BIF, Innovation & Nike

Thank you Lea Carey for this short video from last year's BIF!  Yup - Just do it!!!!  Lea should know - she's co-founder of Women who Innovate and a serial entrepreneur in healthcare.  Quick - sign up for BIF2015 before every last seat is gone!!!

Coming: Dips, Rocks and Thunderstorm

Joseph Pistrui's post from his blog really resonated with me and I thought it would with you!  Jospeh is a friend, colleague and wise man. He diverse background and expertise gives him the credibilty to speak on our very dynamic world.  So read on and please ponder.  And thank you, Joseph, for letting me repost your words here!

A recent tweet by 7billCORPORATE (@7billcorp, part of @7billionideas) really nailed the truth about innovation and business. On 30 January 2015 via Twitter, a brilliant graphic was added to a post that contrasted the perception many people have about the path to progress and what it’s really like. Here ’tis:

Path to Progress

So many think that innovation happens quickly, smoothly, without roadblocks or bumps. And that may be true, for a few. If you are operating in a business environment in which there is a reasonably clear — and straight — line to who your future customers will be and what products and services you need to develop for them, first count your blessings and then get on the accelerator. Assuming you have the technology and know-how to make it happen, these are precisely the conditions when speed is critically important. Start. Go fast. Keep going. Don’t stop.

In these rare moments in the world of enterprise, getting to your destination as fast and efficiently as possible must be your paramount goal. The business world has countless tools for planning and eking out process improvements for such journeys, and you probably already know how to use them well.

In such cases, think of the time you may have watched with envy that shiny red Porsche Carrera speeding off down the highway with the driver pushing “pedal to the metal”. Recall the roar of all that horsepower as it reached top speed and peak performance, unchallenged by anything or anyone on the road.

Unfortunately, such an analogy isn’t the reality for most firms. “The future” for most businesses and organisations I encounter will be the kind of path that 7billCORPORATE displays. There will be dips, rocks, wobbly bridges over unknown chasms and deep water where you expected smooth pavement. Oh, and don’t forget the thunderstorms.

For most of those I meet, their future operating environment is uncertain, ambiguous and even (heaven forbid) unknowable. During their journey in time, many of the time-tested tools and techniques at their disposal will prove to be, well, not very helpful.

That does not mean that what’s needed is a new car and a new driver. Think now of that same Porsche, only this time keeping in mind its other performance capacities, such as cornering, shifting, braking and speed. This exceptionally well-engineered automobile is both ready for the high-speed straightaway as well as the curves, redirections and sudden changes of speed required to drive the rocky road to tomorrow.

Yet, if you lack the mindset to power up and power past unpredictable obstacles, you might as well be on skateboard with only one set of wheels. You’re not going to move far, fast or fearlessly. Which is why, as I work with companies large and small, I find that what’s most needed is a new leadership mindset, skillset and toolset. Too many leaders have great cars, but they lack versatility. The 21st century leader must be able to move fast when he or she knows the right direction, be cautious when the terrain is unknown or threatening, be willing to change directions when new and compelling information becomes available, and be able to stop quickly — even altogether — should the conditions for progress prove impossible.Porsche Carerra

Becoming more versatile (or ambidextrous) as a leader is no small task; but, in my experience, it is now an imperative for survival, and even more an imperative for growth. Our Nextsensing Project is about working with the mindset of any leader facing an uncertain future. No matter what kind of car he or she drives, moving into the future requires an understanding of the unique challenge at hand, the identification of the appropriate tools to use for the situation, and the building of confidence that only rough roads truly test the abilities of the vehicle — and the driver.

Porsche image from

For Whom Do We Innovate?

If you ever wondered about the power of innovation to radically change lives, wonder no more.  Anish Sarma, a volunteer at SpeakYourMind Foundation (SYMF) and research engineer at Braingate, tells us. SYMF spun out of the BrainGate lab at Brown University and Massachusetts General Hospital to develop communication technologies for people who can't communicate effectively because of neurological injury and disease.  You see why I love working with Millennials?? Please consider donating here.


For Whom Do We Innovate?

I didn't really "get" tablets for a long time. There wasn't much I could do on a tablet that I wouldn't rather do on a laptop. The main advantage of the tablet seemed to be that it made streaming video and social media look nicer.

Then I saw someone use a tablet to type "Hello."

The typist was a woman who is paralyzed from the neck down and unable to speak. Technology developed by the SpeakYourMind Foundation has enabled her and others with severe disabilities to communicate, when other, costlier technologies have been less successful. The growth of tablets as a platform has helped make SpeakYourMind's technology practical and affordable. (Disclosure: I'm a volunteer and unabashed shill for SpeakYourMind.)

As an engineer, I'm as enthusiastic about innovation as anyone. I'm waiting for my jetpack, too. Sometimes, however, I wonder what exactly we're reaching for. The sleek, frictionless future sold by our most successful tech-media companies says, "You deserve better than to lift a finger." But for people who can't use their fingers or their arms or their voices, the technology designed to help is paleolithic compared to common consumer gadgets. I'm learning to measure the success of an innovation not by its profit margins but by its benefit to people on the margins. Ubiquity is not the same thing as progress.

That's why I've been so excited to volunteer with SpeakYourMind. The core technology of SpeakYourMind is simple. But the group's real innovation is its commitment to using that technology to advance the basic rights of people with severe disabilities: to involve them in fundamental decisions about their own health care, to bring them into the workforce, and to give them the freedom to express themselves to their loved ones and the world.

Every new tech startup claims to be about people, not gadgets. SpeakYourMind has me convinced.