Tag Archives: WOBI

John Kao – Mr. Creativity on Large Scale Cultures of Innovation

Kao_JohnA lot of companies are starting to have earnest discussions about innovation. My own company strives to build a “culture of innovation” making it part of the fabric of everything we do.  But what does that look like?

Dubbed “Mr. Creativity” by The Economist, John Kao calls himself an innovation activist.  He is chairman of the Institute for Large Scale Innovation, whose i20 group is an association of 30 national ‘Chief Innovation Officers.’  John coined the term “large scale innovation” to refer to innovation as a societal agenda.  He has advised numerous nations and regions on innovation strategy and execution, including Finland, Singapore, the City of San Francisco, Abu Dhabi and elements of the US government as well as the European Union innovation policy team.

And as the last keynote speaker at the World Innovation Forum, I got to hear his response to his corporate clients trying to build a culture of innovation.  With several wise words and a few musical performances, John earned his nickname and my respect. Continue reading

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Kairos Society – Tomorrow’s Leaders on Today’s Problems

"Innovation is about thinking outside thebox.  give them your insight and see what the bright minds of tomorrow come up with."
 

"Innovation is about thinking outside thebox. give them your insight and see what the bright minds of tomorrow come up with."

“Innovation is about thinking outside the box. Give them your insight and see what the bright minds of tomorrow come up with.”

Ankur Jain is the founder and chairman of the Kairos Society. The Kairos Society is an international, student-run, not-for-profit foundation based in the United States that brings passionate young entrepreneurs together from all over the world and asks them to tackle the worlds toughest challenges. Ankur doesn’t just believe that they can solve these challenges, he also believes that by fostering inside tomorrow’s leaders a belief that they will do well by doing good, that they will impact the quality of life for the global population on a large scale.  Continue reading

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Vivek Kundra – U.S. Government CIO

"Put the citizen at the heart of Government Services- they are the customer, not the bureaucracy."

“Put the citizen at the heart of Government Services- they are the customer, not the bureaucracy.”

Vivek Kundra is an Indian American administrator who served as the first chief information officer of the United States from March, 2009 to August, 2011 under President Barack Obama. As CIO of the U.S. Government,  Vivek was one of the first to champion the use of cloud technology in the public sector. He believes in high level accountability for every IT project and was passionate about the ability to use government collected data to drive real consumer improvement.  I had the opportunity to hear Vivek speak as an Innovator at the World Innovation Forum.

Vivek’s first actions as CIO were centered around restructuring the project portfolio.  Many of the Government IT projects were millions of dollars over budget, and still years off schedule. He added three key strategies to focus spending and increase accountability: Continue reading

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George Whitesides – Virgin Galactic

"Only 541 people have been to space (total). Within two years we will double that number."

“Only 541 people have been to space (total). Within two years we will double that number.”

George Whitesides is the CEO and President of Virgin Galactic, the spaceflight company founded by Sir Richard Branson. Prior to Virgin Galactic, Whitesides served as Chief of Staff for NASA, where he provided policy and staff support to the agency’s Administrator. Upon departure from the agency he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, the highest award the agency confers.

During this talk at the WOBI conference I was just in awe. There isn’t much to say after a video like that. I am unbelievably excited that the view from space may be something I see in my lifetime with my own eyes.  Especially after my thoughts on the Overview Effect, I think it would do the world a lot of good for people to see the world as one planet, one ecosystem, and not a collection of invisible borders. Companies like Virgin Galactic are pushing the envelope of what’s possible, going where governments have not. Continue reading

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Dan Pink – To Sell is Human

"Whether you are peddling cars in the lot or ideas in the meeting, increase your effectiveness by decreasing your power."

Dan Pink is the author of five provocative bestselling books about the changing world of work. I highly recommend his work, as it is easy to get through and extremely informative.  His talk at the conference was around His book, To Sell is Human, about the art of selling: what has changed, what no longer works, and how to sell in a world of information parity.  Check out the video after the break of the core concepts of his book!

Continue reading

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Will Pearson – Understanding Millennial Influencers

"This is the most educated generation in all of human history.. Resist the urge to dumb it down."

“This is the most educated generation in all of human history.. Resist the urge to dumb it down.”

William E. Pearson is the co-founder of Mental Floss, a bi-monthly magazine, which he started with Mangesh Hattikudur when both were students at Duke University. The idea was to blend knowledge with entertainment in such a way that it would be educational and fun. Mental Floss then started as a magazine, and has since found a way to capture the attention of the Millennial generation through engaging in multiple forms of social media, which is, as many of the most successful brands will tell you, no small feat.  Will’s talk was around how they have learned to engage their fickle audience, and how to embrace the way they view the world when you deliver content. Continue reading

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On Your Feet – The Art of Making it Up

"The secret to Improvisation is Co-Creation. Life is Improvisation, and creativity is the willingness to play."

“The secret to Improvisation is Co-Creation. Life is Improvisation, and creativity is the willingness to play.”

Gary Hirsch co-founded On Your Feet alongside Robert Poynton in 1996. His premise is that business leaders benefit greatly from the skills imparted in improvisational comedy – most notably the concepts of co-creation, acceptance, and “throwing away the script.”

In Improv, you can’t force your partner in any particular direction. You have to respond to what they say, and them to you, without any preparation beforehand.  This often brings unexpected results, and laughter.  The takeaways are so important! Everything in Improv, in business, in life, is an offer.  Continue reading

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Rebecca Henderson – Sustainable Corporate Values

 Rebecca Henderson- Building a sustainable organization, culture, and values

“For the last 50 years we have been focused on reducing our reliance on Labor and Capital. All we have to do now is put the same focus on reducing energy and material dependence.”

In a riveting display of her professorial skills, this co-director of the business initiative at Harvard University “schooled” me on the subject of her career’s research: exploring how organizations respond to large-scale technological shifts, most recently in regard to energy and the environment.

Her success stories, or companies that seem to have been successful in navigating potentially damaging changes to their business, have done so by talking about some previously taboo subjects in capitalism: their values.  She contends that because values are a powerful motivator, and positive motivation has shown to make employees 3x as effective, sharing corporate values could have very positive economic effects.

Industry must become more self-regulating, because national governments just don’t have the jurisdiction to propose meaningful protections everywhere they are needed.  Having clear corporate values can drive to this goal.

Johnson & Johnson has been putting values at the heart of its business model for over a century, and it has paid off. Even after devastating losses in consumer sales due to Consent Decree, J&J acted quickly and responsibly to recall products. Now that these products are starting to return to the shelves, they are finding that the Brand Loyalty has survived, in no small part due to the ethical actions taken to protect their customers, which they put first. When you are against the ropes at a moral fork in the road, there is a lot to gain from taking the highroad.

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Insights from World Innovation Forum 2013

A few weeks ago I attended the World Innovation Forum at the regal New York City Center, a two-day immersive look at what it means to build a culture of innovation, hearing from a broad range of speakers, across countless disciplines. From the experience, I came back to my work and personal life refreshed and invigorated, as is true of most conferences. I think what makes this experience truly unique is that unlike other conferences, Innovation is not an industry specific thing, and yet has become so widely desirable in so many facets of life. I found insights from this experience that I hope to carry across the broad spectrum of my creative endeavors, both personal and professional, and here, I plan to share them with you.

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Michael Martin – Vibram

Michael Martin – From a Marketing Strategy to a Global Movement

“We sold a product that went against everything we ever did in the industry, without a business model, that no customers asked for, that people initially hated, without spending a dollar in marketing.”

Michael Martin, General Manager of the Five Fingered shoes (you know, the “toe shoes”), shared his journey building a product that was doomed to fail according to virtually every conceivable measure of potential future success.

The company’s big break was actually deep in it’s history, when it sold the first rubber soled shoe, going on to supply the US military with all of its footwear. They had proven they could innovate once, why not again? As anyone in a large successful company can attest, it is a lot harder to innovate in a proven, successful market than it is at the start of a company when you have nothing to lose.

As if putting Mauro’s theory into practice, they relied heavily on their loyal customers to advertise their product for them. They have a website where their customers have made three minute videos about what Five Fingers means to them.  Suddenly, this confusing, unwanted product has evolved into the 2010 “Item of the Year” in the Plus awards for design excellence.  All of this is possible because they had the courage to stand by their idea, because of their experience with a young, unproven product. The courage to accept early failure as part of the road to future success is instrumental to building a culture of innovation.

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