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.


Rainforest Rev: Our New Book on Measuring Innovation

The Rainforest Revolution
News on growing ecosystems for innovation and entrepreneurship

 

How do you grow an innovation ecosystem? Meet our new book!

In connection with the Global Innovation Summit, we’re proud to publish our third book… The Rainforest Scorecard: A Practical Framework for Growing Innovation Potential. The Rainforest Scorecard is the world’s first science-based methodology for measuring and growing innovative, entrepreneurial ecosystems. It provides a systematic way to assess and build innovation culture at scale, in any organization, public or private. Meet the authors, learn the methods, and experience results at the Global Innovation Summit in 3 weeks in Silicon Valley! Register for the Summit now.

HURRY! FRIDAY, JANUARY 30 IS THE FINAL DAY TO RESERVE HOTEL ROOMS

Hotel rooms in Silicon Valley are hard to find! Click here now to make your hotel registration at the San Jose Marriott on February 15-21

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

 

THE BIG PICTURE


Announcing Our New Book, The Rainforest Scorecard

Victor Hwang, CEO & Co-Founder of T2 Venture Creation, from The Innovation Rainforest
The Rainforest Scorecard: A Practical Framework for Growing Innovation Potential is the world’s first comprehensive scientific measurement tool for growing innovative, entrepreneurial ecosystems. It’s the third book in our series on building innovative, entrepreneurial ecosystems. Our first book, The Rainforest, explains the scientific theory and models for complex ecosystems like Silicon Valley. The second book, The Rainforest Blueprint, is a usable design handbook for the broader public. This third book seeks the next step: to provide a practical tool for measuring and growing ecosystems in all types of organizations, public and private, large and small. Read more here.

 

A Practical Approach To Measuring, Understanding and Building Innovation Cultures

Henry Doss, Chief Strategy Officer of T2 Venture Creation, from Forbes
A culture of innovation is a marriage, a synthesis of two worlds:  the world of production and the world of creation; the world of the planned and the world of the unplanned; the world of the empirical and the world of the subjective. It is the synthesis of these two opposite worlds into a functioning whole that is the key to meaningful, purposeful and productive organizations. Now we have tools to systematize, empiricize, and measure innovation potential in organizational cultures, and then guide users through a process that supports the actual, real engineering of innovation into cultures. Read more here.

 

Start-Up Slowdown

Foreign Affairs 
Over the past 30 years, the rate of start-up formation in the United States has slowed markedly. Washington can and should do now to encourage entrepreneurship. First, Washington should reform U.S. immigration law. In addition, Washington needs to make it easier for people who are not hugely wealthy to invest in start-ups. In particular, the Securities and Exchange Commission should make it simpler for investors to buy equity in start-ups through so-called crowdfunding platforms. Of course, the private sector must do more as well, and investors should experiment with ways to support new businesses. Read more here.

 

A Playbook for Small-Business Job Creation

Harvard Business School
About 70 percent of the venture capital goes to only three states—California, Massachusetts, and New York. There is a lack of capital in America’s supply chains, particularly small and innovative manufacturers. While the amount of loan capital for small businesses has continued to increase, the number of individual loans has not. What this points to is a gap in small-dollar loans, which are important to startups and businesses in underserved communities. Read more here.

 

The New, Older Entrepreneurs

WGBH Public Radio Innovation Hub
A recent study finds that there were more founders over 50 than there were under 30. Instead of slowing down as they reach their 50s and 60s, an increasing number of baby boomers are identifying a need and building a company around it. One reason was that seniors faced the same issues as their younger counterparts during the recession: fewer full-time traditional jobs, and a need to think of more creative ways to bring in revenue. Plus, people are living longer – and staying healthier. At age 60, many people still have 25 good, productive years left. Read more here.

 

THE LATEST NEWS


Gaza Accelerator Gets Support From Silicon Valley

CNN Money
The Gaza Strip isn’t exactly known for its burgeoning tech scene. Gaza’s only accelerator — Gaza Sky Geeks — is on a mission to change that. One of their biggest successes is creating a place that’s vibrant, open to creativity and optimistic. Many of the entrepreneurs are highly educated. They have the skills and the talent but they a

 

The Do-Good Startups of Nairobi

Bloomberg BusinessWeek
The impact investors have put $10.6 billion into almost 5,000 companies worldwide in 2013. More than half allocated money to sub-Saharan Africa. A preliminary study estimates that $650 million has been invested in Kenya alone, mostly in the last five years. Despite its drawbacks, Nairobi’s a pretty good place for a foreigner to start a company. English and Swahili are the official languages of Kenya, and Nairobi has several excellent universities that produce sharp graduates. Kenyans take pride in their country’s entrepreneurial hustle. There are direct flights to much of Africa and Europe, making it a convenient place to expand regionally. And if your business targets people with low incomes, Kenya has plenty of potential customers. Read more here.

 

China to Create US$6.5b Venture Capital Fund To Support Startups

Business Times
China will set up a government venture capital fund worth $8.7 billion to support startups in emerging industries. The fund will focus on supporting fledging startups in emerging industries.  It will also help breed sunrise industries for China’s economy to evolve towards the medium and high ends. China’s venture capital market remains small, the legacy of the country’s decades of the planned economy in which private sector’s development is largely subject to a great variety of restrictions. Read more here.

 

CALENDAR OF EVENTS


 

Global Innovation Week

February 15 to February 21.  Silicon Valley, CA
Global Innovation Week is a Silicon Valley-wide festival celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit. More than 20 organizations are hosting events for 1,000 attendees. 50 countries are expected. Interested in hosting your own event? Apply here.

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


Startup Grind 2015

February 9 to February 11, 2015
Redwood City, CA

Startup Grind is a global community of entrepreneurs with monthly events hosted in over 150 cities and 60 countries. The mission is to help educate, connect, inspire, and mentor entrepreneurs. The annual flagship event, Startup Grind 2015, will host a main stage full of world-class entrepreneurs, investors and thought leaders. Register here with a 10% discount.

Announcing Winners of the 2015 Innovation Ecosystem Awards

2015 Global Innovation Summit. February 17–19 • Silicon Valley, CaliforniaSecond Annual Rainforest Recognitions: the Innovation Ecosystem Awards

 

We’re proud to announce the winners of the 2nd annual Innovation Ecosystem Awards! They will be recognized at the Global Innovation Summit in Silicon Valley on February 17-19. The Rainforest Recognitions are the world’s leading contest for companies, organizations, and communities that exemplify the broadest spirit of innovation, by transforming the systems around them.

Come to the Global Innovation Summit! In addition to meeting the award winners, you’ll get the latest insights, practical tools, and case studies on how innovation ecosystems are being built everywhere.

Congratulations to our contest winners!

Below are the 2015 Innovation Ecosystem Award Winners (in alphabetical order):


Ampion

AMPION is a catalyst for entrepreneurship and innovation in the emerging world. We empower entrepreneurial minds to become successful change-makers in their communities and boost private sector growth for development.

We bring together entrepreneurial minds from the fields of IT, design and business who join our 5 day bus tours from around the world. Teams self-organize around exciting ideas for new ventures, and work hard to launch a business and pitch it to a jury of experts and investors at a grand finale.


Calvert Foundation for the “Ours to Own” initiative

Ours To Own is a growing movement of people making small investments — $20 or more — to strengthen the cities we live in and love. We are reclaiming the basic concept of investing: pooling together smaller amounts of money to create bigger impact, for the common good.


EDAWN

The Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada is a private/public partnership established in 1983 committed to recruiting, expanding and supporting newly forming quality companies that bring jobs to the region and have a positive impact on the quality of life in Greater Reno-Sparks-Tahoe


Fund Good Jobs

Fund Good Jobs is a philanthropic investment vehicle. We provide the support and capital small businesses need to grow and create good jobs. Fund Good Jobs is born out of small business’s pressing need for capital. The Fund bets on high need, high growth companies by providing tailored investments ranging from $100K to $2M. These impact investments are designed to help growing businesses maximize the number of good jobs they can create.


Kudumbashree

Kudumbashree strives to develop the model of a micro finance led financial security process into a more comprehensive model of local economic development under the aegis of local governments. This would hopefully sustain the transformation of the local governance agenda from welfare to entitlement. Such a transformation does not come about easily and requires rewriting established administrative and development practices. It requires the community acquiring voice and being heard. It requires institutionalizing processes that allow for participation and meaningful contribution. It is through the realization of citizenship that Kudumbashree would be able to significantly address issues of equity and justice.


Nisolo Shoes


Nisolo means not alone.

As consumers, we are not alone in the world. We recognize that our small choices have a big impact somewhere else. As producers, we are not alone. We have access to the global market and fair compensation for our work. We are a team of makers, doers, and storytellers working together to facilitate a healthy connection between consumers and producers in the global marketplace.


Upstate Venture Connect

Our experience living and working in successful startup ecosystems informs our efforts to build the Upstate NY startup community. UVC partners with entrepreneurs and business/higher education leaders to craft and implement programs that are critical for growing startup communities. UVC built programs share several goals:
•    Increase seed capital availability;
•    Maximize creative collisions between people of diverse skills;
•    Promote knowledge sharing and network connectivity;
•    Ensure long-term sustainability.


Verb

Our mission is to unleash the power of entrepreneurship for good.
Entrepreneurs are a powerful force for making our world what we want it to be. By nature, they question fundamental assumptions, they contemplate unlikely solutions, they dare to do the impossible. Entrepreneurs are impatient. They notoriously believe things can be done faster, better, cheaper. They want results now.


Announcing Our New Book, The Rainforest Scorecard

I’m proud to announce the publication of a new book today. It’s a short book, at only 40 pages. But it is grand in ambition.

What makes this little book so ambitious? We believe it is the world’s first comprehensive scientific measurement tool for growing innovative, entrepreneurial ecosystems. Its authors, Henry H. Doss and Alistair M. Brett, have made a profound gift to the world. We’ll feature it in our upcoming Global Innovation Summit in four weeks in Silicon Valley.

The book is called The Rainforest Scorecard: A Practical Framework for Growing Innovation Potential. It’s the third book in our series on building innovative, entrepreneurial ecosystems. Our first book, The Rainforest, explains the scientific theory and models for complex ecosystems like Silicon Valley. The second book, The Rainforest Blueprint, is a usable design handbook for the broader public. This third book seeks the next step: to provide a practical tool for measuring and growing ecosystems in all types of organizations, public and private, large and small.

Why does the world need such a tool? Because the game has changed. The age of industrialization has passed, and the world has entered the age of innovation. The Rainforest Scorecard should be understood in its historical context.

In a way, the book actually started being written 27 years ago. In 1988, the Department of Commerce created the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award to establish a systematic standard for measuring corporate efficiency and productivity. The Baldrige program was called by Professor David Garvin of the Harvard Business School “the most important catalyst for transforming American business. More than any other initiative, public or private, it has reshaped managers’ thinking and behavior.”

The Rainforest Scorecard was inspired by the Baldrige program and adopts a similar methodological approach. But it is different, because innovation is the counterpoint to production. Whereas production calls for predictability, innovation allows for mistakes and failures. Whereas production calls for efficiency, innovation seeks experimentation. Whereas production often calls for cold-blooded competition, innovation thrives on positive-sum collaboration among diverse strangers.

Production is like prose. Innovation is like poetry. We must live our lives with both, but we must recognize the difference. The book seeks to strike that balance.

This Rainforest project is bigger than us. It’s about transforming the way the world thinks of economic value. That is why we are releasing this new book 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.

We hope this book is a useful lever for leaders seeking to foster innovation. A new economic paradigm is emerging based on entire innovative ecosystems, not just the strength of input factors. Such ecosystems, at a micro level, depend on interactions among human beings. Those patterns of interactions are what we call culture. Culture, therefore, is a lever for economic growth.

Think about that statement. It is revolutionary. This little book is our attempt to nudge the world forward.

Victor W. Hwang is the Executive Director of Global Innovation Summit + Week, a conference that convenes 50 countries on building ecosystems to foster entrepreneurial innovation. He is primary author of The Rainforest: The Secret to Building the Next Silicon Valley.


A Practical Approach To Measuring, Understanding and Building Innovation Cultures

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

Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.  – Mark Twain

The world has changed.  The old ways of doing things are passing.  Industrialization is being replaced by innovation.  Consumption and growth models are being replaced by sustainability and capacity improvements.  Cultures of hierarchy struggle for relevance.  What was linear is now random and what was once a “production line” is becoming a “process of emergence.”  And sitting right in the center of this world transformation is the challenge of something we call culture. This is the Holy Grail of the 21st century.

That’s why my colleague Alistair Brett and I have written a little book that we believe can set organizations on a clear path to understanding, measuring, and engineering cultures of innovation. Not talking about culture, but actually engaging in the practice of building cultures.

Organizational culture has historically been a lot like Mark Twain’s wry quip about weather:   Everyone talks about it, and talks about it, and talks about it.  Seldom does anyone actually do anything about it.  And because real action is so difficult to implement, culture is often viewed as the backwater of organizational strategy.   Its importance, its foundational role in what actually gets done is always acknowledged.  But introduce culture as a conversation about doing, and eyes glaze over, confusion reigns and organizational leaders retreat to platitudes, or the status quo.

There are good reasons for this reaction.  Culture has always been devilishly hard to understand and difficult to talk about in practical ways.   It is elusive in both what it is and how we might actually change it for the better.  Like the weather, we are interested in it; it’s always there in some form; and we wish we could influence it.  We want to influence culture so desperately that we go directly into action; and in service to building new and better cultures, we create organizational models  and develop strong points of view about culture.  This almost always drives mixed results.

We might argue, for example, that culture is a product of aligned leadership, and that’s true, but incomplete.  We might decide that culture is a function of clear performance expectations and consistent leadership guidance, and that’s a little bit true, but woefully incomplete.   We might believe that culture is a thing that we simply articulate as a goal or vision and then we lead an organization to be that vision or goal; that, too, contains a little bit of truth, but is dangerously incomplete.  All of these points of view, and the many others that we profess about culture, suffer from the same deficiency:  They have no framework or system of common language, common measures and common narrative that can serve to align an entire organization.   This absence of shared language and measures is what turns most cultural projects into Towers of Babel.

This core problem of building cultures — the absence of measures and language — is what The Rainforest Scorecard:  A Practical Framework for Growing Innovation Potential  addresses.  It is a project to systematize, empiricize, and measure innovation potential in organizational cultures, and then guide users through a process that supports the actual, real engineering of innovation into cultures.  It seeks to take a conversation that is generally vague, intuitive and almost wistful and render that conversation — that organizational dialogue about culture — pragmatic.

But there is an important, critical nuance to be made about the approach we suggest for building innovation cultures.  Any effort to change, improve, adjust or engineer a culture must be at its heart an effort to bring life and purpose and joy and fulfillment to individuals.  If we render “innovation” and “culture” as simply one more project to wring one more level of efficiency out of an organization, that project will fail.  What our book and approach recognizes — in fact, the very foundation on which it is built — is the notion that a culture of innovation is a marriage, a synthesis of two worlds:  the world of production and the world of creation; the world of the planned and the world of the unplanned; the world of the empirical and the world of the subjective.  It is the synthesis of these two opposite worlds into a functioning whole that is the key to meaningful, purposeful and productive organizations.  Without this deep assumption operating in the thinking and work of building cultures, there will be no innovation, little purpose and no chance of improvement in the world.

The work we would like to start with this little book is just a beginning.  There is still much to be done, by many others.  That’s why we are releasing this book under a Creative Commons license, and inviting collaboration and conversation about innovation and culture by any and all.  We ask only that you credit the original book and license your work under the same terms.

Enjoy the ride!

Henry Doss believes leadership willchange the world.  He is an ecosystem architect, a volunteer in higher education, a student and a musician.


Don’t try to tame wicked problems: Part 1

Wicked: Adjective (slang) meaning very good, excellent; “cool”; “awesome” from 13th Century Middle English wikked, wikke, an alteration of wicke, adjectival use of Old English wicca (“wizard, sorcerer”). “Going beyond reasonable or predictable limits.” Or, the Merriam-Webster dictionary’s (nicely understated) “very bad or unpleasant.”

“A problem with many layers of nested and intractable predicaments,… complex inter-linkages between elements… small perturbations can quickly transform into catastrophic events…” This was how Nepalese citizens viewed the impact of climate change on their country in a 2009 survey of local views.

In previous blogs in this series we have discussed innovation ecosystems as complex systems – with all of their inherent intriguing properties – as we attempt to develop the ‘science’ of Rainforest ecosystems (The Rainforest: The Secret to Building the Next Silicon Valley http://www.therainforestbook.com/ by Victor H Hwang and Greg Horowitt). Innovation Onion1-trans-300x250ecosystems, as well as climate, have their share of nested and intractable predicaments where inter-linkages are hidden like the layers of an onion. New business creation is linked with leadership; leadership linked with culture; resources are linked with frameworks and policies.

In economic development, especially in developing countries, poverty is linked with education, nutrition with poverty, the economy with nutrition, and so on as described the 2014 book Aid at the Edge of Chaos, by Ben Ramalingam. Partly as a result of Ramalingam’s book the global aid community is starting to understand that countries and regions are complex systems, and in turn are made up of sub-complexes, rather than linear modules. In linear systems cause and effect are determinable and typically modeled using Logical Framework Analysis, or ‘logframe’ methods (ubiquitous in the global aid community). The behaviors of complex systems don’t fit into logframes which deal with inputs and outputs and the tasks which produce the latter from the former. A Balanced Scorecard strategy map outlining an organization’s plans to accomplish defined objectives is another example of heavy reliance on cause-and-effect logic as best-practice. For more on causality see April 2014 blog in this series.

The above discussion above leads us to introduce a new wrinkle on complexity this month, namely ‘wicked problems.’ A wicked problem is a social or cultural problem that is the opposite of a ‘tame problem’ as set out below. Tame problems are susceptible to logical analysis. Wicked problems are not. A wicked problem is an extreme case of a complex problem.

Characteristic Tame problems Wicked problems
Problem formulation The problem can be clearly written down. The problem can be stated as a gap between what is and what ought to be. There is easy agreement about the problem definition. The problem is difficult to define. Many possible explanations may exist. Individuals perceive the issue differently. Depending on the explanation, the solution takes on a different form.
Testability Potential solutions can be tested as either correct or false. There is no single set of criteria for whether solutions are right or wrong; they can only be more or less acceptable relative to each other.
Finality Problems have a clear solution and end point. There is always room for more improvement and potential consequences may continue indefinitely.
Level of analysis It is possible to bound the problem and identify its root cause and subsequent effects; the problem’s parts can be easily separated from the whole. Every problem can be considered a symptom of another problem. There is no identifiable root cause and it is not possible to be sure of the appropriate level at which to intervene; parts cannot always be easily separated from the whole.
Replicability The problem may repeat itself many times because it is linear; applying formulaic responses will produce predictable results. Every problem is essentially unique; formulae are of limited value because the problem is non-linear.
Reproducibility Solutions can be tested and excluded until the correct solution is found. Each problem is a one-shot operation. Once a solution is attempted, you cannot undo what you have already done.

Adapted from: 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), September 2014. http://www.odi.org/publications/8571-complexity-wiked-problems-tools-ramalingam-dfid

In the March, April, and May 2013 blogs in this series we speculated about, not just complexity, but solving problems in complex systems. This is what we are called upon to do. It’s of little use understanding the complex nature of innovation ecosystems unless we can understand and resolve issues with which we are confronted, such as how to improve the flow of innovation, how to predict disruptions, how to optimize leadership, and many others.

Inspecting the right side column in the table above shows that many, possibly most, challenges in innovation ecosystems are indeed ‘wicked.’

So what should we do? Through up our hands and admit defeat, or try to make these wicked problems if not tame then at least a little less wicked? This we will shall turn to next month – and find that the slang definition of ‘wicked’ is a better fit than the traditional one.

Next time: Don’t try to tame wicked problems: Part 2

All previous blogs in this series are at: http://innovationrainforest.com/author/alistair2013/


Rainforest Rev: Architecting the Invisible to Create a Culture of Innovation

The Rainforest Revolution

News on growing ecosystems for innovation and entrepreneurship

 

How do you build ecosystems for entrepreneurial innovation? Learn at the Global Innovation Summit.

Learn the latest techniques, gain practical tools, and meet your global peers at the Global Innovation Summit. Get new insights on designing startup communities, improving teamwork, and creating business culture.  It all happens in one month in Silicon Valley! Register now.

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

 

THE BIG PICTURE


 

Architecting the Invisible: Creating a Culture of Innovation

By Greg Horowitt, Chief Evangelist and Co-Founder of T2 Venture Creation, from TEDxSanDiego
What does it take to solve problems in the world? It’s your imagination, because often the knowledge to solve a challenge doesn’t yet exist. Innovation requires experimentation and iteration. It is human-centric. New beliefs lead to new behaviors, which lead to better actions and outcomes. Read more here.

 

Why Big Business Fails At Innovation

By Henry Doss, Chief Strategy Officer of T2 Venture Creation, from Forbes 
Big businesses are constrained by technology, regulatory environment, capital, and risk.  But it’s not these real-world constraints that inhibit innovation. It’s business culture. The engineering of an innovation culture requires a framework that provides a common language, a common set of beliefs, and a common set of meaningful, leading cultural indicators. Read more here.

 

Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others 

The New York Times
Team intelligence is determined not necessarily by IQ, but by high levels of communication, shared participation, and the ability to appreciate each others’ emotions.  Finally, teams with more women outperformed teams with more men. Read more here.

 

What States Need To Do To Grow Their Advanced Industries 

GE Ideas Lab
To spur advanced-industry growth, states must first create the platform. With federal research dollars scaling back, states need to invest in basic science, applied research and technology commercialization. The states must do this with an eye toward building on their distinctive strengths. Read more here.

 

Policy Visualisation Network

Public Sector Innovation
Narrative tells you what your visualisation should be, and how it should flow. Visualisation can help get the attention of decision-makers, and give them a better feel for the underlying story that the data is trying to tell. Design thinking can be used to assist visualisation.  Read more here.

 

THE LATEST NEWS


 

A STEM Workforce Strategy for Nevada and Beyond

Brookings Institution
The strategy which focuses on higher-tech growth industries has begun to pay off. However, the growth in several of Nevada’s target sectors—especially IT, health and medical services, and advanced manufacturing—is already taxing the state’s supply of workers. Too few Nevadans have the requisite skills to secure available positions. Read more here.

 

Latin America’s Newest Experiment in Tearing Down Trade Barriers

OZY
Small and medium businesses in Latin America are benefiting from a new visa zone tying together Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and Chile. The zone is a regional economic bloc called the Pacific Alliance.  It includes what many consider to be the most open and successful economies in the region. Their aim is to turn Latin America’s Pacific Rim states into an economic club following the spirit of the European Union. Read more here.

 

Barcelona: FDI Magnet

IESE Insight
Barcelona has proven itself to be a magnet for foreign direct investment (FDI). It has good quality of life, a well-qualified and low-cost work force, and developing business ecosystems. Read more here.

 

CALENDAR OF EVENTS


 

Global Innovation Week 

February 15 to February 21, 2015
Silicon Valley, CA

Global Innovation Week is a Silicon Valley-wide festival celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit.  More than 20 organizations are hosting events for 1,000 attendees. 50 countries are expected. Interested in hosting your own event? Apply here.


 

Startup Grind 2015

February 9 to February 11, 2015
Redwood City, CA

Startup Grind is a global community of entrepreneurs with monthly events hosted in over 150 cities and 60 countries. The mission is to help educate, connect, inspire, and mentor entrepreneurs. The annual flagship event, Startup Grind 2015, will host a main stage full of world-class entrepreneurs, investors and thought leaders. Register here with a 10% discount.

2015 Global Innovation Summit Agenda


GISHeaderGISLoveLearnBuild

 

2015 Global Innovation Summit Agenda

You’ve never seen an agenda like this!  The Global Innovation Summit is not just a conference.  It’s a living ecosystem, and the world’s largest gathering for builders of the new economy.  We are proud to announce the agenda of the Summit.  No parade of talking heads and powerpoints.  Instead, we feature dynamic interactive learning, hands-on design prototyping, real life case studies, practical tools, and a 50-country-strong peer network.  Come experience an innovation ecosystem spring to life.  Register or apply for the Summit today.

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 11.02.59 AM

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Opening Ceremony: Welcome and Introduction to the Summit
A New Paradigm for a New Economy – a new economic model, one that nurtures the growth of ecosystems that foster successful new ideas, solutions, and ventures.

  • Victor W. Hwang, Executive Director
  • Mark Newberg, Deputy Director

Opening Keynote Interview: The New Capitalism
One that is based on collaborative teams, shared success among diverse parties, a hands-on “maker mindset,” and high levels of trust and rapid experimentation among creative teams.

  • Interviewer: Mary Kay Magistad (BBC Radio and Public Radio International)
  • Kamran Elahian (Global Catalyst Partners)

Design Lab #1: The Rainforest Master Plan
Small teams in a massive real-time, hands-on “laboratory.” Build your own ecosystem and work on designing solutions for tough systemic challenges offered by your peers.

Evening Event: Celebration of Art & Innovation
A live indoor street festival featuring talented and provocative artists, musicians, performers, poets, and others from Silicon Valley and elsewhere.

GISMapping

Wednesday,  February 18, 2015

Special Breakfast Session, sponsored by University of Waterloo
Regional Innovation Ecosystems: Foundations for Growth in the 21st Century.

  • David Fransen Ph.D., chair of the 2015 Waterloo Innovation Summit
  • Iain Klugman, CEO of Communitech

Keynote Case Study: The Shinola Story 
Why open a watch factory in Detroit?  As the company has grown, they’ve created an entire ecosystem around the art of manufacturing and craftsmanship.

  • Interviewer: Loren Feldman (Entrepreneurship Editor, Forbes)

Design Lab #2: Ecosystem Mapping
When building an ecosystem, it always helps to view your challenges from multiple sides. Using leading edge design tools and approaches, the teams will begin to address the issues facing them all…and plotting the solutions.

Conversation #1: Design 

Innovation Inside: Building Innovative Teams
The art of building innovative teams requires skill, vision, perseverance, and the right culture. But how do groups of distinct individuals become high-functioning 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)

Rubiks’ Cubed: Creative Problem Solving at Scale
Every ecosystem has its creative individuals, but what makes creativity happen at large 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
What happens to education when students seek innovation skills as much as raw knowledge, when there are no obvious “right” answers to real-world problems?

  • 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

  • Prafull Anubhai (Chairman, Ahmedabad University)
  • Marcelo Cabrol (Manager of External Relations and Innovation Lead, Inter-American Development Bank)

GISspeaker

Conversations #2: Capital

Atlas Hugged: When Big Money Builds Global Ecosystems
By embracing ecosystems as a means to achieving returns, or by building ecosystems to address big challenges, leaders are charting new paths for capital at scale.

  • Moderator: Isabel Alvarez-Rodriguez (External Relations, Inter-American Development Bank)
  • Jason Baron (Managing Director & Head Portfolio Manager for Social Investments, US Trust)
  • Per Fredrik Ilsaas Pharo (Director, Government of Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative)

Catching Waves: Investing in Emerging Ecosystems
How can startup investing succeed in emerging ecosystems? We’ll explore how early-stage investments are made around the world.

  • Moderator: Fernando Fabre (President, Endeavor)
  • Paul Breloff (Managing Director, Accion Venture Lab)
  • Kevin Fong (Special Advisor, GSR Ventures)
  • Jessica Loman (Director of Operations and Impact, Toniic)
  • Walid Bakr (Director, The Abraaj Group)

Making it Matter: Impact Investing at the Cutting Edge
How impact’s leading practitioners approach the dual challenges of making money while doing good and explore the ecosystem that has arisen to support their work.

  • 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)

Designing Ecosystems Case Studies:

Ecosystems are being built everywhere, but what actually works? 
Catchafire has created an ecosystem of service, driven millions of dollars worth of benefit to non-profits and companies, built a tech platform for good, and made a market where none existed.

  • Moderator: Cynthia Muller (Senior Director of Impact Investing, Arabella Advisors)
  • Scott Schwaitzberg (Head of Enterprise Business, Catchafire)

Building Finance for the Under-banked
What happens when an underserved market intersects with an overlooked opportunity?

  • Arjan Schutte (Managing Partner, Core Innovation Capital)
  • Jennifer Tescher (President & CEO, Center for Financial Services Innovation)

Crowdfunding Case Study

  • Jason Yuan (Managing Director, CircleUp)

Startup Ecosystem Case Study

Design Lab #3
All teams will create 3-D models of a real-world solution to a difficult systemic challenge. Synthesizing. Ecosystem prototyping.

Ecosystem Design Gallery
Featuring over 50 ecosystem prototypes and tackling a wide variety of global challenges.

Startup Showcase, sponsored by European Young Innovators Forum
Featuring 10 of the most exciting startup companies from Europe

GISmodel

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Conversation #3: Leadership

Phoenix Rising: Triumph Over Crisis
What happens in a major crisis when a leader must deal with massive challenges yet have few obvious levers?

  • Moderator: Michael Lesnick (Senior Partner, Meridian Institute)
  • Dr. Sakena Yacoobi (CEO, Afghan Institute of Learning)
  • Jeff Finkle (President & CEO, International Economic Development Council)
  • Michael Hecht (President & CEO, Greater New Orleans, Inc.)
  • Chid Liberty (CEO, Liberty & Justice)

Insight Included: Diversity by Design
Ecosystems thrive with greater diversity. So why is this so hard to implement in practice?

  • Moderator: Janet Crawford (Principal, Cascadence)
  • 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, Soody Tronson Law Group)
  • Victor Hwang (Co-Founder & Executive Chairman, Liquidity Corporation)

Case Studies: Leading Public Policy to Grow Ecosystems

  • Moderator: Chinenye Mba-Uzoukwu (Managing Director & CEO, InfoGraphics Nigeria Limited)

Design Lab #4: Synthesis

Closing Keynote Conversation: Fostering the Entrepreneurial Spirit
Where does the entrepreneurial spirit come from?  How to encourage more of it?  This keynote interview features two of the most influential supporters of entrepreneurship in the world, one in social impact, and the other in the Middle East.  They will share insights, stories, and lessons on how to foster innovative risk-taking everywhere.

  • Nancy Pfund (DBL Investors)
  • Fadi Ghandour (Aramex)

Awards and Closing Ceremony
We announce the winners of the world’s leading awards for ecosystem building: The Rainforest Recognitions.


Rainforest Rev: What the World Needs Is Group Genius

The Rainforest Revolution

News on growing ecosystems for innovation and entrepreneurship

 

We are a community of “ecosystem makers”, a place to exchange ideas and to provide real tools to solve real problems.

Global Innovation Summit is coming up soon and is on track to sell out! Please register here before it is too late. The Summit is offering limited scholarship opportunities for entrepreneurs with disadvantaged backgrounds. International applicants preferred. Apply here for a scholarship.

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

 

THE BIG PICTURE



Group Genius

Todd Johnston, Head of Design for the Global Innovation Summit, from TEDx 
The world requires group genius – the ability of a group working collaboratively in a consistent flow state with dynamic feedback and individual and group creativity. Group genius cannot be mandated; it is an emergent phenomenon.  Infuse your convening with requisite variety. See more here.

 

Balancing Act: Innovation Ecosystems in Challenging Environments

Maria Douglass, a friend and collaborator of T2 Venture Creation, from LinkedIn
In assessing the health of an entrepreneurial and innovation (E&I) ecosystem of academic institutions, we should look at both intellectual and human capital. Intellectual property-based metrics not only do not reflect a university’s true knowledge transfer capability, they may actually impair E&I strategy at an institutional level, according to a research by MIT Skoltech Initiative. E&I ecosystem should include community and industry engagement efforts, localized to the specific needs of the region. Read more here.

 

The Innovative State

Foreign Affairs
The view that governments should stick to the basics: better schools for a skilled workforce, clear rules and a level playing field for enterprises of all kinds. Leave the rest to the revolutionaries.  It is as wrong as it is widespread. Governments often undertake courageous spending during the riskiest parts of the innovation process. The need for such long-term investments has only increased over time as venture capital firms have become more short term in their outlook, emphasizing finding an “exit” for each of their investments within three years. Read more here.

 

Mentorship Is A Key To Long-term Entrepreneurial Success

The Bellingham Herald
Mentorship is important in all stages of business. For a startup ecosystem to thrive, availability and diversity of mentors is critical because it provides confidence for not only the entrepreneurs but for the investors, bankers, partners, key hires and more. In turn mentorship acts as a stabilizing force to a fragile start. Read more here.

 

3 Secrets From a Chess Master Who Built One of the Fastest-Growing Companies in the U.S.

Inc.
Some chess lessons for entrepreneur: 1. If you see a good move, wait. There might be a better one coming. 2. Winning requires you to plan many moves ahead.  3. You have to manage your time or you can lose–even with the better position. Read more here.

 

THE LATEST NEWS



Why Chile and Colombia Are Startup Savvy

The Wall Street Journal
Chile and Colombia are the leaders in entrepreneurship, according to a new study. Both of the Latin American nations scored high on three measures: the share of the working-age population engaged in early-stage entrepreneurial activity, the portion of entrepreneurs who expect to create 20 or more jobs in the next five years and the share of entrepreneurs who say they are offering innovative products or services.  Read more here.

 

Portugal’s Growing Number of Young Entrepreneurs

BBC Business
To help boost entrepreneurship, the Portuguese government has created an investment body called Portugal Ventures to invest 20m euros of public funds a year into start-up firms. Read more here.

 

Everyone Wants a Piece of the Startup Economy — Even Corporations

San Francisco Chronicle
A growing interest in venture capital comes at a time when corporations are throwing large amount of money at innovation. With technology changing so rapidly, companies don’t want to miss out on the next big thing, the way Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and Intel missed out on mobile devices. Read more here.

 

CALENDAR OF EVENTS


Global Innovation Week 

February 15-21, 2015 
Silicon Valley, CA

Global Innovation Week is a Silicon Valley-wide festival celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit.  More than 20 events with 1,000 attendees from 50 countries are expected. Interested in hosting your own event? Apply here.


MENA Entrepreneurial Showcase & Networking Reception

Wednesday, January 14, 2015
6:00 PM to 8:30 PM (PST)
Redwood City, CA

Join TechWadi As They Kick-off the New Year by Celebrating MENA Entrepreneurship!

Marketplace & Networking – 6:00- 7:15 p.m.
Opening Remarks and Keynote – 7:15 – 7:45 p.m.
Pitches / Q&A – 7:45 – 8:15 p.m.
Tickets, Speakers, and Additional Information


Startup Grind 2015

February 9 to February 11, 2015
Redwood City, CA

Startup Grind is a global community of entrepreneurs with monthly events hosted in over 150 cities and 60 countries. The mission is to help educate, connect, inspire, and mentor entrepreneurs.This year’s lineup includes the founders of Google For Entrepreneurs, Yammer, Stripe, Lyft, Airbnb, Pebble, Intuit, Qualtrics, Zendesk, 99 Designs, Twitch, Product Hunt, Survey Monkey,Houzz, SmartThings, BioWare Games, charity: water, and many more. Legendary investors Steve Case, Vinod Khosla, Mark Suster, Alfred Lin, Gil Penchin, George Zachary, Ailleen Lee, Bill Maris, Matt Miller, Charles Hudson will also be joining us.
Register here with a 10% discount.

Why Big Business Fails At Innovation

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

The general tendency of things throughout the world is to render mediocrity the ascendant power among mankind.  – John Stuart Mill

Big businesses don’t seem to be very innovative.  An informal glance around the big business landscape won’t reveal much in the way of innovation beyond perhaps the routine adoption of a new technology, a bit of chasing the most current business model paradigm or acronym, or maybe rejiggering organizational charts here and there.   But, innovation?  Not so much.

A little speculation about why big business doesn’t seem to be innovative might lead to any number of hypotheses.  Perhaps it is the case that large-scale business is based on risk mediation, so don’t look for much strategic risk-taking.  Or it might be that because big businesses are so technology dependent — and more often than not, legacy technology-shackled — that you simply won’t find much innovation requiring  significant (read, “expensive”) system changes.  Or maybe regulatory constraints put a damper on imagination and creativity or anything that smacks of drawing outside the lines.  Or, a little cynicism just might suggest that for the most part most big businesses are at their core a commodity enterprise, with a relatively sticky customer base that rarely leaves; consequently, there is little motivation to pursue game-changing product or service innovation.

There are plenty of other speculations to go around, all of them in some measure based on market realities.  But these speculations and constraints don’t speak directly to the challenge of innovation in big organizations, in spite of the measure of truth they all contain.  They miss the mark because none of these characteristics of large-scale enterprise have anything to do with the presence — or absence — of innovation, necessarily.  They are all simply prevailing conditions — indisputably real, a part of the landscape.  These conditions and constraints, in and of themselves, are not the problem.   Innovation, if it is to operate as a constant in any business has to be in the real context, of real conditions, in the real world.  So, yes, big businesses are  constrained in very specific ways — technology, regulatory environment, capital, risk.  But it’s not these real-world constraints that inhibit innovation.

It’s business culture.

If you look around inside any large-scale operation nowadays, you’ll probably find any number of innovation-labeled initiatives — accelerators, incubators, labs and so on. You might even find an innovation officer or an office of innovation. Most of these efforts or initiatives will be managed and structured in ways that are similar to other external supplier relationships, even if the office or initiative dedicated to innovation happens to be internal. That is, what you’ll find is that in all of these cases, innovation is being delegated, or outsourced, or in some manner separated from day-to-day operations, as if innovation is something that happens there, but not here. The challenge of course, is that here — inside the organization’s culture — is exactly and precisely where innovation will occur.

There is a strategic distinction that helps to better understand the strong, direct correlation between innovation and culture, and this distinction is critical to understanding and engineering broad cultural change: That is the distinction between innovation and output, or between innovation and invention. Output — the inventions, ideas, and new things that can be seen and touched and measured — is something organizations may very well be able to buy. Businesses buy output every single day: newly invented technologies, or new management paradigms from consulting firms, or things – like merchandising or signage. In fact, big businesses can be very, very good at establishing powerful relationships with multiple suppliers who are providing inventive, new output. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

But two deep, strategic challenges present themselves in this outsource/purchase approach to innovation:

Herding:  When businesses outsource innovation and limit themselves to the purchase of innovative output from suppliers, they inevitably position themselves in the “me too” category.  If there is a truly innovative product, strategy, market positioning or management paradigm out there to be bought and sold, then of course everyone is in the market for it.  And inevitably this competition to buy the newest innovation leads to purchase herding behavior, with everyone leaping into the market place to “buy innovation.”  As an example, one need only think of the early days of data mining technologies, and the rush to buy data innovation (read: “data technology”) followed by a long, long period when deployment of these purchased technologies languished in an operational no-man’s land.  It was a case of  “great output,” followed by “low innovation” — at least insofar as execution is concerned.

Optimization:  Even if it were the case that somehow an organization managed to buy into an innovative “thing” and somehow managed to be first to market with a particular innovation, the deployment of that innovation is directly dependent on its culture.   It is one thing to have a new technology, or a new product, and quite another to take that technology or product and deploy it with efficiency, focus, drive and commitment.  A moment of honest, deep reflection will reveal the truth of this problem. How many strategies (service differentiation), or technologies (call center interactive technologies) or products (mobile payments) come onto the market as potentially innovative solutions, and then stall or limp along in the deployment?   Most?  All?  The difficulty sits inside the conflation of output and innovation — “the thing” and culture.  Owning the most innovative product in the world has little real value without the cultural ability to absorb, institutionalize and deploy that product.

As a rule, though, mention the word “culture” – especially “innovation culture” — and eyes begin to glaze over.  Where is culture?  What is it?  How do you change it?  How do you even know what to change and how to change?  With these questions in mind, little wonder that the default strategy of business is generally to focus on outputs, rather than culture.  It seems to be a choice between doing what you can understand, even if what you understand is incomplete, or doing what you don’t understand, even knowing that what you don’t understand is the critical piece of the puzzle.

Still, the issue, the challenge, the opportunity remains:  How to build a big business culture (or any culture, for that matter) that can execute, innovate, deploy and differentiate itself, using the same products and strategies as its competitors?  The answer to that question is one of language, of complexity, of measurement and of leadership.  But more than anything, it’s a matter of  first and foremost simply recognizing the need to get to work on the entire culture of the organization, and making a long-term commitment to understanding, building and nurturing those aspects of organizational culture that lead to innovative practices.   The doing of this  — the engineering of an innovation culture — requires a framework, an empirical paradigm or guide that provides a common language, a common set of beliefs, and a common set of meaningful, leading cultural indicators.

This framework, this approach, this roadmap for innovative cultures will be the subject of my next installment.

Henry Doss believes leadership can change the world.  He is a venture capitalist, a volunteer in higher education, a student and a musician.