Time to Rethink Brainstorming

Brainstorming is a classic method for getting a group to generate ideas. A topic is suggested, people speak up with their ideas and suggestions, and someone writes them down. The technique is so commonly used and assumed to work, I was surprised to learn that research shows this technique is actually not effective. Keith Sawyer,… Read more

An Innovation Accelerator: The 2013 New Hampshire Social Business Innovation Challenge

“Our aim is for the New Hampshire Social Business Challenge to serve as an innovation accelerator” was how Yusi Turell of the Carsey Institute described the intent behind this first-ever Business Challenge in New Hampshire. The Challenge involved teams submitting proposed designs for innovative, business-oriented solutions to pressing social and environmental issues at the state,… Read more

How to Spur Collective Innovation or Stall It

When physicist David Bohm studied what enabled Einstein and other physicists able to achieve breakthroughs, he discovered that they emerged out of free open conversations where they “exchanged ideas without trying to change the other’s mind and without bitter argument” as described in a Psychology Today article called Awakening Our Collaborative Spirit. They felt free… Read more

What is the Right Question?

At the recent Stonyfield Entrepreuneurship Institute, a boot camp for community-minded entrepreneurs, small business leaders, such as Vermont Cookie Love and Breakwind Farm (specializing in baked beans, no joke) presented a ten-minute overview of their business and asked for input on a key question or two. A panel of experienced advisers provided advice and feedback…. Read more

If We Only Knew What We Know

Collaboration tools, such as blogs and Twitter, are changing the way people interact and the way information can flow within and across organizations. In a recent interview in MIT Sloan Review with Andree McAfee of the Center for Digital Business at MIT shared his take on what sells CEO’s on social media. He uses the… Read more

The Diversity Innovation Connection

At last week’s Green Innovators in Business Network Solutions Lab in Cambridge, MA, participants explored how to accelerate innovation to bring low-carbon solutions to market on a big scale. Accessing diverse perspectives is key to finding the innovative solutions to challenging problems, as illustrated by case studies of Innocentive and EMC. Searching Wide for Innovative… Read more

Strategic Questioning

“If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.” —ALBERT EINSTEIN Since many of the challenges we face… Read more

Oppression vs. Innovation

The coverage of the oppressive conditions in the Middle East and Obama’s recent speeches about cultivating our innovation potential at home were a striking contrast. A New York Times article described Egyptian leader Mubarak’s rule saying: “His brand of despotism produced an authoritarianism that suffocated his people, a bureaucracy that corrupted the most mundane transaction… Read more

Where Good Ideas and Solutions Come From

Many aspects of addressing the sustainability challenge are what Ronald Heifetz, who teaches leadership at Harvard, calls “adaptive problems” as contrasted to technical problems: “There are problems that are just technical. I’m delighted when a car mechanic fixes my car, an orthopedic surgeon gives me back a healed bone, or an internist gives me penicillin… Read more