THE BIG PICTURE
Harvard Business Review
Recent research suggests that the critical variable influencing one’s scope of attention is not emotional valence (positive vs. negative emotions) but motivational intensity, or how strongly you feel compelled to either approach or avoid something. Read more here.
Big companies should create an ecosystem that encompasses partnerships with different types of entities. Also, they should build a portfolio of engagements that represents the different stages of innovation, from generating ideas to buying a technology to acquiring a company. Read more here.
World Economic Forum
European corporates and start-ups must collaborate more and better on innovation if Europe is to remain internationally competitive. Read more here.
The Next Web
Understanding the way your brain works and regularly training it can help you better exploit your limited creativity reserves and increase them over time. Read more here.
THE LATEST NEWS
Despite a recent slowdown, Mongolia has experienced dramatic economic growth in the 2000s, exceeding global trends. Foreign direct investment, mining, infrastructure spending, and strong fiscal and monetary stimulus measures have driven much of this growth. Read more here.
Chattanooga is building the largest and fastest Internet networks in the Western Hemisphere. It has attracted billions of dollars in new investment and a flock of entrepreneurs to the city. Read more here.
A marriage of academia, private money and entrepreneurial savvy—exemplifies that of Cambridge. What began with the creation of business parks to host enterprising dons and their doctoral students in the 1970s has grown into the most exciting technology cluster in Europe. Read more here.
The Wall Street Journal
The growth rate of new businesses remains stalled, but the share of women-owned firms has climbed. Read more here.
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.
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 ecosystems, 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/