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Innovation Summit #BIF2015

by Louis on September 21, 2015

I am processing my experience at the Business Innovation Factory annual Innovation Summit. This is their 11th year but my first time.  I did not know what to expect. Saul Kaplan, BIF’s warm, modest leader doesn’t say much but is clearly the beloved and respected catalyst. The format is unusual….. dare I say innovative? This is not a nuts and bolts conference. The deliverable is inspiration. I haven’t transcribed my notes yet, but feel compelled to share. You see, in gratitude for their gifts I need to take action. Writing, a first step, is not enough.

The ‘speakers’ are remarkable. But that’s not the point.  They are not lecturing on the details of their programs, organizations or projects.  They are called storytellers. They are encouraged to tell stories, their stories. And to leverage their remarkable stories, the time between sessions…the breaks are designed to fertilize the inspiration by “random collisions of unusual suspects” #RCUS. The storytellers are available. Everyone is talking, trying to synthesize. “What is your favorite story so far?” a common question is difficult..hence this ‘process’ blog.

Who/What spoke to me?

Of course I was thrilled to see Alexander Osterwalder. His books, Business Model Generation and Value Proposition Design are always on my desk, the canvases at the ready to clarify my thinking. No surprise, but always a surprise, Alex was open, engaging friendly. Another hero bites the dust? Not at all. He is the best kind of hero and mentor- a normal human!

Robin Chase, a co-founder of Zipcar talked about excess capacity…Zipcar, AirB&B, Uber… her thesis and new book, Peers Inc is that the sharing economy is about putting excess capacity to work through platforms (inc) and peers. Senior housing?  We don’t need to build more, we need to put what we have to work by revitalizing and connecting. I downloaded the audio version of the book for my drive home.

Basit Chaudhry talked about medical care disconnected from real patients. I was thrilled when he said, “Maybe an architect and carpenter need to be  in the treatment plan for hip replacement.” I wanted to pump my fist and SCREAM “Here I am!” I spoke to Dr. Chaudhry. He lives near me! We will get together soon!

Chris Emdin uses rap music to engage students in science learning. “They are both other languages, why not make the connection!” He asked what was the moment in your life that brought you to be who you are? He knows his 8 year old moment watching the grammys that makes him need to change the world.

I know mine too. It was the first earth day, when I saw the power of people to make change. But knowing that is not enough. I asked an unusual suspect randomly walking next to me from the theater after Chris’s session how I am supposed to transform my earth day experience into action?

She gave me a clear answer.  Step off the curb.

I know that is right. Whether it is the traffic of my own fear, the traffic of   business as usual in aging services, policy and programming I need to innovate across, or the traffic of social media I watch rush by instead of learning to use, I feel newly inspired to step off the curb and make change happen!

Thanks to all the storytellers, the Business Innovation Factory, all the lovely and engaging random suspects with whom I spoke and Leigh Ann Cappello who convinced me to attend.

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