Rainforest Rev: Education Innovation and Overcoming Fear of Change

News on growing ecosystems for innovation and entrepreneurship

THE BIG PICTURE


The Future Of Higher Education Depends On Innovation

Henry Doss, Chief Strategy Officer of T2 Venture Creation, from Forbes
Education investor Rick Beyer describes some dramatic trends affecting U.S. colleges and universities, and shares innovative approaches to address the affordability and value of higher education, including the “unbundling” of the college degree. Read more here.

Want People to Support Your Ideas? Conquer Their Fears

Inc.
Innovation takes more than creative ideas – it takes the right approach to make those ideas desirable to others by overcoming their psychological resistance to change. Read more here.

Where Does Your Innovation Strategy Begin?

The Huffington Post
Innovation won’t happen without a concrete strategy to encourage and operationalize creative solutions in your company or organization. Read more here.

Why the Term “Innovation” Needs a Universal Standard

Fast Company
Innovation has become an ambiguous concept at times, which only makes it more difficult to foster. In response, dozens of experts worked four years to develop a universal standard that defines and quantifies innovation. Read more here.

Secrets of the Creative Brain

The Atlantic
A neuroscientist examines the sources of creativity and its link to mental illness. Read more here.

THE LATEST NEWS


Europe’s Hottest Startups 2014: Barcelona

Wired UK
The Catalan Capital is getting a reputation as a vibrant international tech hub. Read more here.

Can Staten Island Become…Silicon Island?

Crain’s New York Business
Mayor Bill de Blasio has a plan to grow a tech hub in the unlikeliest of boroughs. Read more here.

What’s Next for Moscow’s Startups and Entrepreneurs?

The Telegraph
The government’s incursions in Crimea and Ukraine have raised questions about the Russian capital’s burgeoning tech scene. Read more here.

CALENDAR OF EVENTS


Global Innovation Summit + Week 2015

Learn.  Love.  Build… Together.

February 16-20, 2015  |  Silicon Valley, California

50% early bird discount — last day is August 31! Plus highly discounted rates for students, startups, nonprofits, universities, and governments.



Liquidity Nanotech Corporation

Liquidity Nanotech Corporation, one of Silicon Valley’s top next generation technology startups, has a limited investment window for friends of T2 Venture Creation. The company is targeting a multi-billion dollar market in clean water. It’s a rare opportunity to make profits while saving lives. Visit Liquidity’s crowdfunding website for more information.

Innovation Reality – A Smuggler’s Tale (Part 1)

Guest post from an anonymous Rainforest builder

Innovation ecosystems involve many hopeful and inspired people along the journey of bringing an idea to life. There are serial entrepreneurs, incubators, startups, seed investments, venture capital, accelerators, labs, governments, and support services galore to help companies with the latest whiz-bang idea. Like bait on a hook, magazines like Entrepreneur and Fast Company bombard aspiring business people with the happy and ambitious phrases defining what you should do or be to create the next best disruptive invention:

Your brilliant ideas impact the world!

Surround yourself with a community of greatness, inspiration and like-minded rebels!

Ignore the naysayers! Ignore the haters!

Take bold action! Be a risk taker Push your boundaries!

Well here is a little secret. All of these inspirational slogans are annoying as hell to those on the front lines of innovation in big-company cultures. (What do you mean, ‘front lines’?)

Making innovation happen isn’t a happy experience. It is a grinding, protracted battle. What most companies would call a victory, like a big sale inked, or an introduction of a new product on the shelves, well, that is not when innovators celebrate. Our small victories, when they come, are celebrated on the down low, inside the hidden innovation network.

We celebrate when minds are converted, which happens at a snail’s pace. It only happens one mind at a time. That is when we kick back, smoke a proverbial cigar with our small squad of disruptors, and wait for the next battle to begin.

You will never fully experience the bright side of innovation without understanding that it comes with a powerfully dark side, and at great cost to those who fought the fight. Often it falls to those who have lived on the entrepreneurial side but are now, as my colleague says “in the belly of the beast”.

Innovation is a Dirty Word
Innovation: That undefined, grossly overused, sometimes magical (meaning “brilliant”) word. That “generates excitement” word. That “We must have it because everyone else does” word. That word that is used by people who really don’t know what it means, or what it takes, but are convinced that that they need it.

Merriam-Webster defines innovation as a new idea, device, or method, but it has taken on multiple meanings in the business ecosystem. The word could mean invention, or investing in startups. It could mean new product development, or testing assumptions about what buyers want, or a substitute for “creative.” Too often, in corporate life, it is also a curse.

Lots of people want to innovate, whether they are entrepreneurs or trailblazers within an organization. Some of us actually break out of corporate life and do just that. We start our own businesses, we thrive, we fail, we exit, we get great PR, we hobble, and sometimes some of us end up back in the corporate machine. But in our minds, we still are visionary thinkers driven to change the world. Not in some distant future. But now. We are just as impatient as when we were entrepreneurs.

What we encounter is a lot of people who want to “WOW” their colleagues and gush about innovation and their role in it, but the fact is, no one really wants to get in there to see how it’s done. They only want to see the successes, without taking the risks or looking at all of the failures. Ninety percent of the time innovation leads to failure or learnings of what worked and what didn’t. These outcomes make corporate executives very uncomfortable.

There is never only light in innovation. If we want true collaboration to fuel innovation ecosystems, one must explore where and how disruption occurs.

The corporate machine likes conformity, trade secrets, efficiency, and matching results to forecasts. On the other hand, the innovation machine is fueled by non-conformity, breaking the rules, transparency and collaboration, and recognizing that unexpected results are sometimes the most valuable outcomes. No surprises here folks. Two conflicting cultures are at odds from the get-go.

Innovation ecosystems are more than startups, funding, accelerators, and whatnot. Corporate entities are often the purchasers of innovative products or services, and are also the eventual exit strategy for the entrepreneurs in the ecosystem. And corporations are where the dark side of innovation exists.

Warriors on the Dark Side of Innovation: Meet the Smugglers
The dark side of innovation is where difficult and dangerous work resides. And it requires a special type of individual who can persuade people to open their minds. I call these people Smugglers.

Smugglers are fearless. They choose not to relax with groups or communities that seek safety of business-as-usual. Smugglers want to kill business as usual. We are dividers. Breakers. We unhinge old beliefs.

Smuggling is neither done through PowerPoint, nor email. Unlike computer networks, which are physically open to a larger wired world, our nervous system is built from private computers, physically isolated from one another. Smugglers ignite one mind at a time. We minimize fear one mind at a time. Every chance we get. A Smuggler’s mission is to ignite movements without being politically ‘outed’ and neutralized…or killed.

Smugglers cause disruption. We open the eyes and stimulate the minds of people who didn’t know they were blind and stagnant.

Smugglers:

· Create an underground resistance to the “same old same old” because we believe we need to change to be competitive

· Minimize the fear of the new

· Seed thoughts of hope, in different places, so that when others get together they share in the same vision

· Make new ideas popular, with a smile and encouragement that it’s cool to back the idea

· Suffer, and oh how we suffer, the obstinacy of those who aren’t capable of connecting the dots

· Tell the right part of the story to the right person at the right time

· Give unconditionally in an un-giving culture

· Collaborate with those who will collaborate, and team together to advance solutions

· Are willing to be vulnerable and admit when we don’t know the answers

· Are lonely in our view of the world

· Are convinced that what we bring to the table will make a significant impact on the business and for the good of the world.

Smuggling Operations
Smuggling is a team sport. Invisible networks, like invisible rivers, allow the movement of fresh knowledge and political influence to help other Smugglers.

Smugglers are always seeking these invisible rivers, also called the “invisible sanity network”: the team of like-minded people who believe there is a better way.

The first thing a Smuggler needs to transport is the awareness of pain. Enabling the collective hive to notice and experience the pain is very challenging and requires a multi-front strategy. Sometimes it is necessary to illuminate (or even stimulate) some pain – with the help of these hidden networks – in order to make people aware that it exists and causes risk to the company.

Smugglers understand value very quickly. When you meet a fellow Smuggler on the inside of a corporation, you will see quickly that they too have been analyzing better ways of doing things and are usually grateful that they aren’t alone in thinking in such radical ways.

Smugglers exist at all levels of an organization. However, they usually are isolated, and don’t realize there are other Smugglers just like them in the company. It is a Smuggler’s responsibility to seek out these networks, and help other Smugglers when they can. Smugglers are the catalysts of change. We make shit happen.

To an outside vendor who is trying to work with a large corporation, Smugglers are allies who see not only how a product or service can help in the big picture of the company, but also a path to adoption through internal political forces. Smugglers help navigate currents that vendors cannot see, flowing beneath superficially calm waters.

Entrepreneurs, you are the big picture creators of hope and vision in the innovation ecosystem! Smugglers know that you work around the clock to give us exactly what we need and are dying for. Trust your Smugglers, as we are fighting on the front lines to bring your vision into the organization. Betray a Smuggler at your own risk. This is mind-to-mind combat. This is the dark side of innovation, where many battles are fought that you know nothing about. (We work hard to protect you from that knowledge. Fear is the enemy of innovation.)

To be continued…


Rainforest Rev: Innovation Stories and A People’s Guide To Excellence

News on growing ecosystems for innovation and entrepreneurship

THE BIG PICTURE

Innovation Emerges From Stories We Tell
Henry Doss, Chief Strategy Officer of T2 Venture Creation, from Forbes
To foster innovation as a process or an outcome, leaders must understand it as a form of storytelling — an act of creation that turns imagination into reality. Read more here.

Robert Sutton’s Guide to Excellence
Strategy + Business
Management theorist Robert Sutton believes human behavior is the key to business success. The one thing most leading companies share? They don’t tolerate jerks. Read more here.

Investing in Women’s Employment
International Finance Corporation
Enhancing the role of women in a nation’s workforce is the key to economic development. Read more here.

Rapid Innovation Diffusion in Social Networks
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)
Social networks provide a rapid means for people to cluster and respond to social acceptance and feedback, aiding in the spread and adoption of innovations. Read more here.

Getting Past the Barriers to Collaboration
Ideas Lab
Efforts to eliminate the obstacles that slow a collaborative approach to innovation are frequently contested, and a range of excuses are employed to stymie improvements in organizational collaboration. Read more here.

THE LATEST NEWS
How To Create A Startup Hub
Forbes
People are wondering how to start a tech scene from scratch in their area. They might ask the folks in Orlando, Florida who have actually made it happen in a city whose second largest industry is now tech. Read more here.
Phoenix Tech is Scorching: Now Where Are the VCs?
USA Today
Startup investments in Arizona’s thriving “Silicon Desert” have jumped this year, but the region is still looking for a breakout company that will lure the big money from Silicon Valley. Read more here.

Hickenlooper meets with Fort Collins tech startups
The Coloradoan
The Governor of Colorado went to Fort Collins to promote the city’s startup ecosystem, which includes a strong collaboration with city government and the local Colorado State University campus. Read more here.

CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Global Innovation Summit + Week 2015
Learn.  Love.  Build… Together.

February 16-20,2015

Silicon Valley, California
50% early bird discount — last day is August 31! Plus highly discounted rates for students, startups, nonprofits, universities, and governments.

SPECIAL INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY
Liquidity Nanotech Corporation
Liquidity Nanotech Corporation, one of Silicon Valley’s top next generation technology startups, has a limited investment window for friends of T2 Venture Creation. The company is targeting a multi-billion dollar market in clean water. It’s a rare opportunity to make profits while saving lives. Visit Liquidity’s crowdfunding website for more information.

Rainforest Rev: Ecosystem Framework and Cluster Creation

News on growing ecosystems for innovation and entrepreneurship

THE BIG PICTURE

How Can America Compete? U.S. Suggests New Economic Framework
Victor Hwang, CEO & Co-Founder of T2 Venture Creation, from Forbes
T2 Venture Creation’s Victor Hwang interviews Professor Maryann Feldman of the U.S. Economic Development Administration on her agency’s recent policy shift away from previously identified drivers of economic development in favor of innovation ecosystems that draw on indigenous talent and resources. Read more here.

Creating Growth Clusters: What Role for Local Government?
McKinsey & Company
Policy decision-makers shouldn’t try to create tech hubs from scratch, or pick winners in particular sectors, but they can increase their area’s chances of success by helping to ease bottlenecks that might otherwise inhibit a start-up ecosystem, particularly when taking a cluster to scale. Read more here.
The Rise of Innovation Districts: A New Geography of Innovation in America
Brookings Institute
The innovation model in which entrepreneurs work in isolated garages before launching their tech companies in self-sufficient suburban campuses is giving way to a new geography of innovation in which startups, established industry leaders, and skilled workers cluster together in compact, amenity-rich urban areas close to anchor business and academic institutions. Read more here.
Misunderstanding What Others Think, Believe, Feel, and Want
The University of Chicago Booth School of Business
We engage in a kind of “mind reading” every time we believe we understand what other people are thinking, feeling, or wanting. The problem is that we’re not nearly as good at it as we think we are. Read more here.

Case: Start-ups Pave Roads Beyond Silicon Valley
USA Today
No single area is going to dethrone Silicon Valley as America’s leading innovation region any time soon, but that won’t stop smaller ecosystems from blossoming across the nation, giving entrepreneurs a host of options for locating their startups. Read more here.
THE LATEST NEWS
Payment-technology Firms Clustering in Portland
Portland Press Herald
“Fin tech” companies in Portland, Maine are helping the city, “…play a starring role in the evolution of how people and businesses interact with money.” Read more here.

How Do India’s Major Startup Hubs Measure Up to Those in the US?
Tech in Asia
An infographic comparing Indian tech clusters to Silicon Valley reveals striking contrasts and unforeseen similarities between major innovation centers on the subcontinent and their biggest rival in the West. Read more here.

CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Global Innovation Summit + Week 2015
Learn.  Love.  Build… Together.
February 16-20,2015

Silicon Valley, California
50% early bird discount — last day is August 31! Plus highly discounted rates for students, startups, nonprofits, universities, and governments.

 
SPECIAL INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY
Liquidity Nanotech Corporation
Liquidity Nanotech Corporation, one of Silicon Valley’s top next generation technology startups, has a limited investment window for friends of T2 Venture Creation. The company is targeting a multi-billion dollar market in clean water. It’s a rare opportunity to make profits while saving lives. Visit Liquidity’s crowdfunding website for more information. 

THE BIG PICTURE

A Tale of Two Quotes
Alistair Brett, International Technology Commercialization Advisor for T2 Venture Creation, from the Innovation Rainforest Blog
The theories of disruptive innovation and agile ecosystems are contrasted in an introduction to the groundbreaking ideas of author Rick Dove. Read more here.
Cheat Sheet: Understanding the Role of Design in Startups
Google Ventures
Five critical design processes give startups a useful way of viewing themselves, their competitors, and the world around them. Read more here.

The Wisdom of Crowds of People Who Don’t Believe in the Wisdom of Crowds
Evolving Economics
A group of people is more likely to arrive at the correct response if you remove those who are supremely confident in their opinions. Read more here.
How To Use Best Practices To Spur Innovation Forward
Forbes
Using industry “best practices” can backfire, stifling innovation, unless the practices are applied constructively. Read more here.
Is Social Trust a Cultural Trait?
Social Evolution Forum
Trust is essential to human cooperation and development, so it’s critically important to understand whether trust is transmitted socially or learned individually. Read more here.

THE LATEST NEWS
Welcome to Berlin’s Silicon Allee, Germany’s New Startup Hub
Los Angeles Daily News
A steep climb in funding, a push to attract foreign talent, and attention from industry giants like Google are spurring interest in a hip Berlin neighborhood where coders and hackers congregate. Read more here.

China’s Innovation Advantage
Forbes
The most populous nation on earth turns from imitation to innovation, bolstered by government support, low-cost engineers and scientists, and the entrepreneurial spirit of the Chinese people. Read more here.

Forget Silicon Valley, Meet Silicon Bali
BBC News
Tech firms are relocating to this low-cost island paradise, realizing the dream of working in a global economy from anywhere in the world. Read more here.

CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Global Innovation Summit + Week 2015
Learn.  Love.  Build… Together.
February 16-20,2015

Silicon Valley, California
50% early bird discount — last day is August 31! Plus highly discounted rates for students, startups, nonprofits, universities, and governments.

 
SPECIAL INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY
Liquidity Nanotech Corporation
Liquidity Nanotech Corporation, one of Silicon Valley’s top next generation technology startups, has a limited investment window for friends of T2 Venture Creation. The company is targeting a multi-billion dollar market in clean water. It’s a rare opportunity to make profits while saving lives. Visit Liquidity’s crowdfunding website for more information. 

Lean and Agile Innovation Ecosystems: Part 1

Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look,
He thinks too much; such men are dangerous.

William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar Act 1, scene 2

Before there were lean startups there was lean manufacturing. Lean manufacturing, which seeks to eliminate all expenditures which do not support value for the customer, was developed by Toyota in the 1950s and was in part responsible for the Japanese auto industry becoming the US auto industry’s fierce competitor two or so decades later. Agile software development, introduced in the 1990s was influenced by ideas and methods from the lean manufacturing. Its purpose is to make software usable, adapt to changes, and allow people to excel according to their strengths, rather than according to the system. More recently, lean startup methodology has become popular, intended to shorten product development cycles by iteratively creating products and integrating user feedback.

As noted in last month’s blog: A tale of Two Quotes http://innovationrainforest.com/2014/06/30/a-tale-of-two-quotes/ Rick Dove in his book on agile enterprises, Response Ability: The Language, Structure, and Culture of the Agile Enterprise. John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 2001, introduced the concept of “Response Ability.” He notes that “The agile enterprise can respond to opportunities and threats with the immediacy and grace of a cat prowling its territory” and goes on to explain that “response-able” components can be designed into enterprise ecosystems. These ideas are closely related to those of re-usable components within a framework (see my October 2013 blog: Create early, use often: Lego™ blocks, learning objects, and ecosystems. Part 2 http://innovationrainforest.com/2013/10/13/create-early-use-often-lego-blocks-learning-objects-and-ecosystems-part-2/).

While much of the focus of agility has been in manufacturing and software development, let’s see if any of the “response-able” components concepts illuminate how innovation ecosystems may become agile; an ability to adapt rapidly to system environment changes. After all, we have already introduced the idea of self-organization in a complex adaptive system, which implies agility. How can analyzing agile manufacturing systems help us in building agile innovation ecosystems able to self-organize and respond effectively to external shocks?

Why should we make comparisons between systems? What new understanding might emerge? Comparisons only makes sense if we can learn more about system B by comparing it with system A, and then only if any similarities are more than just coincidence. A cloud in the sky may look like a face, but I doubt we will learn anything enlightening about how faces grow from studying how clouds form.

History shows benefits of comparisons; our understanding of economic systems has been improved, some would argue, by the study of thermodynamics, and innovation flow may be helpfully compared with biological flow.

Manufacturing cell

The results of Rick Dove’s extensive research on systems such as the manufacturing cell illustrated above indicate that principles of “response–able” systems include components with certain characteristics such as (I’m simplifying considerably as this is only an introduction):

  1. Components of response–able systems are distinct, separable, self-sufficient units cooperating towards a shared common purpose.

In innovation ecosystems the function and activities of each stakeholder and the strength of their cultural alignment should be clear to other stakeholders as well as all cross-functional and collaborative activities and existing supportive and incentive policies. This also applies to stakeholders outside the community. Without alignment towards common purposes “friction” between components can be destructive.

  1. Components of response–able systems share defined interaction and interface standards; and they are easily inserted or removed.
  2. Components within a response–able system communicate directly on a peer-to-peer relationship; and parallel rather than sequential relationships are favored.

For innovative innovation ecosystems this means efficient communications to keep transaction costs low. The application of parallel rather than sequential relationships will be discussed in Part 2 of this blog.

  1. Component relationships in a response–able system are transient when possible; decisions and fixed bindings are postponed until immediately necessary; and relationships are scheduled and bound in real time.

This is not a recommendation for procrastination, rather avoidance of decision making with insufficient information which may fix an ecosystem component which later turns out to be a mistake (e.g. building a new business incubator before a reliable deal flow is apparent).

  1. Components in response–able systems are directed by objective rather than method; decisions are made at a point of maximum knowledge; information is associated locally, accessible globally, and freely disseminated.
  2. Component populations in response–able systems may be increased and decreased widely within the existing framework.
  3. Duplicate components are employed in response–able systems to provide capacity right – citing options and failed – soft tolerance; and diversity among similar components employing different methods is exploited.
  4. Component relationships in response–able systems are self-determined; and component interaction is self-adjusting or negotiated.

In previous blogs we discussed the phenomenon of emergence in complex adaptive ecosystems. Emergence is an outcome of self-organization, without centralized control (#5, #8) in the form of a new level of order in the system that comes into being as novel structures and patterns which maintain themselves over some period of time. Innovation springs from emergence. Emergence may create a new entity with qualities that are not reflected in the interactions of each agent within the system. Emergent organizations are typically very robust and able to survive and self-repair substantial damage or perturbations.

  1. Components of response–able systems are reusable/replicable; and responsibility for ready reuse/replication and for management, maintenance, and upgrade of component inventory are specifically is designated.
  2. Frameworks of response–able systems standardize into component communication and interaction; defined component compatibility; and are monitored/updated to accommodate old, current, and new components.

Reusability was discussed at some length October 2013 as referenced at the top of this blog. However, this topic will be further explored in Part 2 of this blog.

Shakespeare might be surprise to learn that his opinion of thinking men (sic) was wrong; one way the US auto industry responded to the competitive challenge of higher quality Japanese imports in the 1980s, which led to agile manufacturing concepts among other changes, was to enable more thinking among assembly line workers.

Next time: Lean and Agile Innovation Ecosystems: Part 2


Rainforest Rev: Sharing Ideas and Stifling Innovation

THE BIG PICTURE

Why More Start-Ups Are Sharing Ideas Without Legal Protection
The New York Times
T2 Venture Creation’s CEO & Co-Founder Victor Hwang contributes to a lively discussion about nondisclosure agreements, the culture of the Valley, and legal protections for entrepreneurs. Read more here.

How Visionary Leaders Can Stifle Innovation
The Huffington Post
There’s a general consensus today that the best leaders are those who have a clear and compelling vision and inspire others to pursue that vision. But leaders of innovation actually avoid doing just that. Read more here.
5 “Next” Practices for a Culture of Innovation
Executive Street
Encouraging a culture of innovation requires more than putting a pool table in your obsessively hip workspace — it’s about leadership that encourages experimentation, tolerates failure, and accommodates uncomfortable ideas. Easier said than done. Read more here.

Some Puzzling Questions about Innovation in the Digital Economy
Irving Wladawsky-Berger (blog)
Innovation in the digital economy is very different than it’s ever been, and is much harder to control because of the complexities of human and organizational behavior. Read more here.
THE LATEST NEWS
Fleur Pellerin Works to Make France Safe for Tech Startups
Bloomberg BusinessWeek
A deputy finance minister is helping France’s uphill battle to become one of Europe’s premier hubs for tech startups. Read more here.

Scottish Business Start-ups Rise
BBC News
Scotland’s national business advice service is supporting thousands of the nation’s entrepreneurs. Read more here.

In Innovation Quest, Regions Seek Critical Mass
MIT Technology Review
Proximity to human talent and new ideas matter most when looking to grow a local tech ecosystem. Read more here.

CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Global Innovation Summit + Week 2015
Learn.  Love.  Build… Together.
February 16-20,2015

Silicon Valley, California
50% early bird discount — last day is August 31! Plus highly discounted rates for students, startups, nonprofits, universities, and governments.

 
SPECIAL INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY
Liquidity Nanotech Corporation
Liquidity Nanotech Corporation, one of Silicon Valley’s top next generation technology startups, has a limited investment window for friends of T2 Venture Creation. The company is targeting a multi-billion dollar market in clean water. It’s a rare opportunity to make profits while saving lives. Visit Liquidity’s crowdfunding website for more information. 

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