Innovation with Teeth

indiaSo, it seems very timely that the New York Times ran a story on Innovation from the Top Down right after Gary and I got back from a deep dive conference on Innovation from the bottom up. The theme at Chicago’s IIT Institute of Design was Innovation and Sustainability and the discussions were wide ranging. But the upshot was that all designers and thinkers must actively participate in the process of driving real innovation…..”Innovation with teeth.”

Sam Pitroda showed us that it isn’t how fancy your power point deck is but the force of your personality…no offense to Larry Keeley who wowed me with his amazing speaking presence and humorous style…and really nice powerpoint deck.

Mr. Pitroda talked about how real Innovation has to be scalable, that is, good for everyone. He pointed out that our current western lifestyle may not be possbile for the whole world…which is a serious issue to be resolved.

The New York Times asks the question: can these wicked, tangled issues the world faces be solved by lone designers and inspired, individual thinking? Or will it take the force of a corporation or a government? This was a recurrent theme at the conference…How do you drive change when there are so many other factors at work, including the fear of failure and avoidance of responsibility that is so pervasive in many company cultures? Which makes me think…with so much inertia in large organizations, how can they truly drive real Innovation without individualistic thinking or outside help?

buglabsOn a more personal note, Peter Semmelhack of Buglabs rocked the house. I felt like the audience really got the power of the platform he has developed with Ecco. The strength of the Long Tail of Electronics to serve smaller markets while delivering future profits is really intriguing and powerful. Like any platform: Facebook, the Adobe Suite, iPods, it’s strength grows as adoption increases. People can share knowledge, more accessories exist, more critical mass is reached. BugLabs can really change how devices can get to market, in and more open-source attitude. I hope Bruce Nussbaum comes down to tinker with us, as promised!

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