incentive2innovate – Keith Ferrazzi and Don Tapscott

by Braden Kelley

After the welcome speeches concluded, Keith Ferrazzi came out and tried to get people to loosen up and get ready to take risks and collaborate for the greater good during the conference. Keith made several key points including the fact that you can’t have innovation unless you have the ability to take social risk.

Keith Ferrazzi talked to the audience about how telling a story is emotional transportation to a place where someone actually cares. He then began to tell a story about his upbringing and being the poorest kid in the best school and how that influenced his life. He linked that to how real innovation requires people to let their guards down, take risks, and care about their teams.

Keith had the audience do two interaction exercises by turning to their neighbors and asking each other “What are you passionate about?” and “What holds you back?” He did this to force people to think about it and to express it.

Don Tapscott, author of “Wikinomics”, “Growing up Digital”, and “Grown up Digital” took the stage after Keith Ferrazzi. Don started by talking about technology and interconnectedness. Don talked about how the door to his hotel room probably has an IP address, before moving onto a story about a friend who’s fence talks to his sprinkler because if a burglar jumps the fence, the sprinkler is the first line of defense.

Don’s next topic was the exploration of how generations impact society, and how the digital generation just elected their first President of the United States – Barack Obama. The defining characteristic of the Digital Generation is that they grew up bathed in bits. They turn on their PC when they get home instead of their television. Spending time online instead of watching television changes the way people think and the way their brains function.

From there Don moved on to talk about how the Digital Generation is probably the first generation where kids occupy the position of expert on a subject in the household. He also made the point that just because today’s kids don’t read the newspaper, it doesn’t mean they are not current on the news. The Digital Generation tends to triangulate its news using 60-70 rss feeds instead of picking up a dead tree. Plus, The Daily Show is only funny if you know what is going on in the news.

Don Tapscott talked about how the Net Generation will be characterized by innovation, and how your organization shouldn’t have a web site, but instead it should create a self-organizing, vibrant community. Self-organization has been around since human history, but what used to happen over months or centuries now happens over days or weeks. Obama used a platform for self-organization to get elected, but now he is also using it as a platform to govern.

According to Don we are in the era of mass collaboration. So why in this era of self-organization isn’t everyone an independent contractor? Well, the costs of search and collaboration are still one reason. As a result, organizations will still be better served by having employees for some time. They will however turn increasingly to open innovation. What is going to be one of the keys for organizations as they move to open innovation?

Well, if you’re going to be naked, fitness is no longer optional – Moving to open innovation means being innovationally fit. Idea Connection and Innocentive are just a couple of the companies out there helping to facilitate open innovation.

Don Tapscott closed by talking about how organizations are going to have to adapt to the new generations and to the new realities. He spoke about how education is in trouble, and how the smartest kids try to get an ‘A’ without going to lecture. With so many existing institutions facing paradigm shifts, will new leaders emerge with new ideas to successfully lead the transformation?

What do you think?

Braden Kelley (@innovate on Twitter)

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