Saul Kaplan: Ideas Worth Scaling

BIF-Logo1If TED is about Ideas Worth Spreading then BIF is about Ideas Worth Scaling. I may have stumbled on to BIF’s new positioning. I blurted it out in my last post Biotech Disruption Part Deux. It has stuck with me all week. What do you think?  I love TED and what it is doing.  I am biased due to my friendship with Richard Saul Wurman (RSW) who founded it.   RSW has been a BIF advisor from the beginning and as a BIF-5 storyteller on October 7-8th, he will share the story of his new book about an old fable.  The BIF community was proud this week being named by Mashable in the same company as TED as one of the “Top 7 Places to Watch Great Minds in Action“.

I think spreading ideas is critical but the end goal is solving a problem or creating a new opportunity.  I don’t know about you but over the course of my day I hear a lot of great ideas.  I even occasionally contribute a few. The question is can the ideas translate into action and can they scale?  I think a lot about how to enable R&D at the business model and systems level. The BIF community is passionate about scaling new ideas in health care, education, and energy.

Saul KaplanReal world experimentation is imperative to solve the big social issues of our day.  These systems all need to be transformed not tweaked. We have the technology available to enable system changes.  It is not technology that is getting in the way it is humans and the organizations we live in, both stubbornly resistant to change.  We need to try more stuff. We need to experiment with new system approaches designed around the patient, student, and citizen.

Many good ideas spread and catalyze important conversations but far too few translate into action and even fewer scale to deliver value to a meaningful percentage of those that can benefit from the idea.  The promise of technology is to deliver value at lower prices to more people.  We are not taking full advantage of technology because we are stuck in old systems.

Scale is important.  It is one thing to cook a great meal at home for a few friends. It is quite another to serve 100, 1000, or a million at the same level of individualization and quality.  We have the technology and platforms to scale new systems designed to deliver customized solutions to the individual.  However we are frozen in industrial era systems that only know how to deliver the same solution to the masses.  We see the same patterns across health care, education, and energy.  These are well-intentioned systems that are locked in industrial era business models with no capacity to experiment with new models and cross-silo collaborations.

We need R&D platforms, which make it easier to combine and recombine capabilities across sectors, industries, and disciplines un-constrained by the current system.  We need to create safe and manageable environments for systems level experimentation.  BIF is creating a neutral platform for innovators from every imaginable silo to connect in a purposeful way.

BIF currently has two labs (Elder Experience LabStudent Experience Lab) with a 3rd on the drawing board to launch a Citizen Code Green Lab focused on energy systems innovation.

BIF Experience Labs share these core values:

Catalyze system change in health care, education, and energy.

Find the innovators and connect them in purposeful ways.

Design around the end user.

Gain deep and ongoing insight into the user experience

Enable random collisions among the unusual suspects.

Market making trumps share taking.  Think bigger.

Embrace design thinking, open innovation, and storytelling.

BIF Research Advisor, Roger Martin, says that the hallmark of innovators is that “they have a point of view to share but know they are missing something”.   We believe BIF is on to something with its passion for system level innovation.  We also know we are missing many somethings to achieve our goal of catalyzing system change in health care, education and energy.  It feels like an exciting period is unfolding.  BIF is proud to be part of a social innovation movement for ideas worth scaling.


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