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Archive: innovation

December 23rd, 2010 | By Contributing Writer | Posted in Art & Society, Business & Economy, Environment & Energy, Innovation | 1 Comment

4 Trends that will Drive the Next Economy

This is a guest blog by Jean Brittingham.

I’ve been a little behind on blogging because we are working feverishly on our book—The SmartGirls’ Way. It’s very exciting to see it coming together. In the book we discuss the characteristics, strengths and success stories of women entrepreneurs and the critical role that women will play in the Next Economy. Today I thought I’d share my thoughts about this new economy as I see it evolving.

The real recovery from the “great recession” will come with some major changes that portend good things for entrepreneurs. First, there is near-consensus that the recovery cannot be built on consumption as it has reigned in the last 50 or so years. Resources are too limited, the planet is too fragile and large corporations that supported this consumption too easily become institutions unto themselves that care only for their own future and their own profits and fail in a huge and costly manner.

Instead we should begin to envision and shape the next economy—one that is focused on creating a new solid economic base, is powered by a low-or no carbon energy source, is driven by innovation, transparency and collaborative business models and creates opportunity across the entire spectrum of social-economic reality.

There are many thoughts and ideas out there about what will drive and create this new economy. I believe it will be driven by the following four trends:

  1. A resource-constrained environment on a health-challenged planet
  2. The creation of “mega-intelligence” through collaborations that create in-depth knowledge and insights in the fields of science and technology
  3. A massive amplification of creativity that feeds innovation
  4. The rise of entrepreneurial collaboratives

Let’s first look at the issues related to a resource-constrained planet. This is not a hypothesis but rather our reality. Peak oil is around the corner. Coal, while abundant, is a major contributor to unhealthy air and global warming. Increasingly, we will have to learn how to reuse what we have already used and treat the planet as the amazing life support system that it is. This one truth has to be embraced—the planet does not exist for the benefit of the economy. It just exists. If we foul it forever, we are truly lost.

But an economy that benefits humankind, supports the development of peaceful society on earth, and sustains our life-support planet infinitely is not only possible but we can actually begin to see how we will get there.

Mega-intelligence as I am talking about it here is not a new field of study of the so-called super class of genius. I don’t mean to be dismissive, but if brilliant individuals could save the world, we would certainly be in a different spot right now. More appropriately, this term refers to the combined or collective intelligence that can be put to a problem through the connectivity and transparency afforded by increasing ubiquitous technology. Our digital connections have taken us well beyond any boundary condition previously thought of around the internet (for those who like to think about limitations) to a place where individuals of different cultures and language are collaborating on projects ranging from nuclear energy to music in the “cloud” and we are lending our personal computing ability to work 24/7 on the worlds most pressing problems—at least those that can be approached through 0s and 1s.

We are at the edge of knowing how to harness and focus this intelligence and the success of recent movements ranging from politics to science assures us that we will solve many more problems together than we have even dared to dream of by ourselves.

Creativity is fuel. It generates momentum and optimism. A wonderful/horrible truth of human nature is that when pushed to the limit, we get very creative. Our survival instinct is strong and often kicks it into high gear to help us out of a tight spot.

The current economic reset represents just such a tight spot. Even if you don’t understand or care much about economics, it’s clear that something dramatically different is afoot. Not only is a rebound to the old consumptive habits unlikely—most of us don’t seem to want it. But we aren’t excited about a future that is less interesting or comfortable either. So things are getting creative. Creative ways of working and living, of finding value propositions and new business models and creative about collaboration and wealth creation. Creativity and urgency have energized some amazing collaboratives and innovations.

And finally, whether as a result or a response, the willingness to exercise our entrepreneurial spirit has never been higher. Whether in the clean-energy economy, social enterprises focused on creating breakthroughs in traditionally underserved communities or as spin-offs and internal “tanks” in the big dog corporations, the fall of the old economy has seen the rise of entrepreneurs.

Polar opposites come together to pave the way to a future that is more vibrant, resilient and flexible. A world where entrepreneurial spirit and self-reliance is augmented and magnified by a connected creativity supported by technology that builds communities that learn, grow and make a living together.

You can see why I think the entrepreneurial future is one where women will thrive.
Success in the future will likely be measured more by the quality of your experiences than the 0s after your income bracket. Your net contribution to life will matter more than your net worth. And the inheritances your grandkids will care about are great communities, interesting work and a healthy planet.

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June 28th, 2009 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Innovation | 2 Comments

Innovation is the Future

Tom Friedman gets it right in his column today, quoting the former CEO of Intel as to what the best path out of recession is. First, require everyone to graduate from High School before they can get a drivers license. Then, as Friedman quotes Craig Barrett…

Barrett argues that we should also use this crisis to: 1) require every state to benchmark their education standards against the best in the world, not the state next door; 2) double the budgets for basic scientific research at the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy and the National Institute of Standards and Technology; 3) lower the corporate tax rate; 4) revamp Sarbanes-Oxley so that it is easier to start a small business; 5) find a cost-effective way to extend health care to every American.

Much of what I have been saying for some time.

Glen Hiemstra is a futurist speaker, consultant, blogger, internet video host and founder of Futurist.com. To arrange for a speech contact Futurist.com.

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June 12th, 2009 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Innovation | 1 Comment

Large Scale Innovation

Recently I’ve begun to get acquainted with Dr. John Kao, and a project he has begun to encourage “large scale innovation” in the world.

Dr. Kao is a former Harvard Business School professor, best known for his books Jamming: The art and discipline of business creativity, and Innovation Nation. His new project, the Institute for Large Scale Innovation, is sponsored by Deloitt LLP. The focus is on developing innovations that can be harnessed to address complex global challenges, as compared to the way we often think of innovation as an exciting new product. Large scale innovations do not have to be huge projects, but rather should have widespread effect and be “appropriately inclusive.”

The Institute plans to develop core programs that include…
…Supporting the emergence of a network of significant innovation leaders with the influence to provide a meaningful stewardship function for innovation at national and international levels.


…Developing agenda-setting intellectual capital that defines large-scale innovation and leads to the development of meaningful tools and best practices.


…Creating high quality learning experiences relevant to the next generation of innovation leaders.


…Underwriting research that documents the emerging global innovation economy, key innovation flows as well as new competitive dynamics and opportunities.

An initial conference was held last week in the Bay Area, a “Global Innovation Summit of the I20.” The Institute invited a group of innovation leaders from around the world to “create an agenda for global stewardship and collaboration regarding large-scale, societal innovation issues.”

We look forward to a report of the results of this summit meeting, and we continue conversations with Dr. Kao and the Institute regarding possible collaborations with Futurist.com.

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May 29th, 2009 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Innovation | Comments Off

Twenty Innovations for the Future

I just did a radio interview with KMJO in Fargo, North Dakota, about the Business Week feature on 20 innovations for the future. They were especially interested in the innovations around cancer and nanotech-based treatments, and next generation biofuels. We had written about this Business Week feature before, and you can find more information here.

Later today I will post a summary of some highlights from the Future In Review conference, with even more news about exciting innovations.

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May 8th, 2009 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Business & Economy | 9 Comments

What Comes After the Great Recession?

My year as a consulting futurist and speaker began on January 8, 2009 with a speech on future trends for Cobalt, a company that does websites and other marketing and computer services for the auto-dealer community, historically General Motors dealerships. They obviously face some big challenges in 2009.

In that speech I said, for the first time, “This is not your father’s recession, but it could be your children’s renaissance.” Since that time most observers have suggested that when we come out of this recession the world economy, national economies, and our personal economic outlooks, will be different. As one friend, formerly a city manager, now CEO of a municipal development corporation put it, people hoping to get back to normal are going to be surprised the learn that the next normal does not look like the old normal.

So, here is my question. If what emerges on the other side of this economic chasm is something new, what does it look like? I hope SNS blog readers will weigh in on this via comments.

In the video interview below, I suggest some preliminary thoughts. The interview was conducted by Brenda Cooper, futurist, science fiction writer, and technology executive. Brenda happens to be a featured speaker at FiRe 2009 in the program slot on the final day, where we look “further ahead.” (I will be interviewing Brenda on-stage.)

We live in a time where exaggeration of all things is the norm, and thus it is easy to become caught up in the idea that “everything is going to change,” (a familiar phrase, no?) because of the economic meltdown. We need to be cautious with our forecasts. But a few things seem likely – a less debt-driven consumer culture which translates to slower growth in consumer spending, a financial culture focused more, for a while at least, on investing in innovation and productive capacity rather than merely manipulating digitized money in the global casino, a more cautious corporate culture when it comes to debt financing, ditto for the construction industry. Most of all, a shift in societal values toward sustainability and back to thrift as admirable habits. These value shifts may manifest most of all in the newest generation, the Millennials, if we believe what they say they want. Admittedly, we will have to see if these value-shifts hold and become long lasting as the long climb out of the recession continues.

The video interview also explores what keeps me up at night: the chance of a run-away negative feedback loop if Arctic methane meltgets out of control and we get a quick spike in global warming, and also the deep political divides in this nation that lead people to prefer to be right rather than happy. The latter shows up especially when people express a hope that certain economic remedies fail, and fail spectacularly, so that a particular point of view can be proven right, never mind the consequences for communities.

And finally, in the interview with Brenda I discuss the concept of optimism, about which I am asked all the time. To be optimistic is to believe, as I think Mark Anderson once said, that human beings have the capacity, when it matters, to choose the right problems and apply workable solutions to them. This is not guaranteed, but always an option.

Let’s hear from some of you: If the world on the other side of this recession is actually different from what came before, what are a few of its new features?

Here is the video interview of Glen Hiemstra on the future and what comes after this recession.

[This blog entry is cross-posted at the Strategic News Service blog site.]

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