Rainforest Rev: Summit Begins, More Wicked Problems

The Rainforest Revolution
News on growing ecosystems for innovation and entrepreneurship

 

Global Innovation Summit + Week is here.

Today we start the world’s greatest conference on creating innovation ecosystems.  We will begin with:

  • Opening Keynote Interview by Mary Kay Magistad of BBC Radio and Public Radio International with Kamran Elahian, Chairman of Global Catalyst Partners.
  • Design Lab #1: The Rainforest Scorecard & Radar, where all will contribute their Rainforest Scorecard data to build the first ever mapping of global innovation ecosystems onto Rainforest Radar charts.

If you’re at the Summit, we hope this newsletter helps stimulate your discussions with the global innovation community. If you couldn’t make it this year, you can still tweet your ideas to #gisw15. We are streaming tweets live throughout the day at the Summit, and we will hear you!

Check out the GISW agenda and calendar at the bottom of the newsletter!

SUMMIT: FEBRUARY 17-19  |  WEEK: FEBRUARY 15-21

 

THE BIG PICTURE


 

Don’t Try to Tame Wicked Problems: Part 2

Alistair Brett, International Technology Commercialization Advisor for T2 Venture Creation, from The Innovation Rainforest (blog)
In the last few years international development organizations seem to be discovering complex systems and wicked problems. The Rainforest Scorecard: A Practical Framework for Growing Innovation Potential is a measurement methodology based on complexity characteristics, and does not assume linear cause-and-effect relationships, but does recognize that ‘emergence’ is a critical feature of complex adaptive systems. Read more here.

 

A Recipe for Success

The Economist
The chance that any new startup will grow into a successful, sustainable company are extremely small. So while the number of startups is often used to measure the health of a particular region’s tech sector, it probably means less in the long-run than being able to account for the number of businesses that have a real chance of succeeding. The researchers from MIT’s Sloan School of Management have developed a new way to evaluate the quality of startups, rather than relying on their quantity to ascertain the strength of any particular tech region. Read more here.

 

Storytelling Your Way to a Better Job or a Stronger Start-Up

The New York Times
The age-old art of storytelling — something humans have done since they could first communicate —has become a new buzzword. In these days of tougher-than-ever job searches, and competition for crowdfunding among start-ups looking to be the next Google or Facebook, it’s not enough just to offer up the facts about you or your company to prospective employers or investors. You need to be compelling, unforgettable, funny and smart. Magnetic, even. You need to be able to answer the question: what makes you so special? You need to have a good story. Read more here.

 

11 Reasons 2015’s Outlook For Women Entrepreneurs Is Coming Up Roses

Forbes
Women entrepreneurs could boost the economy in a way that hasn’t been seen since women entered the workforce in mass numbers in the 20th century, according to Sources of Economic Hope: Women’s Entrepreneurship, a report by the Kauffman Foundation, which researches and advocates for entrepreneurship. Read more here.

 

Couples Counseling for Tech Co-Founders? It’s Actually a Thing

KQED Public Radio
Relationship problems between co-founders is one of the biggest reasons companies don’t make it. Increasingly in Silicon Valley, business partners are looking for help before things go downhill — they’re signing up for couples counseling. An imbalance in co-founder relationships can be insidious. In cases like that, good ideas get dismissed, opportunities are lost. A counselor’s job is to help build trust, communication and empathy. Read more here.

 

THE LATEST NEWS


 

More Incubators Foster Startups in Europe Amid Harsh Economy

The Wall Street Journal
Since the start of a grinding recession six years ago, Europe has seen a sharp increase in the number of business incubators and accelerators, spreading beyond well-known tech clusters in London, Berlin and Stockholm. A study last year tallied a nearly 400% increase in such startup programs since 2007, and found that the number of European programs—260—was roughly comparable to the U.S. on a per capita basis. Read more here.

 

The World’s 10 Fastest Growing Metropolitan Areas

The Brookings Institution
With only 20 percent of the population, the world’s 300 largest metropolitan economies account for nearly half of global economic output. The fastest growing metro areas this year — as measured by Brooking’s Global Metro Monitor, which uses an economic performance index that combines employment and GDP per capita growth — are concentrated in China, Turkey and the Middle East. Read more here.

 

Commerce Dept. Tries to Kickstart U.S.’s Sputtering Entrepreneurial Economy

The Washington Post
Not commonly known as a resource for Silicon Valley-esque start-ups, the Commerce Department plans to announce a pair of new projects intended to support high-growth young companies and help revive the country’s sputtering entrepreneurship engine. Read more here.

 

CALENDAR OF EVENTS



Global Innovation Summit

The Global Innovation Summit is the world’s largest gathering for building ecosystems of innovation and entrepreneurship.  Here’s the agenda.

February 17 to February 19.  Silicon Valley, CA

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 

  • Special Sponsored Breakout Session
    • Dr. Leon Segal, Founder, Innovationship
  • Opening Ceremony: Welcome and Introduction to the Summit
    • Victor W. Hwang, Executive Director
    • Mark Newberg, Deputy Director
  • Opening Keynote Interview
    • Interviewer: Mary Kay Magistad (BBC Radio and Public Radio International)
    • Kamran Elahian (Chairman, Global Catalyst Partners)
  • Design Lab #1: The Rainforest Scorecard & Radar
  • Evening Event: Celebration of Art & Innovation

Wednesday,  February 18, 2015

  • Special Breakfast Session
  • Opening Case Study – The Shinola Story
    • Interviewer: Loren Feldman (Entrepreneurship Editor, Forbes)
    • Bridget Russo (Marketing Director for Shinola and Bedrock Manufacturing)
  • Design Lab #2: Thinking Outside the Box
  • Conversation #1: Design.
  • Innovation Inside: Building Innovative Teams
    • Moderator: Joe Sterling (Head of Consulting, T2 Venture Creation
    • Pablo Salazar Rojo (Managing Director, Naranya Ventures)
    • Natalie Sweeney (Senior Business Innovation Strategy Consultant, Highmark)
    • Jeanine Becker (Lecturer in Law, Stanford Law School)
    • Patrick Davis (Senior Officer for Strategic Initiatives, Calvert Foundation)
    • Emily Lutyens (Co-CEO, Legworks)
  • Rubik’s Cubed: Creative Problem Solving at Scale
    • Moderator: Ade Mabogunje (Senior Research Associate, Stanford University)
    • Megan Kachur (Creative Development Manager of Innovation, Walt Disney World)
    • Conrad Von Igel (Executive Director, Centro De Innovacion)
    • Maggie Hsu (Director of Marketing & External Relations, Las Vegas Downtown Project)
    • Maryann Feldman (Heninger Distinguished Professor, Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
  • Educated Insight: The Reinvention of Learning
    • Moderator: Diana Walker (Principal, Walker Impact Strategies)
    • Mark Hatch (CEO, TechShop)
    • Rick Beyer (President Emeritus, Wheeling Jesuit Univ.)
    • Wanny Hersey (Superintendent & Principal, Bullis Charter School)
    • Wayne Li (Oliver Professor of the Practice of Design & Engineering, School of Industrial Design, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Case Studies: Design of Startup Ecosystems
    • Moderator: Tom Guevara (US Department of Commerce)
    • Prafull Anubhai (Ahmedabad University)
    • Isabel Alvarez-Rodriguez (External Relations, Inter-American Development Bank)
  • Networking Lunch with User-Generated Discussions
  • UAE Interactive Lunch Lab
  • Conversations #2: Capital
  • Atlas Hugged: When Big Money Builds Global Ecosystems
    • Moderator: Mark Newberg (Managing Director, 5 Stone Green Capital)
    • Per Fredrik Ilsass Pharo (Director, Government of Norway’s Climate & Forest Initiative)
    • Jason Baron (Managing Director & Head Portfolio Manager for Social Investments, US Trust)
    • Gordon Myers (Chief Counsel, Technology & Private Equity, International Finance Corporation)
  • Catching Waves: Investing in Emerging Ecosystems
    • Moderator: Allen Taylor (VP, Global Network, Endeavor Global)
    • Paul Breloff (Managing Director, Accion Venture Lab)
    • Jessica Loman (Director of Operations and Impact, Toniic)
    • Walid Bakr (Director, The Abraaj Group)
  • Making it Matter: Impact Investing at the Cutting Edge
    • Moderator: Cathy Clark (Adjunct Professor and Director, CASE i3, Fuqua School of Business, Duke University)
    • Raul Pomares (Founder, Sonen Capital)
    • Miguel Granier (Managing Director, Invested Development)
    • Abigail Noble (Associate Director & Head of Impact Investing Initiatives, World Economic Forum)
  • Case Study: Investing by Geography
    • Moderator: Ben Thornley (Founder & Managing Director, ICAP Partners)
    • Ahmed Alfi (Founder, Sawari Ventures)
    • Nasir Ali (CEO, Upstate Venture Connect)
  • Case Studies: Designing Ecosystems
  • Case Study: The Catchafire Story
    • Rachel Chong (CEO, Catchafire)
    • Moderator: Cynthia Muller (Senior Director of Impact Investing, Arabella Advisors)
  • Financial Health: New Solutions for Underserved Markets
    • Arjan Schutte (Managing Partner, Core Innovation Capital)
    • Jennifer Tescher (President & CEO, Center for Financial Services Innovation)
  • Case Study: Crowdfunding: Circling Up
    • Moderator: Mark Newberg (5 Stone Green Capital)
    • Jason Yuan (CircleUp)
  • Design Lab #3: Building Solution Prototypes
  • Ecosystem Design Gallery
  • European Startup Showcase

Thursday, February 19, 2015

  • Special Breakfast Session
  • Something in the Air: Measuring, Understanding and Driving Innovation Culture
    • Julie Lenzer Kirk (Director of the Office Innovation and Entrepreneurship, U.S. Department of Commerce)
    • Henry Doss (Chief Strategy Officer for T2 Venture Creation)
    • Alistair Brett (International Technology Commercialization Advisor for T2 Venture Creation)
  • Conversation #3: Leadership
  • Phoenix Rising: Triumph Over Crisis
    • Moderator: Michael Lesnick (Senior Partner, Meridian Institute)
    • Dr. Sakena Yacoobi (CEO, Afghan Institute of Learning)
    • Jeff Finkle (President & CEO, International Economic Development Council)
    • Earl Robinson (Principal, RLMcCall Partners)
    • Chid Liberty (CEO, Liberty & Justice)
  • Insight Included: Diversity by Design
    • Moderator: Adiba Barney (CEO, SVForum)
    • Kumardev Chatterjee (Founder & President, European Young Innovators Forum)
    • Ursula Oesterle (Vice President of Innovations, Swisscom)
    • Nola Masterson (Founder & Managing Director, Science Futures)
    • Bill Tobin (Partner, Strayer Consulting Group)
    • Eric Ball (Treasurer & Senior Vice President of Finance, Oracle)
  • Case Studies: Leading the Technology Commercialization Process
    • Moderator: Soody Tronson (Founder and Principal, STLGip, Technology Law Firm)
    • Victor Hwang (Co-Founder & Executive Chairman, Liquidity Corporation)
    • Mir Imran, Chairman & CEO (InCube Ventures)
    • Andrew Farquharson, Managing Director (InCube Ventures)
  • Case Studies: Leading Public Policy to Grow Ecosystems
    • Moderator: Greg Horowitt (T2 Venture Creation)
    • Juan Camilo Quintero (Executive Manager, Ruta N)
    • Chinenye Mba-Uzoukwu (InfoGraphics Nigeria Ltd.)
  • Design Lab #4: Synthesis & Action
  • Closing Keynote Conversation – Fostering the Entrepreneurial Spirit
    • Moderator: Loren Feldman (Entrepreneurship Editor, Forbes)
    • Nancy Pfund (Founder and Managing Partner, DBL Investors)
    • Fadi Ghandour (Founder and Vice Chairman, Aramex)
  • Awards and Closing Ceremony
  • T2 Rainforest Scorecard & Master Plan — Q&A with the Authors
    • Moderator: Joe Sterling (Head of Consulting, T2 Venture Creation
    • Henry Doss (Chief Strategy Officer for T2 Venture Creation)
    • Alistair Brett (International Technology Commercialization Advisor for T2 Venture Creation)


Global Innovation Week

February 15 to February 21.  Silicon Valley, CA

Sunday, February 15

  • 11:00-5:00PM. Family Science Days. Host: American Association for the Advancement of Science. Location: San Jose Convention Center

Monday, February 16

  • 5:00-6:00PM.  Rainforest Architects and Makers Reception (private). Host: T2 Venture Creation. Location: Marriott Hotel, San Jose

Tuesday, February 17 

  • Morning.  Inventing Tomorrow’s Manufacturing. Stanford’s Strategic Foresight & Innovation. Innovation Leadership Board, Lux Research Location: Stanford University.
  • 1:00PM. Hands-On Innovation: Prototype Locally, Innovate Globally
  • 6:15-8:15PM.  Celebration of Art & Innovation. Global Innovation Summit, City of San Jose, and Anno Domini (for registered Summit attendees only). Location: San Jose

Wednesday, February 18

  • 8:00AM. Regional Innovation Ecosystems: Foundations for Growth in the 21st Century
  • 1:00-6:00. The Future of Personalized Vehicles. Host: SVForum.  Location: Quadrus, Menlo Park
  • 5:30-7:30. Greater Phoenix Innovation Showcase. Host: Greater Phoenix Economic Council.
  • 6:00-7:30. European Startup Showcase. EYIF. Location: Marriott Hotel, San Jose
  • 7:30-9:30. TechShop Open House. Host: TechShop. Location: San Jose.

Thursday, February 19

  • 8:00-11:00AM. Tea With a Twist. Host: Global Privat. Location: Marriott Hotel, San Jose
  • 11:00-1:00PM.  Innovation in R&D: Lunch & Learn (by invitation only). Host: BayBio. Location: South San Francisco
  • 2:00-4:00PM. Convening the Conveners (private). Host: Opportunity Collaboration and Global Innovation Summit. Location: Marriott Hotel, San Jose
  • 2:00-6:00PM. Clean Tech Commercialization — Rapid Prototyping for Global Deployment. Host: Urban Innovation Exchange. Location: Prospect Silicon Valley, San Jose
  • 3:00-5:00PM. Startup Funding Disrupted: Understanding the New Venture Ecosystem.  Host: DLA Piper.  Location: Xerox PARC, Palo Alto
  • 5:00-6:30PM. Design Thinking: A New Foundational Science for Engineering and Innovation Ecologies. PARC Forum (with Stanford design researcher Ade Mabogunje).  Host: Xerox PARC.  Host: Palo Alto.
  • 6:00-9:00PM. Entrepreneurship in Brazil. Host: BayBrazil. Location: San Jose

Friday, February 20

  • All Day. International Startup Marketplace. Host: Hult Business School.  Location: San Francisco
  • 8:30-5:00PM (thru Saturday, February 21). Franchise for Humanity: Act for Impact. Host: Franchise for Humanity. Location: Stanford University
  • 2:00-5:00PM Embracing Multicultural Entrepreneurship. Host: Global Filipino Network and STAC Silicon Valley. Location: UCS – Haas School of Business

 

Blackbox Connect Startup Showcase + Dinner Party – powered by Google for Entrepreneurs

February 20th, 5:00-9:30 PM, G|café at Galvanize, 44 Tehama St., San Francisco

Blackbox and Google for Entrepreneurs invite you to a night of startup demos, pitching and networking at the brand new g|café at Galvanize in San Francisco. This will be a very special evening concluding the 10th edition of Blackbox Connect.

16 startups representing 15 countries were selected in partnership with Google for Entrepreneurs’ global network of tech hubs. For 2 weeks the founders live and work together, attending workshops, meeting distinguished executives, accomplished investors, and successful founders from Silicon Valley.

On Friday, February 20th, this handpicked group of international founders will showcase their products and pitch on stage to a panel of investors. We are looking forward to seeing you this special evening, celebrating the accomplishments of these amazing founders and the 10th edition of Blackbox Connect!


The Innovator’s Leadership Imperative

By Henry Doss, Chief Strategy Officer of T2 Venture Creation, from Forbes

To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.  — Theodore Roosevelt

A quick read around in contemporary business writing might show that we are on the verge of elevating innovation and innovators to some kind of mythical status.  It is becoming commonplace to equate those who consciously seek the new, the different, and the disruptive with an exceptional class of leadership and extraordinary business value.   This may very well be true.  But at the end of the day, after all, even innovators are simply people engaged in the world, doing their best.  We elevate innovators to high organizational status at the risk of trivializing what they attempt.

Still, it’s worth remembering that those who choose consciously to cause or lead the growth of innovation in their organizations are engaged in changing things, in breaking things, sometimes in outright destroying things. More than anything else, they array their thinking and their beliefs and their actions in direct confrontation with the status quo.   In this role, innovators make choices and decisions that have implications not only for their own lives and careers and communities, but also for the work and life experience of all those around them.  Innovators make foundational assumptions about change and risk and value, and then seek to instill those very same values into their communities, and other individuals.  This is not an inconsequential matter.

Immanuel Kant took a definitive and uncompromising position about our accountability for truth and for our influence on and interaction with others:  “Act only on the maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.”  At its simplest — and most profound — he is simply calling us to examine our own motivations as if they were universally applicable, and then consider the consequences of that universality.  If we apply this same thinking to our advocacy of innovation, we might begin to reshape our sense of our leadership accountability in ways that can be instructive and even a little sobering.

Anyone who is a champion of innovation is someone who by definition does things differently, and in ways that are almost always disruptive of the norm. Disruption, change and organizational turbulence are stressful and sometimes outright harmful, even when absolutely necessary.  The process of creative destruction — intentional or otherwise –  may very well be a creative process; but it is also after all a process of destruction, and destruction — creative or otherwise — has consequences for organizations and for individuals.  Innovators are the ones who seek out creation of the new and its attendant destruction of the old, and they often relish the process of destroying and rebuilding.  This is their calling and, more often than not, their natural inclination.  And it’s a powerful way of being. But not everyone in an organization will view the prospect of change and innovation as happily .  Therein lies the particular accountability — and leadership challenge — for innovators.

For the natural born innovator, risk and failure are akin to an old, comfortable pair of shoes.   Change for them is a preferred state of being, rather than something to be avoided.  The challenge comes when the risk-inclined begin to interact with and lead the risk-averse.  This presents a challenge on two levels.  It is on the one hand a management and leadership challenge to appropriately introduce risk-tolerance and a nuanced perspective on failure into organizations; on the other hand, it is also an issue of accepting accountability for actively changing other individual’s natural inclination or actions.  It is one thing for someone to be comfortable with risk, but quite another to insist on others adopting or accepting that perspective on risk. The innovator has the twin challenge of both working to help others accept a risk-oriented experience, and of accepting accountability for the consequences that go along with causing change in others.

Much of the success of any innovation culture rests on the foundation of individual and organizational trust systems.  The trust quotient of an organization is stressed and tested when it is being led in a direction where change and uncertainty are the norm.  Ultimately, this is actually a a good thing, because it is trust — given and received — that supports the relationships necessary to lead an organization to accept and embrace risk-based thinking and change.  So, what cultural attribute more than trust should be subject to periodic stress tests?    Change can be mandated, of course; but top-down, fiat-driven change is very unlikely to leave an organization in a powerful place. Change that is led by role models who are willing to accept personal risk to advocate change, and who will appropriately mediate the consequences of disruption, will in turn create long-term, lasting cultural norms amenable to adaptation and innovation.

This is the leadership imperative of anyone who wishes to be an innovator.   The charge is not only to innovate, but to mediate the consequences of innovation; not only to advocate change, but to guide others in embracing change; not only to resist the status quo, but to teach and support others in doing so.  It is this holistic, diverse and trusting leadership stance that will drive innovation over the long haul.

Henry Doss believes leadership will change the world.  His book, The Rainforest Scorecard, provides a guide to the measurement of innovation in organizations.


Rainforest Rev: One Week More, Wicked Problems, Innovation Leadership

The Rainforest Revolution

News on growing ecosystems for innovation and entrepreneurship

 

Count Down: One Week Until Global Innovation Summit + Week Starts.

It’s the greatest conference in the world focused on creating innovation ecosystems, the environments that accelerate the creation of innovative products, new ventures, and economic wealth.  Here’s what you’ll get…

–  Insights: discover how to catalyze and sustain systemic innovation in your company or organization, whether it’s 2 people or 2 million.
–  Practical Tools: learn how to define, solve, and prototype solutions for your challenges in our Design Labs; apply design thinking to overcome tough systemic challenges; hear the experts talk about the latest knowledge and the next big ideas.
–  Networking with Rock Stars: meet and work with pioneers on top of the world in startups, social impact, policy, academia, and creativity.
–  Finding Your Tribe: meet like-minded people who are engaged, passionate, intelligent, and determined. They face the same problems you do.  Together, we seek new ways of thinking and overcoming huge challenges.

Check out the GISW agenda and calendar at the bottom of the newsletter!

Register today at www.innosummit.com.

SUMMIT: FEBRUARY 17-19  |  WEEK: FEBRUARY 15-21

 

THE BIG PICTURE


 

Don’t Try To Tame Wicked Problems: Part 1

Alistair Brett, International Technology Commercialization Advisor for T2 Venture Creation, from The Innovation Rainforest (blog)
A wicked problem is a social or cultural problem that is the opposite of a ‘tame problem.’ Tame problems are susceptible to logical analysis. Wicked problems are not. Most challenges in innovation ecosystems are indeed ‘wicked.’ The wicked problem is difficult to define. It has no single set of criteria for whether solutions are right or wrong.  There is always room for more improvement and potential consequences may continue indefinitely. Every problem can be considered a symptom of another problem. Formulae are of limited value because the problem is non-linear.  Each problem is a one-shot operation. Read more here.

 

The Innovator’s Leadership Imperative

Henry Doss, Chief Strategy Officer of T2 Venture Creation, from Forbes
Much of the success of any innovation culture rests on the foundation of individual and organizational trust systems. The trust quotient of an organization is stressed and tested when it is being led in a direction where change and uncertainty are the norm. Top-down, fiat-driven change is very unlikely to leave an organization in a powerful place. Change that is led by role models who are willing to accept personal risk to advocate change, and who will appropriately mediate the consequences of disruption, will in turn create long-term, lasting cultural norms amenable to adaptation and innovation. Read more here.

 

Angels And Universities: Finding The Next Google

Forbes
Other than Stanford and MIT, few universities have figured out how to transfer their technology into successful startups. One reason for Stanford and MIT’s success is that their professors understand the importance of having relationships with entrepreneurs and investors. Their technology transfer offices understand that a successful partnership means more than a big corporate licensing agreement. Faculty, university tech transfer offices, startup entrepreneurs and investors each has a different agenda, unique culture, language and approach leading to misaligned needs. Read more here.

 

Innovation Alone Won’t Fix Social Problems

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Academia has embraced the concept of social innovation, which seeks to use entrepreneurial innovation to address the social issues of education, poverty, and public health. Noble though these intentions might be, emphasizing innovation alone won’t solve society’s ills. Students also need to be taught the basic civic skills necessary to bring about social change. Read more here.

 

THE LATEST NEWS


 

As Technology Entrepreneurs Multiply in Vietnam, So Do Regulations

The New York Times
Starting a tech business in the communist country of Vietnam has its own unique challenges, including navigating the considerable and rapidly shifting regulations that govern the economy. Sometimes the rules aren’t always clearly stated or understood, so even entrepreneurs striving to comply can run afoul of regulators. Yet despite these obstacles, the tech industry is booming in the Southeast Asian nation, and new generation of startups is looking for investors. Read more here.

 

Unblocking The Pipes

The Economist
Africa needs a lot of capital. In contrast to its reception in the rich world, private equity has been warmly welcomed in Africa. But private equity alone cannot meet all of Africa’s investment needs. Even if they could raise enough capital, funds generally want to sell the firms they acquire within five years, whereas Africa especially needs longer-term investors to pay for railways, power lines and the like. It also needs a multitude of loans for small businesses because banks across large parts of the continent have proved very poor at providing these. Read more here.

 

New Entrepreneurs Find Pain in Spain

The Wall Street Journal
Government initiatives to aid entrepreneurs are uneven and tend to be dispersed among different agencies, with much of the responsibility left to local governments or educational institutions. Scarce capital, dense bureaucracy, a culture deeply averse to risk and a cratered consumer market all suppress startups in Europe. Spanish government has passed legislation for tax breaks, steps to limit entrepreneurs’ liability in case of bankruptcy and programs to teach entrepreneurship in schools. While economists say the measures don’t go far enough, they are helping Spain to grow faster than other major eurozone economies. Read more here.

 

CALENDAR OF EVENTS


 


Global Innovation Summit

The Global Innovation Summit is the world’s largest gathering for building ecosystems of innovation and entrepreneurship.  Here’s the agenda.

February 17 to February 19.  Silicon Valley, CA

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 

  • Opening Ceremony: Welcome and Introduction to the Summit
    • Victor W. Hwang, Executive Director
    • Mark Newberg, Deputy Director
  • Opening Keynote Interview
    • Interviewer: Mary Kay Magistad (BBC Radio and Public Radio International)
    • Kamran Elahian (Chairman, Global Catalyst Partners)
  • Design Lab #1: The Rainforest Master Plan
  • Evening Event: Celebration of Art & Innovation

Wednesday,  February 18, 2015

  • Opening Case Study – the Shinola Story
    • Interviewer: Loren Feldman (Entrepreneurship Editor, Forbes)
    • Bridget Russo (Marketing Director for Shinola and Bedrock Manufacturing)
  • Design Lab #2: Ecosystem Mapping
  • Conversation #1: Design.
  • Innovation Inside: Building Innovative Teams
    • Moderator: Joe Sterling (Head of Consulting, T2 Venture Creation)
    • Pablo Salazar Rojo (Managing Director, Naranya Ventures)
    • Natalie Sweeney (Senior Business Innovation Strategy Consultant, Highmark)
    • Jeanine Becker (Lecturer in Law, Stanford Law School)
    • Patrick Davis (Senior Officer for Strategic Initiatives, Calvert Foundation)
    • Emily Lutyens (Co-CEO, Legworks)
  • Rubiks’ Cubed: Creative Problem Solving at Scale
    • Moderator: Ade Mabogunje (Senior Research Associate, Stanford University)
    • Megan Kachur (Creative Development Manager of Innovation, Walt Disney World)
    • Conrad Von Igel (Executive Director, Centro De Innovacion)
    • Maggie Hsu (Director of Marketing & External Relations, Las Vegas Downtown Project)
    • Maryann Feldman (Heninger Distinguished Professor, Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
  • Educated Insight: The Reinvention of Learning
    • Moderator: Diana Walker (Principal, Walker Impact Strategies)
    • Mark Hatch (CEO, TechShop)
    • Rick Beyer (President Emeritus, Wheeling Jesuit Univ.)
    • Wanny Hersey (Superintendent & Principal, Bullis Charter School)
    • Wayne Li (Oliver Professor of the Practice of Design & Engineering, School of Industrial Design, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Case Studies: Design of Startup Ecosystems
    • Moderator: Tom Guevara (US Department of Commerce)
    • Prafull Anubhai (Ahmedabad University)
  • Conversations #2: Capital
  • Atlas Hugged: When Big Money Builds Global Ecosystems
    • Moderator: Isabel Alvarez-Rodriguez (External Relations, Inter-American Development Bank)
    • Per Fredrik Ilsass Pharo (Director, Government of Norway’s Climate & Forest Initiative)
    • Jason Baron (Managing Director & Head Portfolio Manager for Social Investments, US Trust)
    • Gordon Myers (Chief Counsel, Technology & Private Equity, International Finance Corporation)
  • Catching Waves: Investing in Emerging Ecosystems
    • Moderator: Allen Taylor (VP, Global Network, Endeavor Global)
    • Paul Breloff (Managing Director, Accion Venture Lab)
    • Jessica Loman (Director of Operations and Impact, Toniic)
    • Walid Bakr (Director, The Abraaj Group)
  • Making it Matter: Impact Investing at the Cutting Edge
    • Moderator: Cathy Clark (Adjunct Professor and Director, CASE i3, Fuqua School of Business, Duke University)
    • Raul Pomares (Founder, Sonen Capital)
    • Miguel Granier (Managing Director, Invested Development)
    • Johanna Posada (Founder & Managing Director, Elevar Equity)
    • Abigail Noble (Associate Director & Head of Impact Investing Initiatives, World Economic Forum)
  • Case Study: Investing by Geography
    • Moderator: Ben Thornley (Founder & Managing Director, ICAP Partners)
    • Ahmed Alfi (Founder, Sawari Ventures)
    • Nasir Ali (CEO, Upstate Venture Connect)
  • Case Studies: Designing Ecosystems
  • Case Study: The Catchafire Story
    • Moderator: Cynthia Muller (Senior Director of Impact Investing, Arabella Advisors)
    • Scott Schwaitzberg (Head of Enterprise Business, Catchafire)
  • Financial Health: New Solutions for Underserved Markets
    • Arjan Schutte (Managing Partner, Core Innovation Capital)
    • Jennifer Tescher (President & CEO, Center for Financial Services Innovation)
  • Case Study: Crowdfunding: Circling Up
    • Moderator: Mark Newberg (5 Stone Green Capital)
    • Jason Yuan (CircleUp)
  • Design Lab #3
  • Ecosystem Design Gallery

Thursday, February 19, 2015

  • Something in the Air: Measuring, Understanding and Driving Innovation Culture
    • Julie Lenzer Kirk (Director of the Office Innovation and Entrepreneurship, U.S. Department of Commerce)
    • Henry Doss (Chief Strategy Officer for T2 Venture Creation)
    • Alistair Brett (International Technology Commercialization Advisor for T2 Venture Creation)
  • Conversation #3: Leadership
  • Phoenix Rising: Triumph Over Crisis
    • Moderator: Michael Lesnick (Senior Partner, Meridian Institute)
    • Dr. Sakena Yacoobi (CEO, Afghan Institute of Learning)
    • Jeff Finkle (President & CEO, International Economic Development Council)
    • Earl Robinson (Principal, RLMcCall Partners)
    • Chid Liberty (CEO, Liberty & Justice)
  • Insight Included: Diversity by Design
    • Kumardev Chatterjee (Founder & President, European Young Innovators Forum)
    • Ursula Oesterle (Vice President of Innovations, Swisscom)
    • Eric Ball (Treasurer & Senior Vice President of Finance, Oracle)
  • Case Studies: Leading the Technology Commercialization Process
    • Moderator: Soody Tronson (Founder and Principal, STLGip, Technology Law Firm)
    • Victor Hwang (Co-Founder & Executive Chairman, Liquidity Corporation)
    • Mir Imran, Chairman & CEO (InCube Ventures)
    • Andrew Farquharson, Managing Director (InCube Ventures)
  • Case Studies: Leading Public Policy to Grow Ecosystems
    • Moderator: Greg Horowitt (T2 Venture Creation)
    • Juan Camilo Quintero (Executive Manager, Ruta N)
    • Chinenye Mba-Uzoukwu (InfoGraphics Nigeria Ltd.)
  • Design Lab #4: Synthesis
  • Closing Keynote Conversation – Fostering the Entrepreneurial Spirit
    • Moderator: Loren Feldman (Entrepreneurship Editor, Forbes)
    • Nancy Pfund (Founder and Managing Partner, DBL Investors)
    • Fadi Ghandour (Founder and Vice Chairman, Aramex)
  • Awards and Closing Ceremony

 

Global Innovation Week

February 15 to February 21.  Silicon Valley, CA

Sunday, February 15

  • 11:00-5:00PM. Family Science Days. Host: American Association for the Advancement of Science. Location: San Jose Convention Center

Monday, February 16

  • Capital Ecosystems event. Host: Kauffman Fellows. nestGSV, Menlo Park
  • 5:00-6:00PM.  Rainforest Architects and Makers Reception (private). Host: T2 Venture Creation. Location: Marriott Hotel, San Jose
  • Brazilian Entrepreneur Leaders. Host: BayBrazil.

Tuesday, February 17 

Wednesday, February 18

Thursday, February 19

  • 11:00-1:00PM.  Innovation in R&D: Lunch & Learn (by invitation only). Host: BayBio. Location: South San Francisco
  • 2:00-4:00PM. Convening the Conveners (private). Host: Opportunity Collaboration and Global Innovation Summit. Location: Marriott Hotel, San Jose
  • 2:00-6:00PM. Rapid Urban Prototyping for Green Clean and Lean Cities. Host: Urban Innovation Exchange. Location: Prospect Silicon Valley, San Jose
  • 3:00-5:00PM. Startup Funding Disrupted: Understanding the New Venture Ecosystem.  Host: DLA Piper.  Location: Xerox PARC, Palo Alto
  • 5:00-6:30PM. PARC Forum (with Stanford design researcher Ade Mabogunje).  Host: Xerox PARC.  Host: Palo Alto
  • Tea With a Twist. Host: Global Privat. Location: Marriott Hotel, San Jose

Friday, February 20


Don’t try to tame wicked problems: Part 2

Many development partner tools and business processes deal with static, simple or linear problems. There is considerable demand for new methods and principles that can help development partners better navigate the complex, dynamic realities they face on a day-to-day basis.”
From best practice to best fit: Understanding and navigating wicked problems in international development. Ben Ramalingam, Miguel Laric and John Primrose, UK Department for International Development (DfID).
http://www.odi.org/sites/odi.org.uk/files/odi-assets/publications-opinion-files/9159.pdf

Don’t try to tame wicked problems: Part 1 introduced ‘wicked problems’ though six typical characteristics of these problems.

In the last few years international development organizations seem to be discovering complex systems and wicked problems. This series of blogs are not intended to be literature reviews, but two examples out of many are:

Complexity 101: behind the hype, what do we actually know?

Complexity 101: part 2: Getting to the So Whats.

One question being raised is whether the method of Logical Framework Analysis, also referred to as ‘logframes’ can be used, can be relied upon, when dealing with complex systems generally and with wicked problems in particular.

The Logical Framework Analysis was tested by USAID in the 1970s for evaluation of technical assistance projects, and used extensively by governments, consultants, and international aid and development organizations for project planning and evaluation ever since. Logical Framework design is not an evaluation in itself; it provides a plan of the project against which project progress can be assessed by evaluators. It was also intended to make evaluation less threatening. Furthermore, where there are clear and logical relationships between inputs and outputs this can lead to efficient task delegation.

As noted in our January blog, the behaviors of complex innovation ecosystems don’t fit well into logframes which deal with inputs and outputs and the tasks which produce the latter from the former. To illustrate what we are talking about a rather simplified logframe (it typically is a 4×4 matrix) might look something like this:

Goal Improve creation of spin-off companies from universities.
Purpose/Outcome An effective improved company creation system is operating.
Output New spin-off companies developed.
New incentives created.
Increased number of role models and mentors.
New methods in place.
Input Analyze problems with current methods to create spin-off companies.
Provide more early stage, start-up, funding.
Find more brokers available to help match R&D needs to sources.
Provide more incentives to researchers.
Identify role models and mentors.
Create an entrepreneurship culture.
Inventory physical and people assets.

This table suggests we can produce a certain set of outputs from a certain set of inputs to achieve the required outcome. These concepts can help us think through a project in an orderly, logical fashion assuming there is a definite cause and effect relationship between any level and the level immediately above it; in wicked problems this is not the case. Cause and effect logic is also the basis for strategy maps and best-practice balanced scorecards. Finally, an emphasis on cause and effect suggests a rational expectations hypothesis, which does not take into consideration extra-rational motives which influence behavior.

At T2 Venture Creation we just published a short book about measuring variables in innovation ecosystems, The Rainforest Scorecard: A Practical Framework for Growing Innovation Potential. The work is a measurement methodology based on complexity characteristics and does not assume linear cause and effect relationships, but does recognize that ‘emergence’ is a critical feature of complex adaptive systems. Measurement however is only the first step; decisions and actions must follow. In the decision making process this traditionally implies deduction – reasoning which links a set of premises with a logical, and necessarily true, conclusion. Probably the best known example of such reasoning is:

  1. All me are mortal (premise)
  2. Socrates is a man (premise)
  3. Therefore, Socrates is mortal (conclusion)

So, what can we do if we must make decisions regarding wicked problems but cannot use deduction? And, furthermore, we will have to make decisions in spaces where indicators of success may be fallible –as discussed in the April 2013 blog in this series Fallibility and the Making of Good Decisions: Solving the right problem Part 2. We shall turn our attention to this question next time.

Next time: Practical Reasoning: Decision making in Rainforest innovation ecosystems.


Rainforest Rev: Measuring Culture, Performance, and Innovation

The Rainforest Revolution
News on growing ecosystems for innovation and entrepreneurship

 

Want to volunteer at the Global Innovation Summit? We’re looking for a few good innovators.

The Summit is a major undertaking, with interactive labs, dynamic conversations, surprising artistry, world-class entertainment, and more. But it takes a lot of hands to bring it to life. If you are interested in volunteering—whether marketing, writing, facilitating, logistics, registration, or something else—let us know. Please contact carolyn@t2vc.com and include your background and your interests.

The Summit is only 2 weeks away! Come learn how to foster innovation at scale — to build entrepreneurial ecosystems anywhere. The event features the latest techniques, newest case studies, global peer networking, and more. Register today at www.innosummit.com.

SUMMIT: FEBRUARY 17-19  |  WEEK: FEBRUARY 15-21

 

THE BIG PICTURE


 

Measuring Culture, Performance, and Innovation

Alistair Brett, co-author of The Rainforest Scorecard, a new tool to be featured at the Global Innovation Summit
Culture drives performance and innovation. But can we describe, quantify, measure, and manage all the variables in an ecosystem which determine culture? We answer this question in the just published The Rainforest Scorecard: A Practical Framework for Growing Innovation Potential. The Scorecard provides a systematic, comprehensive, detailed strategy for assessing and quantifying all elements of an organizational culture with respect to its capacity for innovation.   The framework serves as tactical scaffolding upon which innovation culture can be built at scale, in any organization, public or private. Read more here.

 

Ayn Rand Never Built A Company

By Victor Hwang, CEO & Co-Founder of T2 Venture Creation, from Forbes
Ayn Rand argued that rational selfishness is a virtue. She felt that morality that is not rational diminishes life and happiness. Rand has experienced a popular boomlet in recent years, but Rand’s ideas don’t fit the reality. They ignore the real economic value creation that happens everyday, whether in the Valley or anywhere else. The hopes and dreams and passions of innovators are not frivolous—they are at the core of the economic system. How they confront and conquer the challenge of bringing new ideas to life is what matters. Read more here.

 

The Purpose of Silicon Valley

MIT Technology Review
Capital and engineering talent have been flocking to seemingly trivial mobile apps. Michael Steep isn’t alone in asking whether Silicon Valley is devoting far too many resources to easy opportunities in mobile apps and social media at the expense of attacking bigger problems in energy, medicine, and transportation. Reid Hoffman sees that as appropriate, because software affects every level of products and organizations. That means it offers opportunities to have huge impacts. Read more here.

 

The Dawn of System Leadership

Stanford Social Innovation Review
The stereotype of the solo inventor, or the lone maverick leader, is giving way to an appreciation for the ways that breakthrough technologies actually develop today: a collective process that harnesses group skills and creativity. This new paradigm requires leadership that is diffuse and team-oriented, that catalyzes solutions through a collective model of system leadership. Read more here.

 

The Daily Innovator: The Four Innovation Practices That Matter

The Huffington Post
Everyone wants innovation, but few really know how to go about encouraging it. That hasn’t stopped an avalanche of books offering advice for fostering innovation. With so much written about it, there is little consensus for a definitive approach. Dozens of interviews with executives, entrepreneurs, and investors have however revealed a few sure-fire practices that most people agree can help organizations be more innovative. Read more here.

 

THE LATEST NEWS


 

The Nordic Model

Foreign Affairs
Niklas Zennstrom founded the peer-to-peer file-sharing company Kazaa in 2000 and the Internet telephone company Skype in 2003. He believes two most important qualities for a successful entrepreneur to have are courage and curiosity. Read more here.

 

Cuban Entrepreneurs Take Startup 101

CNN Money
StartUp Cuba, a newly formed Miami-based initiative, wants to provide business education, ethical training and fellowship opportunities in the U.S. for Cuban entrepreneurs. Read more here.

 

Five US Tech Hubs You Probably Didn’t Know About

CNBC
Everyone knows the usual suspects when it comes to startup-friendly U.S. regions. Silicon Valley and Boston have been joined by San Francisco, New York, and Austin among the more well-known tech hubs. But there are a number of lesser-known burbs that are proving they can compete with the more celebrated tech cities. Read more here.

 

CALENDAR OF EVENTS


 

Global Innovation Summit

The Global Innovation Summit is the world’s largest gathering for building ecosystems of innovation and entrepreneurship.  Here’s the agenda.

February 17 to February 19.  Silicon Valley, CA

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 

  • Opening Ceremony: Welcome and Introduction to the Summit
    • Victor W. Hwang, Executive Director
    • Mark Newberg, Deputy Director
  • Opening Keynote Interview
    • Interviewer: Mary Kay Magistad (BBC Radio and Public Radio International)
    • Kamran Elahian (Chairman, Global Catalyst Partners)
  • Design Lab #1: The Rainforest Master Plan
  • Evening Event: Celebration of Art & Innovation

Wednesday,  February 18, 2015

  • Opening Case Study – the Shinola Story
    • Interviewer: Loren Feldman (Entrepreneurship Editor, Forbes)
    • Bridget Russo (Marketing Director for Shinola and Bedrock Manufacturing)
  • Design Lab #2: Ecosystem Mapping
  • Conversation #1: Design.
  • Innovation Inside: Building Innovative Teams
    • Moderator: Joe Sterling (Head of Consulting, T2 Venture Creation)
    • Pablo Salazar Rojo (Managing Director, Naranya Ventures)
    • Natalie Sweeney (Senior Business Innovation Strategy Consultant, Highmark)
    • Jeanine Becker (Lecturer in Law, Stanford Law School)
    • Patrick Davis (Senior Officer for Strategic Initiatives, Calvert Foundation)
    • Emily Lutyens (Co-CEO, Legworks)
  • Rubiks’ Cubed: Creative Problem Solving at Scale
    • Moderator: Ade Mabogunje (Senior Research Associate, Stanford University)
    • Megan Kachur (Creative Development Manager of Innovation, Walt Disney World)
    • Conrad Von Igel (Executive Director, Centro De Innovacion)
    • Maggie Hsu (Director of Marketing & External Relations, Las Vegas Downtown Project)
    • Maryann Feldman (Heninger Distinguished Professor, Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
  • Educated Insight: The Reinvention of Learning
    • Moderator: Diana Walker (Principal, Walker Impact Strategies)
    • Mark Hatch (CEO, TechShop)
    • Rick Beyer (President Emeritus, Wheeling Jesuit Univ.)
    • Wanny Hersey (Superintendent & Principal, Bullis Charter School)
    • Wayne Li (Oliver Professor of the Practice of Design & Engineering, School of Industrial Design, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Case Studies: Design of Startup Ecosystems
    • Moderator: Tom Guevara (US Department of Commerce)
    • Prafull Anubhai (Ahmedabad University)
  • Conversations #2: Capital
  • Atlas Hugged: When Big Money Builds Global Ecosystems
    • Moderator: Isabel Alvarez-Rodriguez (External Relations, Inter-American Development Bank)
    • Per Fredrik Ilsass Pharo (Director, Government of Norway’s Climate & Forest Initiative)
    • Jason Baron (Managing Director & Head Portfolio Manager for Social Investments, US Trust)
    • Gordon Myers (Chief Counsel, Technology & Private Equity, International Finance Corporation)
  • Catching Waves: Investing in Emerging Ecosystems
    • Moderator: Allen Taylor (VP, Global Network, Endeavor Global)
    • Paul Breloff (Managing Director, Accion Venture Lab)
    • Jessica Loman (Director of Operations and Impact, Toniic)
    • Walid Bakr (Director, The Abraaj Group)
  • Making it Matter: Impact Investing at the Cutting Edge
    • Moderator: Cathy Clark (Adjunct Professor and Director, CASE i3, Fuqua School of Business, Duke University)
    • Raul Pomares (Founder, Sonen Capital)
    • Miguel Granier (Managing Director, Invested Development)
    • Johanna Posada (Founder & Managing Director, Elevar Equity)
    • Abigail Noble (Associate Director & Head of Impact Investing Initiatives, World Economic Forum)
  • Case Study: Investing by Geography
    • Moderator: Ben Thornley (Founder & Managing Director, ICAP Partners)
    • Ahmed Alfi (Founder, Sawari Ventures)
    • Nasir Ali (CEO, Upstate Venture Connect)
  • Case Studies: Designing Ecosystems
  • Case Study: The Catchafire Story
    • Moderator: Cynthia Muller (Senior Director of Impact Investing, Arabella Advisors)
    • Scott Schwaitzberg (Head of Enterprise Business, Catchafire)
  • Financial Health: New Solutions for Underserved Markets
    • Arjan Schutte (Managing Partner, Core Innovation Capital)
    • Jennifer Tescher (President & CEO, Center for Financial Services Innovation)
  • Case Study: Crowdfunding: Circling Up
    • Moderator: Mark Newberg (5 Stone Green Capital)
    • Jason Yuan (CircleUp)
  • Design Lab #3
  • Ecosystem Design Gallery

Thursday, February 19, 2015

  • Something in the Air: Measuring, Understanding and Driving Innovation Culture
    • Julie Lenzer Kirk (Director of the Office Innovation and Entrepreneurship, U.S. Department of Commerce)
    • Henry Doss (Chief Strategy Officer for T2 Venture Creation)
    • Alistair Brett (International Technology Commercialization Advisor for T2 Venture Creation)
  • Conversation #3: Leadership
  • Phoenix Rising: Triumph Over Crisis
    • Moderator: Michael Lesnick (Senior Partner, Meridian Institute)
    • Dr. Sakena Yacoobi (CEO, Afghan Institute of Learning)
    • Jeff Finkle (President & CEO, International Economic Development Council)
    • Earl Robinson (Principal, RLMcCall Partners)
    • Chid Liberty (CEO, Liberty & Justice)
  • Insight Included: Diversity by Design
    • Kumardev Chatterjee (Founder & President, European Young Innovators Forum)
    • Ursula Oesterle (Vice President of Innovations, Swisscom)
    • Eric Ball (Treasurer & Senior Vice President of Finance, Oracle)
  • Case Studies: Leading the Technology Commercialization Process
    • Moderator: Soody Tronson (Founder and Principal, STLGip, Technology Law Firm)
    • Victor Hwang (Co-Founder & Executive Chairman, Liquidity Corporation)
    • Mir Imran, Chairman & CEO (InCube Ventures)
    • Andrew Farquharson, Managing Director (InCube Ventures)
  • Case Studies: Leading Public Policy to Grow Ecosystems
    • Moderator: Greg Horowitt (T2 Venture Creation)
    • Juan Camilo Quintero (Executive Manager, Ruta N)
    • Chinenye Mba-Uzoukwu (InfoGraphics Nigeria Ltd.)
  • Design Lab #4: Synthesis
  • Closing Keynote Conversation – Fostering the Entrepreneurial Spirit
    • Moderator: Loren Feldman (Entrepreneurship Editor, Forbes)
    • Nancy Pfund (Founder and Managing Partner, DBL Investors)
    • Fadi Ghandour (Founder and Vice Chairman, Aramex)
  • Awards and Closing Ceremony

Global Innovation Week

February 15 to February 21.  Silicon Valley, CA

Sunday, February 15

  • 11:00-5:00PM. Family Science Days. Host: American Association for the Advancement of Science. Location: San Jose Convention Center

Monday, February 16

  • Capital Ecosystems event. Host: Kauffman Fellows. nestGSV, Menlo Park
  • 5:00-6:00PM.  Rainforest Architects and Makers Reception (private). Host: T2 Venture Creation. Location: Marriott Hotel, San Jose
  • Brazilian Entrepreneur Leaders. Host: BayBrazil.

Tuesday, February 17 

Wednesday, February 18

Thursday, February 19

  • 11:00-1:00PM.  Innovation in R&D: Lunch & Learn (by invitation only). Host: BayBio. Location: South San Francisco
  • 2:00-4:00PM. Convening the Conveners (private). Host: Opportunity Collaboration and Global Innovation Summit. Location: Marriott Hotel, San Jose
  • 2:00-6:00PM. Rapid Urban Prototyping for Green Clean and Lean Cities. Host: Urban Innovation Exchange. Location: Prospect Silicon Valley, San Jose
  • 3:00-5:00PM. Startup Funding Disrupted: Understanding the New Venture Ecosystem.  Host: DLA Piper.  Location: Xerox PARC, Palo Alto
  • 5:00-6:30PM. PARC Forum (with Stanford design researcher Ade Mabogunje).  Host: Xerox PARC.  Host: Palo Alto
  • Tea With a Twist. Host: Global Privat. Location: Marriott Hotel, San Jose

Friday, February 20


Ayn Rand Never Built A Company

By Victor Hwang, CEO & Co-Founder of T2 Venture Creation, from Forbes

There’s a serious disconnect today in America between political discourse and economic reality. I find it disturbing. If you follow the headlines, the nation is embroiled in a civilizational battle between liberals who seek to impose political correctness and build an authoritarian state, on one hand, versus conservatives who seek to perpetuate inequality and minority repression, on the other. It has become a battle of caricatures.

More importantly, it does not reflect what is actually happening on the ground. You know, reality. It’s that place where real people are building real things. Based on my experience in Silicon Valley, I’d like to propose a different way to think about the intersection of economics and politics in America.

I’m fortunate to get an uncommon perspective in my professional life, because I work at both the micro and the macro levels. On the micro level, I’m an entrepreneur who starts and invests in new companies, including one that makes the world’s most powerful filter to remove harmful germs from drinking water. On the macro level, I work with cities, companies, and countries to design economies that accelerate the pace of innovation and value creation. Because I straddle two worlds, I tend to see hidden nuance, where others might see simplicity.

American politics has surely become an oversimplified battlefield. Each side portrays the other in comical terms. Here is how conservatives, like Ross Douthat in a recent NYT column, often see the battle lines:

 Left (Bad)  < >  Right (Good)
 Top-down  < > Bottom-up
 Elite-imposed  < > Self-reliance
 Collective morality  < > Individuals define morality
 Forced generosity  < > Voluntary altruism

In contrast, here is how liberals, like Elizabeth Warren, might see the battle lines:

Left (Good)  < > Right (Bad)
Bottom-up < > Top-down
Individual activism < > Elite complacency
Fairness as moral goal < > Elites define morality
Voluntary generosity < > Legalized selfishness

For another example, let’s take the ideas of writer Ayn Rand. Rand argued that rational selfishness is a virtue. She felt that morality that is not rational diminishes life and happiness. Rand has experienced a popular boomlet in recent years. Many politicians and business leaders have embraced her ideas. Liberals, for their part, have readily accepted her as a foil. Again, a simple binary choice.

But Rand’s ideas don’t fit the reality I work in. They bifurcate the world too cleanly. Here’s a different, more nuanced way to describe the world.

Political quadrants

Like all graphs, this is an oversimplification of reality, but it highlights some critical distinctions. (For political geeks, I’ve taken the “liberty” of adding the political philosophers that might be associated with these quadrants, namely Locke, Hobbes, Rousseau, and Rand.)

On the horizontal axis, we see the division between morality and rationality. Morality is about pursuing “the way the world should be.” Rationality is about dealing with “the way the world is.” You can hear echoes of America’s liberal-conservative divide here.  On the vertical axis, we see the division between top-down and bottom-up views of the world. Bottom-up is about individuals and their interactions with one another. Top-down is about managing institutions, whether companies, cities, or entire countries.

So what’s the point, you might be asking? If our goal is to maximize economic wealth, it’s increasingly clear that two of these quadrants matter more than the other two. Scientific research shows that innovative economies thrive in the bottom-left and the top-right. Entrepreneurship happens in the bottom-left, where individuals organize dynamically into teams to solve problems. Highly entrepreneurial environments are what we call “Rainforest” ecosystems. But ideas become scalable products on the top-right: in environments with high predictability and low operational costs. We call those systems “Plantations.” I’ve written about this in prior columns (for example, see links here, here, and here).

Quadrants Rainforest-Plantation

New ideas, startups, and solutions are birthed on the bottom-left. Ideas that replicate and become sustainable must scale to the top-right. The crossover is hard. It’s not a leap; it’s a chasm. And it’s not just a political chasm between left and right. It’s the business chasm between innovation and production. Silicon Valley doesn’t call the process of launching new products “crossing the chasm” for nothing.

The political philosopher Edmund Burke saw the same thing. Society is a difficult balance between moral motivation and practical constraints.

“A man full of warm, speculative benevolence may wish his society otherwise constituted than he finds it, but a good patriot and a true politician always considers how he shall make the most of the existing materials of his country. A disposition to preserve and an ability to improve, taken together, would be my standard of a statesman.”

Sounds like the description of a successful entrepreneur to me. So where does that leave Ayn Rand, in the bottom right corner? The truth is that Ayn Rand never built a company. Therefore, she never appreciated the essential moral quality of entrepreneurship. Without hopeful people who desire to improve the world, however foolish they may be, entrepreneurship will wither.   Don’t just take my word for it. Ask Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.

Rand’s ideas are a useful thinking tool, but she was a product of her time. A refugee from Communism, she despised the imposition of morality by the state. My mother escaped from Communism too, so I am sympathetic to Rand’s point of view.

But the real world is not a simple binary. America’s political discourse is problematic, because it ignores the real economic value creation that happens everyday, whether in the Valley or anywhere else. The hopes and dreams and passions of innovators are not frivolous—they are core to the economic system. How they confront and conquer the challenge of bringing new ideas to life is what matters. Helping to build ecosystems that accelerate the entrepreneurial journey was a core reason for me to start the Global Innovation Summit, which happens again in two weeks and which attracts over 50 countries seeking the same thing.

So the economy’s life cycle is more nuanced than Ayn Rand realized. Innovators are deeply moral animals, since by definition they envision the future as it should be. In fact, the world would die without such dreamers. People with a vision of how the world can be better are actually the ones who do make the world better.

Victor W. Hwang is an entrepreneur and investor in Silicon Valley. He wrote an award-winning book on innovation economics. He runs the Global Innovation Summit, a conference on building entrepreneurial ecosystems that happens on February 17-19, 2015.


Measuring culture, performance, and innovation

Culture drives performance and innovation.   But can we describe, quantify, measure, and manage all the variables in an ecosystem which determine culture?

My colleague Henry H. Doss and I answer this question in the just published The Rainforest Scorecard: A Practical Framework for Growing Innovation Potential. The book is short (35 pages) to enable quick application of its content. The Scorecard provides a systematic, comprehensive, detailed strategy for assessing and quantifying all elements of an organizational culture with respect to its capacity for innovation.   The framework serves as tactical scaffolding upon which innovation culture can be built at scale, in any organization, public or private.

The Scorecard contains sets of questions proving a comprehensive evaluation of an organization’s innovation potential. The scoring methodology is based on the notion that objective scoring is a necessary, initial step to begin the process of cultural change. The scale, scope and level of detail which may be reached in completing this process will vary from organization to organization, and is a function of available time and resources. However, irrespective of scale, all assessment efforts will follow certain guidelines, in order to optimize their return on the effort required to complete the scorecard.

The Scorecard brings together the rainforest metaphor (see December 2014 blog) as described by T2VC’s founders Greg Horowitt and Victor Hwang in The Rainforest: The Secret to Building the Next Silicon Valley together with much of what has been discussed in this series of blogs.

The concept of system state variables was introduced in our December 2013 blog. The Scorecard quantifies critical state variables of innovation as: Leadership; Frameworks, Infrastructure and Policies; Organizational Resources; Activities and Engagement; Role Models; and Culture. The book guides the user through a detailed question and answer process, which in turn creates both an innovation profile and a clear, direct process for building innovation into an organization.

But, can we really claim to be able to measure such variables in a complex adaptive ecosystem? After all, in previous blogs in this series we have constantly banged on about lack of predictability and uncertain relationships between cause and effect in these far-from-equilibrium systems.

We can, because complex adaptive systems have ‘basins of stability’ – as introduced in our August 2014 blog  – which are steady state systems maintained by the feeding in of external energy. For corporations and innovation ecosystems this equilibrium would be a kind of self-satisfied stasis. However, if this maintaining heat vanishes the system may flip into another steady state, one ‘basin of stability,’ to another which will require new maintaining energy. In the language of complex adaptive systems these steady states – regions of quasi-stability or system-level order are known as ‘attractors.’ Empirical research has shown that in large complex systems such as communities and corporations, these attractors maintain conditions required for emergent self-organization, adaptive capability – and measurement.

The Scorecard process and scoring model seek to describe an ideal organizational ‘system state’—the aggregate set of conditions or features of systems that are generally present in innovative organizations. This idealized model is in turn used as a gauge against which organizations can measure and evaluate their own state of innovation.

The Rainforest Scorecard is part of an overall implementation process being developed by T2VC inspired by the impact of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, which the U.S. created in 1988 to foster and recognize organizational excellence. In ways similar to the Baldrige Award, this process guides organizations through structured, outcome-oriented conversations about innovation states, focusing on several key areas of assessment; these organizational conversations in turn support the creation of innovation ecosystems that make communities, organizations and businesses more resilient and sustainable.

The Rainforest Scorecard: A Practical Framework for Growing Innovation Potential is released under a Creative Commons license, so that the world can “remix, tweak, and build upon” this work non-commercially. We just ask that you credit the original book and license your work under the same terms.


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