Fun Theory site. The campaign and competition are sponsored by Volkswagen - Smart move!

Braden KelleyBraden Kelley is the editor of Blogging Innovation and founder of Business Strategy Innovation, a consultancy focusing on innovation and marketing strategy. Braden is also @innovate on Twitter.

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mumbai's Innovation Hub

by Vyoma Kapur

Dharavi RecyclingInnovation in the developing world, as many people may tend to think, comes from either large conglomerates or small entrepreneurial communities which have had the good fortune of venture backing. Especially in a free market economy, such as India's, innovation is often thought of as the mandate of thriving businesses equipped with the know-how.

In Mumbai, India's economic powerhouse, the real social innovation is coming from the grassroots. These are people, who despite having little, are the answer to Mumbai's mounting waste management problem.

The dwellers of the Dharavi slum, the largest in Asia, have created a massive recycling industry. Invaluable for the social impact it has created, the slum's existence is supported by high-strung officials and ordinary civilians alike. Using simple machines in their home factories, these dwellers are recycling anything from plastic bottles and metal cans to paper and cotton, saving the city from the wrath of its own garbage. Over 80% of the plastic waste of Mumbai is recycled in the Dharavi slum.

As the consumerism of Mumbai's upper and middle classes disposes of thousands of tons of waste material everyday, energetic young men of Dharavi sift through piles of trash to gather anything with the potential of being recycled. Different types of junk is given a new life and then sold for a bargain. With support from non-profit organizations such as ACORN International, rag-pickers are taught how to manage solid dry waste.

With an increasing number of micro-entrepreneurs entering the recycling business, this industry has seen an astonishing level of organic growth. The slum produces a jaw-dropping $1.3 billion worth of recycled output every year. There are approximately 400 recycling units, and the number is increasing every month.

Spreading across approximately 174 hectares, this slum is like any other. It lacks food and proper sanitation and is rife with squalor. For a few hours everyday, some areas of the slum are supplied water and electricity. Despite making only a fraction of the salaries earned by their counterparts in more developed areas of Mumbai, many of these dwellers are finally finding their way out of poverty through the huge demand for their services. Needless to say, environmentalists are in full praise of this green industry, a rarity in the hustling cites of India.

Having spent a few years in India, I find this commendable. I have not seen the Dharavi slum, however; I've seen many other slums, just like those depicted in Slumdog Millionaire. That slum dwellers could become social entrepreneurs within their own capacity to fight for survival never crossed my mind.

The Dharavi example made me wonder; do we always need a team of experts and comprehensive research data to innovate? Is it not about solving the problems in front of us and seeking ways to improve what is defined and traditional? To the Dharavi dwellers, the waste piled up around their homes was not a problem, it was an opportunity. They became rag-pickers and set up mini factories with whatever little they had. In time, they turned Dharavi from being Mumbai's biggest headache to one of its greatest assets, setting an example for similar communities around the world.

Vyoma KapurA marketing professional turned entrepreneur, Vyoma avidly supports and practices open innovation. Earlier this year, she founded Colspark LLC (www.colspark.com), a crowdsourcing platform to help companies tap into student talent for ideas and solutions.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Creative Capitalism + Social Innovation

New Social Enterprises That Make Money and Change the World

A Need for More Social Innovation

by Idris Mootee

We need more (and more innovative) social enterprises and I really want to see a top tier MBA programs with specialization in Social Enterprises. Call it B-school needs S-school. There are so many problems out there and sometimes we feel we are almost giving up. Our capitalist system is not adjusting well to these shocks. It is almost pointless for these endless debates on how things got to this point and who is to blame. The point remains: We've got to change it - and change it fast - and change it for the better.

The last thing we want to replace these problems with a set of newer problems, I've seen in many case when smart people think they have a solution, but they are simply migrating the problems. There is hope. The good surprise is that business - the same institutions that bear a fair amount of the responsibility for the current situation - is also the most potent force for bringing change. No government alone can make that happen. Businesses are powerful, if we can align the forces. There are hundreds of social enterprises are doing exactly that.

Who invented the social enterprise? Or the better idea is how do we reinvent social enterprises so they can be good business and good citizens. Not good business and bad citizens or bad business good citizens. Peter Drucker argued that in this post-capitalist society (not sure I agree with that tern), managers must learn to negotiate a new environment with a different set of work rules and career expectations. Businesses exist to serve social purposes, they have to function in ways that make sense to the society in which they are situated - and in the case of multinational corporations, they often have to function in ways that make sense across more than one society, at a deep level.

Social enterprises can change the world for the much, much better. If social entrepreneurs can navigate around the challenges and become some of the most popular brands of the world. For now, they need to improve the odds and make sure that they can proof that it works. I am very convinced that the concept works, it is just exceptional challenges that needed to be overcome. Some realities. I don't know the success rate of social enterprises. I don't think it is higher or lower than the average business. Like any business, social enterprises fail - because businesses fail. But how come social enterprise didn't scale - like many other businesses with successful business models?

The way I see it, it is not uncommon that traditional social enterprises did not attract the best and the brightest entrepreneurs, many are into the mission and not interested in the business. The other reason is there is a lack of appetite or aspiration for them to take it global or to a larger scale. And then there is the question of capital availability and time frame to achieve scale. Too many are forced to think survival, rather than innovation and growth. There needs to be series ambitions to make sure the social enterprises is leverage its mission and commitment to changing the world and transform our future. That's a big mission. And it is not mutually exclusive to pursue the mission and not ignoring the competitive dynamics of the industry that you operate in. What's the best example? Here is one.

Rubicon Programs is a $16mm social enterprise in SF focusing on helping with employment. It started initially as a drop-in center in Richmond, California, for very low-income people with severe disabilities. Their first social enterprises were very small programs that were seen more providing with some training than anything else. Today Rubicon has evolved into an organization that today serves low-income, homeless and mentally disabled people in the businesses, housing and services it provides. About one-third of the people currently served have a mental health disability, so its original focus is still a part, but not the largest part, of what Rubicon does. It is a one-stop shop for those trying to escape poverty. It not only helps clients find homes and jobs but also offers career, mental heath, and family counseling, as well as technological training and money-management programs.

Take Rubicom Bakery as an example, they produce a range of delicious cakes and tarts. The high-quality and handcrafted products are baked from "scratch" recipes and use only the best of ingredients including fresh-grated carrots, Maine blueberries, real butter and Dutch chocolate. We use absolutely no preservatives and our products include no transfats. The bakery also serves as a unique training center, preparing people for employment with Rubicon or other employers. Job training, counseling, and peer support provided in a dedicated baking workshop, classroom with audio-visual capacities, and a job search center with computer terminals help participants develop their work and life skills. Everything integrated, almost like the Cornell School of Hotel Management. There is even an online store too.

Idris MooteeIdris Mootee is the CEO of idea couture, a strategic innovation and experience design firm. He is the author of four books, tens of published articles, and a frequent speaker at business conferences and executive retreats.

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Monday, October 05, 2009

Problems - An Opportunity for Radical Innovation

by Rowan Gibson

Tata NanoTake a break from all the negative news about the economy. On my speaking trip to India, I was struck by the unbounded optimism in business circles. Sure, growth might be temporarily slowing, which may put the damper on investments for a short while. But, Indians have learned to take the long view. Whether the value of the Dollar, or the price of oil, or even the whole US economy goes up or down, they know the future is still gravitating irreversibly toward Asia.

India is one of the only countries I know where you come down to the hotel restaurant in the morning and most of the people in the room seem to be having laptops and PDAs for breakfast. I mean, there's literally no room on the table for the food! It's like "Breakfast is for bevakoofs!" (Hindi for "idiots"). The talk at these tables is all about growth percentages and expansion plans. And don't expect much of a change at lunch or even dinner. This is a nation that has come to live and breathe business.

Mira Kamdar, in her book "Planet India", points to a simple premise that appears to be at the heart of India's remarkable success: "Treat every problem as an opportunity." It was this attitude, after all, that led India in the late 1990s to step up and offer to help the U.S. with its looming Y2K computer crisis. Where else were American companies going to find enough low-cost, English-speaking software engineers to do all the drudge work of Y2K readjustment? And when the year 2000 came and went, without airplanes dropping out of the sky and nuclear power stations turning into mushroom clouds, those same American companies started wondering what else they could outsource to India on the cheap: e-commerce, IT support operations, call centers, services, even mission critical applications. Thus the Indian IT industry - and as a consequence the whole Indian economy - went into overdrive. No wonder Thomas Friedman, author of "The World is Flat", argues that "Y2K should be a national holiday in India, a second Indian Independence Day".

Indian AttitudeI see this same 'problem as opportunity' attitude when I talk to Indian companies of every stripe. When I asked one CEO recently about the impact of the weak Dollar on his business, his reply was stunningly upbeat. "Oh," he said with a grin, "that really works in our favor. It's going to make it much easier for us to expand in the U.S. market. Now we can buy up American companies at bargain basement prices".

Of course, India doesn't have to go out looking for problems to solve. It has enough of those on its own doorstep. With 40% of the world's poor, one-third of the world's malnourished children, 800 million people in need of education and proper employment, the world's single largest population of people infected with HIV/AIDS (not to mention other widespread diseases), 17% of the world's population but only 4% of the world's freshwater, a looming energy crisis, relentless terrorism, and a dreadfully damaged environment, India faces some of the most daunting challenges on the planet today.

"Treat every problem - including a deep social need - as an opportunity for radical innovation."

That's where there's a need for innovation at an unprecedented scale. Not just innovation in the traditional business sense, but 'social innovation' that addresses the needs of India's society, schools, healthcare systems, cities, and environment. Thirty years ago, the late great Peter Drucker pointed out that this, too, is an important definition of innovation. In his seminal book "Management" he writes that modern social needs "are not too different in kind from those which the nineteenth-century entrepreneur converted into growth industries - the urban newspaper and the streetcar; the steel-frame skyscraper and the school textbook; the telephone and pharmaceuticals". India, perhaps more than any other country on earth, has recognized the need to turn its social problems into opportunities for innovation, and is rising to the challenge in a grand way.

Look anywhere in India today and we see exciting examples of social innovation combined with profitable business innovation. And behind each of these examples we usually find some wonderfully heroic entrepreneur who has battled with heart and soul to give ordinary people a better life. I think of Dr. Reddy, founder of Apollo Hospitals Group, who is using state-of-the-art technologies, breakthrough business models, and revenues from medical outsourcing and medical tourism, to put world-class healthcare within almost everyone's reach. I think of economist Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank, who pioneered the concept of micro-credit, and in the process became the world's first "banker to the poor". I think of Ratan Tata, India's answer to Henry Ford, whose tiny $2,500 Nano automobile (the same price as a Louis Vuitton handbag!) is set to do for mass mobility in this century what Ford's Model-T did in the last. I think of amazingly unpretentious Narayana Murthy, now retired cofounder of Infosys, who has repeatedly demonstrated his belief in 'compassionate capitalism' - an altogether different paradigm that focuses not just on wealth creation but on making a significant contribution to society.

Three cheers for India's irrepressible optimism and can-do spirit in the face of almost impossible odds. What many in the country have clearly figured out is that every great challenge presents enormous opportunities, and that success at innovation is about much more than revenues and profits; it's about doing well by doing good. There's a lesson in this for all of us.

Rowan GibsonRowan Gibson is widely recognized as one of the world's leading experts on enterprise innovation. He is co-author of the bestseller "Innovation to the Core" and a much in-demand public speaker around the globe. On Twitter he is @RowanGibson.

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Smarter Cities - Smarter Planet

by Hutch Carpenter

IBM Smarter CitiesIBM recently launched its Smarter Cities initiative. Part of its overall SmarterPlanet project, Smarter Cities is an effort to find solutions to the problems that will occur due to our ever-increasing population growth in urban centers around the world:

"In 1900, only 13% of the world's population lived in cities. By 2050, that number will have risen to 70%. We are adding the equivalent of seven New Yorks to the planet every year.

This unprecedented urbanization is both an emblem of our economic and societal progress - especially for the world's emerging nations - and a huge strain on the planet's infrastructure. It's a challenge felt urgently by mayors, heads of economic development, school administrators, police chiefs and other civic leaders."

IBM has the smarts and global heft to be a major voice in innovating solutions for the problems that urban population growth will bring on. And of course, it doesn’t hurt that there will be government expenditures to make sure we've got the infrastructure ready.

IBM CEO Sam Palmisano laid out three fundamental changes to global urban areas:
  1. Our world is becoming instrumented: Sensors and devices are coming down in cost, and increasing in functionality, giving us "for the first time ever, real-time instrumentation of a wide range of the world's systems"

  2. Our world is becoming interconnected: With the rise of devices with these sensors, "systems and objects can now 'speak' to one another"

  3. All things are becoming intelligent: Better sensors, increased computing power and more information from interconnection mean that "intelligence can be translated into action, making our systems, processes and infrastructures more efficient, more productive and responsive-in a word, smarter."

The sensors thing is interesting. I've heard both Tim O'Reilly and Paul Saffo talk about sensors as the big area of technology growth and opportunity.

As part of this initiative, IBM (in conjunction with Spigit) is running a series of prediction markets that you can participate in. The objective is to tap the collective wisdom of people around the world. Here are the prediction markets for which they're seeking your perspectives:

  • Which approach will be most effective in enabling better education outcome within a major city? (link)

  • In order to increase the proportion of the population completing high school by 10% over the next five years; major cities will begin transforming education in what way (link)

  • Which company offers the best portfolio regarding Smarter Transportation? (link)

  • In a major city, what will need to be improved in order to make transportation more efficient? (link)

  • What enhancement can a major city make over the next year to be a global technology leader in public transportation? (link)

  • What transportation enhancement will a major city, like New York, need to make to relieve its traffic congestion? (link)

  • Which of the following will be the most important to the rapid deployment and adoption of Smart Grids? (link)

  • Over the next five years, what changes should a major city first implement to reduce energy waste and use its resources efficiently? (link)

  • Which of the following will reduce household energy consumption the most within a major city like New York? (link)

  • Which of the following should be a primary objective for a major city over the next five years? (link)

Government Services
  • The current economic crisis will change plans for high priority projects in a major city in which way over the next few years? (link)

  • If you were a mayor of a major city, which method would you use to assess the needs of your city, the business community and your citizens? (link)

  • In 2011, what will be the primary method for citizens to communicate with their smarter city governments? (link)

  • What immediate step should a major city government take over the next year to emerge as a leader in e-governance? (link)

Public Safety
  • Over the next five years, what transformation will large cities make to their public safety systems to reduce the physical / personal crime rate against people, property, and infrastructure by half (50%)? (link)

  • If a large city wants to improve its overall public safety position (i.e. reducing traffic fatalities, decreasing gang violence, improving emergency response capabilities) in which public safety area (or related city sub-system) should it target investment over the next year? (link)

  • Which of the following sub-system improvement will be most effective in providing immediate benefit to healthcare delivery for citizens in a leading smarter city? (link)

  • Over the next five years, what will major city hospitals do to increase efficiency and deliver better quality healthcare to its citizens? (link)

  • What are the top challenges large cities (i.e. populations over 5M) within emerging markets will face within the next five years? (link)

  • What region(s) will recover most quickly from the current global economic crisis? (link)

If addressing these issues is something that interests you, check out IBM's SmarterCities Predictive Idea Markets.

Hutch CarpenterHutch Carpenter is the Director of Marketing at Spigit. Spigit integrates social collaboration tools into a SaaS enterprise idea management platform used by global Fortune 2000 firms to drive innovation.

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Social Innovation as Smart Business Strategy

Businesses Can Be Good Stewards Of Our Societies

social innovation education

by Idris Mootee

Innovation takes many forms, but social innovation is the least understood form, and today there are pressing needs and urge for the creation, adoption and diffusion of innovations. Innovation's several forms include: technological, organizational, product, service, business model, etc. The term 'social innovation' has come into common parlance in recent years. Some may consider social innovation no more than a passing fad, but many entrepreneurs and social scientists see significant value in the concept of social innovation because it identifies a critical type of innovation.

Social Innovation Welcome
Social innovations will probably be the most significant innovation type in the next decades. Some distinguish social innovation from business innovation, and identify a subset of social innovations that requires government support, which I totally disagree with. Business innovation should have a socal innovation component when we think about sustainability.

A good business strategy needs to be more than about just maximizing value creation. It is important to make lots of money, but more important to ensure the business is sustainable. Our future is in the hands of a couple thousand top Fortune 500 executives who are already very occupied with the daily crisis, and whom make decisions that impact our future. They need to understand the long-range implications and impacts of their immediate, everyday, urgent actions and decisions in relation to the far-reaching social innovations now taking place (which are management's new and most significant dimension). This is a critical junction of modern management.

Social Innovation India
Last month, my friend Mehmood Khan (photo above), London based ex-Unilever's global leader of innovation process development, took a public oath in his home village of Nai Nangla in India that he would dedicate the rest of his life to making the world a better place. He is starting from his home village in India. I wish more executives whould do that. Imagine the possibilities if all the smart minds in large corporations started taking a little time off to do this?

He left his job at Unilever to return India to focus on innovation of a different kind. Khan's job is to forge connections between the village of Mewat and big corporations to create employment. A year ago, Aviva, the UK's biggest insurer, was looking to build its rural presence in India. Khan's trust connected the company with 60 local young people and 12 were ultimately recruited. "It's a cycle that generates money... Aviva hired some people whose income went up... This creates a market economy," Khan told Forbes magazine. He has set up a computer center in Nai Nangla. He has also facilitated ICICI Bank to recruit 16 of the 30 villagers trained in the first intake. Khan also engaged charities and NGOs to administer literacy programs. He is full of creative ideas on how corporations can participate in helping.

Social Innovation
The question is should companies' role in meeting basic needs be kept distinct from their desire to create more profits? For Khan, the two can work together. I totally believe that is possible and even necessary. The lines between business strategy and social innovation have blurred and converged as the business world attempts to respond to the modern culture's demand that businesses be good stewards of our societies. Hats off to Mehmood and Aviva.

Aviva is a bold and innovative player in the insurance industry (full disclosure: they are a client of ours and this is one of our innovation projects). Most people feel that insurance is just a black box and,you'll never interact with them. For many it becomes very difficult to see the value in insurance. As an expansion to their successful "Change Insurance" communications platform, Aviva has launched "In Your Shoes" which is a site dedicated to viewing the opinions and thoughts of customers about insurance. We started playing with the idea a few months back based on the notion of using storytelling to create customer engagement.

Aviva Social Innovation

Idris MooteeIdris Mootee is the CEO of idea couture, a strategic innovation and experience design firm. He is the author of four books, tens of published articles, and a frequent speaker at business conferences and executive retreats.

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Monday, September 07, 2009

What is Government's Role in Innovation?

by Jeffrey Phillips

Government InnovationRecently a number of bloggers and Tweeters have linked to an interview with Greg Bialecki, who works for the governor of Massachusetts on economic development. The question posed to Bialecki was "What is the appropriate role for state government in accelerating innovation?". Bialecki does a good job of straddling the many sides of the question, noting that many businesses are against more government involvement, since they believe it will lead to regulation and taxes, or favortism.

But the question is a good one. At any level of government, from a city to state or province to a federal or national government, what is the appropriate role for the government in an innovation policy or strategy? It seems to me to break down into three likely outcomes.

The first is based on the Apollo program. In this instance the government identifies a significant need or opportunity and challenges itself and industry to achieve it (put a man on the moon before the end of the decade). Note that the statement doesn't dictate specific technologies or vendors. It is a challenge that created excitement and enthusiasm. Government agencies, private industry and other organizations then asked themselves - OK, if we are going to achieve this seemingly difficult mission, what is necessary for us to do? Then they went on to solve a number of engineering challenges and captured the attention of the nation. Thousands of kids (I'm one) wanted to become an astronaut because of the excitement and glamor. I think that this kind of effort - creating a challenge that engages all of the population - is one involvement in innovation that governments should have continuously. Right now, rather than creating a 1000 page health care plan, the government should set a specific goal and ask all of us to help achieve that. Perhaps the goal is universal coverage with no increase in healthcare outlays. We need big challenges to come together and overcome these hurdles.

This leads to the second possible government involvement - selecting preferred industries or technologies. Government involvement in selecting the "best" or preferred industries or technologies is fraught with hazard. Left to its own devices, the government that created ARPANET might still be monopolizing the ability to communicate and interact. Clearly any government with research facilities should be responsible for generating new research, but not selecting which technologies are approved or disapproved. Government involvement at that level and scale is bound to be tied up with political favoritism and will be showered on the largest and most powerful (see for example the GM bailout, or the bailout of larger banks).

The third kind of involvement is something rarely seen in the US outside of the Defense Department - a public/private partnership. The government could easily define specific issues or challenges it faces and create opportunities for innovation to address these specific issues. While this does occur on a limited basis today, the contracting rules and the size and influence of incumbents make it difficult for smaller firms or new entrants to compete. This means that many of the same old tired ideas and concepts are constantly recycled. If the Federal government could open itself up to more innovation around its biggest challenges, and invite a wide array of innovators and reduce the issues around contracting, it could create an entirely new innovation community which might significantly impact its ability to govern and its ability to deliver services. Secondarily to these outcomes would be the scaling of new ideas which could then flow back into the private sector. Thus, the government could be an incubator of ideas that eventually benefit the private sector. To a certain extent, this was true in the 40s, 50s and 60s, but as significant government research has dwindled, less innovation flows out of the government. We could easily turn the tables by asking the citizens and industries to respond to innovation challenges.

From my perspective, I don't want to see any government picking industries or technologies. I do want the government to identify key challenges and needs, and bring together the best minds to create innovative solutions. Currently, one of the biggest stumbling blocks to innovating with, or for, any government is the bureaucratic hurdles involved in contracting, and the over-reliance on existing "beltway bandits" who have long incumbancy but little innovation incentive. Let's open up the interactions, bring more people and firms into the innovation arena and have governments define the big challenges and turn the rest of us to work.

Jeffrey PhillipsJeffrey Phillips is a senior leader at OVO Innovation. OVO works with large distributed organizations to build innovation teams, processes and capabilities. Jeffrey is the author of "Make us more Innovative", and innovateonpurpose.blogspot.com.

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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Identifying Innovation

I want to return to an issue that sparked some healthy debate a few weeks ago but didn't go far enough in my opinion.

When Michele Obama first announced the Office of Social Innovation, bloggers like Allison Fine posed some really important questions about what is meant by innovation and how to ensure that the government doesn't just reward the largest and most tested programs in lieu of smaller, sometimes newer, and even untested efforts at innovation. I'd like to pose this same question to the philanthropic sector.

How does innovation get funded and are we ok with the way it currently works?

Everybody knows that these are tough times for nonprofits and even tougher times for new nonprofits, IssueLab among them. We frequently hear from foundations that they are only supporting their existing grantees or that they aren't currently accepting proposals from organizations they don't already know. (A recent online discussion about grantwriting at Charity Channel only underscored the fact that we are hardly alone in this experience.) It's not that I don't understand the pressures foundations are under but if they aren't going to fund newcomers for the next two years how exactly will innovation get funded? And what sorts of innovative projects will simply disappear because they don't have the necessary funds to continue their work?

The difficulty in even introducing new ideas to potential funders reflects what I think are two conflicting values at work here. Foundations (and the government) want to support innovation but at the same time they place enormous value on legitimacy. We see this everyday in the work that we do at IssueLab. One of our core missions is to build visibility for the work of smaller nonprofits. There is no shortage of great research coming from organizations that maybe produce one or two reports a year. But these reports don't get the kind of search engine rankings, graphic treatment, traffic, or audience that are too often confused with legitimate research.

Anyone who has ever read anything about job training programs knows the critical role that legitimacy plays in the vicious cycle of poverty. If you don't look the part you don't get the job and if you don't get the job you will never have the resources to look the part. The second nasty thing about legitimacy is of course the question of access. Organizations and individuals who lack legitimacy also lack access. And in the case of funding innovation, they simply lack access to funding opportunities and to exposure for their ideas. At IssueLab we spend a great deal of time actively searching for research from smaller organizations. It's key to the work we do and it's why our collection can include research from a small after-school media project alongside research from the MacArthur Foundation. What will foundations and the Office of Social Innovation do to identify innovative projects?

What are the equivalent measures in the sector for judging the legitimacy of organizations? Other funders, name recognition, buzz, scale, earned income revenue, the ability to measure results and impact? How many innovative startup projects and organizations can claim all these measures? And will they have access to either the Office of Social Innovation or to ever scarcer foundation funding?

If as a sector we don't answer these questions, I am afraid we won't even know what we're missing!

Gabriela Fitz is the Co-Director of IssueLab, a publishing forum for nonprofit research. She and her team blog about third sector research on IssueLab's blog "FootNotes"

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Is Crowdsourcing a Fad or a Foundational Element?

Much has been written about 'crowdsourcing' and the 'wisdom of the crowd' over the past couple of years, including "Crowdsourcing" by Jeff Howe - a contributing editor at Wired magazine, and "Wisdom of the Crowd" by James Surowiecki - a staff writer at The New Yorker.

Crowdsourcing - "The act of taking a job traditionally performed by a designated agent (usually an employee) and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people in the form of an open call." - Jeff Howe

'Wisdom of the Crowd' - "Refers to the process of taking into account the collective opinion of a group of individuals rather than a single expert to answer a question." - Wikipedia

For those of you not familiar with crowdsourcing, here is a good video from Jeff Howe:

So, what will happen to 'crowdsourcing' and 'wisdom of the crowd' as more and more companies start to employ these techniques.

Will the crowd remain wise or lose its predictive powers?

One thing is certain. Organizations will continue to use 'crowdsourcing' and 'wisdom of the crowd' together to help them find ideas that will resonate with their targets.

Organizations will, however, have to work harder to market their initiatives as the competition increases for people's time, if they are to maximize the value they accrue from the effort.

What do you think?


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Monday, February 23, 2009

Social Innovation Camp II

I love to support causes like Social Innovation Camp by doing what I can to help raise their visibility.

Social Innovation Camp is an organization in the United Kingdom that selects and brings together social entrepreneurs with ideas to help the participants for an intense 48 hours to help move their ideas forward into web application prototypes. Check out the video:

Social Innovation Camp II, Dec 2008 from The People Speak on Vimeo.

To find out more about Social Innovation Camp, please go here.

What do you think?


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