Vital Blooming Mountains

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Last week I attended the Global Innovation Summit in Silicon Valley put on by Victor Hwang (@rainforestbook) and his T2VC team.  That's me on the right together with the Kauffman Fellows team. "Vital Blooming Mountains" is an anagram for "Global Innovation Summit" that I think pretty effectively summarizes what the objective of the week was.  

Officially, the events stated mandate was to answer the question "How do we design entire ecosystems to drive entrepreneurship, technology, and economic impact?" I was excited to experience #GISW14  and help sow the seeds of innovation in the environments that I work across.  

My table had quite an eclectic group of participants that hailed from Saudi Arabia, Australia, Illinois, Iowa, DC, Silicon Valley and LA.  We had Burning Man, APLU, Aramco, Skoolbo, Purdue University, Stanford, The Gazette Company and Somark (a company that tattoos mice) represented.  I was happy to share my thoughts on the early childhood education ecosystem we are creating with www.skoolbo.com.  Skoolbo's challenge is to replicate the success we've had in Singapore with our game based social learning platform throughout the other 159 countries where we have over 300,000 users.    

It was an atypical event, creatively done with very strong participation from the attendees.   Here are my key takeaways:

-Systemic innovation doesn't happen on it's own

Serendipitous innovation can deliver the occasional breakthrough, but systemic progress over time needs help—it is possible, and necessary, to design and architect for this.  

-One size doesn't fit all

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Picking up the Silicon Valley model and replicating it isn't the answer.  Creating a unique ecosystem where innovation thrives over time is specific to the surroundings and environment that it exists within.  Every economy, city, or company is unique—and their own innovation ecosystems will be as well.   

-Innovation doesn't always happen at scale

Sometimes innovation is small, but a lot of small innovations can add up to entirely new ways to approach and do things.  I think we're seeing this today with the Internet of Things.  IoT is the convergence of a lot of complimentary tools, technologies and developments that are starting to change the way that we interact with each other, products, services and our environments— bit by bit, piece by piece.

-Things can be much better than they are, and they need to be

The world isn't exactly hitting it out of the park.  There was a universal (although obviously biased) belief that we can run ourselves, our planet, our businesses, our governments, our economies MUCH, MUCH better than we are.   This group believes that the future is much better than the past, and is working to make that happen.  

Want to create your own vital, blooming mountain of innovation?  Then join in and help us spread the word.   

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