Business Innovation for Sustainable Growth

True friends open doors for you so you can enter new worlds. One such good friend is Kristofer Erlandsson from Processim. After an excellent Rotary lunch where Jonas Hallberg did a thought-provoking and funny presentation on rhetoric, he introduced me to the Globe Forum Business Network. In addition to the network and all the material published, conferences are organised around the globe. Make sure you are in Stockholm May 7-8 for the conference “Business Innovation for Sustainable Growth”. Of course, Stockholm in May is a treat in itself.

Göteborg also has its attractions. Last week I was invited to a house-warming party at the newly launched unit for Sustainable Business Development at Chalmers University of Technology. In addition to talking to all the guests I had the honour of being the photographer, my first official photo assignment!
If you are interested in sustainable development and innovation, there are several excellent communities and information sources you can rely on. One of them is World Changing, an online journal with reports from all over the world trying to connect the dots. Another great source of information is the UK-based think tank Demos, who recently launched their new “Atlas of Ideas 2.0” project covering innovation in Asia, the Islamic world and Brazil. Also there is always TED with inspired talks by the world's greatest thinkers and doers.

Do you know of any other great sources? Please, make a comment tell us!


Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own

Last night I went to the IMAX Cinema in London to watch the U23D film. It was quite amazing! I’m not in the habit of going to concerts but this has to be the next best thing, or even better since you get a much better view of the band. Make sure you don’t leave too early, because the graphics at the end are also worth looking at while appreciating all the people involved making the film. Many great U2 songs are included such as Vertigo, Where the Streets Have No Name, With or Without You and many more.

Before it started, we were told to put on our big funny glasses and turn off our mobile phones. We were also informed that taking pictures were not allowed. However, in the film during one of the ballads, Bono encourages the audience to use their mobile phones as “lighters” and during the whole concert the panoramic camera flows through heaps of youngsters recording their experience on camera and sharing it with friends. Hmm. There seems to be a clash of perception of how money is made here.

I’m in a discussion right now with some friends regarding pricing an educational dvd we have produced. Although it will be filled with lots of interesting videos and texts, I think it will be difficult to get people to pay that much for it. Instead I view it as marketing material, and that earnings will come from conferences, subscriptions and advertising. But it’s hard to think that way when you put a lot of work into your production.

The Horizon Report from The New Media Consortium talks about trends in use of technology in education. One of their observations is that “grass root video” is catching on. Since it is so inexpensive to make a video and put it on the Internet and young people often prefer looking at a video instead of reading a thick book, this will probably have an impact on teaching. If your students can choose between listening to you doing a live lecture or look at videos from all over the world, perhaps including several of the top researchers/teachers in the world, you are up for some competition! However, turning teachers into video stars might have the positive effect that more young people might become interested in a career in education…


Welcome to Metafari Fraser Island August 2008

What can at the same time be a market place, a factory, an oasis and a temple? According to the Swedish Professor Svante Beckman, these are four metaphors for an academic university. In a debate about how the university should work together with the rest of society, these different perceptions lead to very different reasoning about why such collaboration would be of interest, who it should involve, how it should be conducted and so on. For the researcher viewing the university as a peaceful oasis where he or she can fulfil his or her life project, the idea of inviting people in from other organisations might not be so attractive. However, for those who view the university as an arena for education and career, the notion of boundless collaboration is perfectly natural.

Metaphors are extremely powerful tools for communication. The American cognitive activist George Lakoff has even made a conceptual metaphor database. He is especially interested in educating the progressives in the US in how to use storytelling and metaphors in order to get messages through and create a picture of the future. With books such as “Whose Freedom?”, “Don’t Talk About an Elephant – Know Your Values, Frame the Debate” and “Metaphors We Live By” he has provided a lot of food for thought that are very useful in these times of elections.

Last November we organised a Metaphor Safari – Metafari to Tanga in Tanzania. Liz Mellish in Australia became very interested in the concept, why we decided to expand it to include a trip to Fraser Island in August 2008. If you want to learn more about metaphors, storytelling, Appreciative Inquiry, digital photography and sustainable development while at the same time exploring the world’s largest sand island which is also on the UNESCO world heritage list, then this interactive "course" is a great opportunity. Read more about it in our tentative brochure.

Interested? Or know someone who might be interested? Please spread the word and let this become another international networking opportunity!

Do you know of any other places suitable for a Metafari? Write a comment and let us know!


Research for Action

Imagine that you work as a nurse or a doctor at a hospital. Imagine that you have done a very successful AI workshop involving personnel, management, patients, family, suppliers, researchers and others. Imagine that you developed the following provocative statements and took departure in that when developing the organisation even further but also when going to work everyday:
  • “Nursing care is an art at its very best. What we do with our minds, hearts and hands is truly beautiful. We paint with brush strokes of compassion, weave tapestries of comfort and sculpt an environment of caring beyond technology for our patients, their families and often for one another. At UK – this is the art of nursing.”

  • “Nursing, the common thread that unites a patchwork of disciplines into a quilt of teamwork.”
The provocative statements quoted above is from a presentation describing the AI work done at the University of Kentucky Hospital in the US. They are my favourite examples of provocative statements because they are so poetic and yet they are very concrete.

I used these statements as inspiration when writing a text on how to use Appreciative Inquiry in research on IT in healthcare. Professor Jan Read, Dr Agneta Nilsson and I have put together a chapter intended for a book called “Handbook of Research on Information Technology Management and Clinical Data Administration in Healthcare”. Since we wanted to emphasise how AI can lead to change in many ways, we called the chapter “Appreciative Inquiry: Research for Action”. It will be very interesting to see how many will heed the call!

Do you know of any research related to Appreciative Inquiry and IT or healthcare? Please write a comment and let us know!

The photo was taken in Sälen in February 2008.