Innovation System-Driving Film-Making

After visiting the Karen Blixen museum and the Karen Blixen Coffee Garden, it became clear to me that the impact from the famous writer persists long after her death. The lush Nairobi suburb Karen is situated between the city centre and the mountains, and the views are stunning. No doubt, the film “Out of Africa” boosted the Karen economy, featuring one of my favourite actors Robert Redford.

When back at the Fairview Hotel at Upper Hill and swimming in the pool, I started to think about how making films can drive innovation. No doubt science fiction and Bond movies have expanded our technical ideas, and to some extent our management designs as well. However, I think that not only companies can benefit from collaborating with the film and fiction industry, but also regions. Whole innovations systems consisting of scientists, entrepreneurs and civil servants could team up with famous film makers in order to create the vivid images of the preferred future as encouraged by Peter Senge and Robert Fritz (the latter often using film as a metaphor for how to frame your message in an appropriate scope).

So how about Nairobi, a life science hub, hooking up with the Swedish Film Institute to make a movie about fictional Danish and Swedish descendants of Karen and Bror Blixen coming to Kenya to start a sustainable functional food business? Collaborating with local suppliers, researchers and incubators in all countries they could make good use of solar and wind power in order to breathe new life into the old Swedo African Coffee Company. Perhaps with a young American director, supported by Redford’s Sundance Institute.

Creating an image so real and attractive, it may have the chance of paving the way for investors and real entrepreneurs. Perhaps the company could even be in place before opening day, since it would be really cool if the film merchandise would include products from the new company. How about that for product placement?
"He prayeth well, who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast",

from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)


Heart of the Matter

When I was studying English at the university in 1984, one of the books we were required to read was “Heart of the Matter” by Graham Green. I’m not sure what it did to my perception of Africa, civil servants or marriage, but I believe that that course changed my life.
“No human being can really understand another,
and no one can arrange another's happiness.”

Graham Green, The Heart of the Matter
Although I already liked English, which of course was one of the reasons for enrolling in the course, I think this was the time when I really fell in love with the language. This is a love that has lasted longer than any other.
Which is why I now own books like “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” and enjoy comments regarding how expressions change through usage and how they become metaphors.
"Give me that man
That is not passion's slave, and I will wear him
In my heart's core, ay, in my heart of heart
As I do thee."
Hamlet Act 3, scene 2, 71-74

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Cruel to be Kind

“Sometimes you need to be kind to yourself”, said Stefan Einhorn at a seminar last week in reply to a questions concerning what to do when somebody asks you to do something you do not want to or have time for. “If you cannot deliver, you should say no because in the long run it is kinder.”

He should know because he has written an excellent book called “The Art of Being Kind”. Being a Professor of Molecular Oncology he has had plenty of opportunity to observe what it takes to be kind, both at work and at home. You actually often have to be both brave and smart to be kind. There is also much research that demonstrates that humans benefit from kindness and most of us want to be good.

There is a world-wide ongoing debate concerning if it is better to support entrepreneurs in struggling economies through companies like MyC4 where lenders get interest or through charities like Kiva. Most people seem to take the position that there is room for a variety of players and I totally agree with this. However, I also believe that we need to become better at offering true business deals.

When you do want to help charities, there are plenty of opportunities to do that in combination with business. The site God Handling (A Good Deed) offers an opportunity to purchase from web shops and at the same time make the companies pay charities. As a consumer you don’t pay any extra, but the company pays to get some more publicity.

If you are in doubt concerning what charity to choose, you might want to use Charity Rating. Here the charities have been categories in terms of what focus they have, what countries they cover, how transparent the information is and so on. So far only Swedish charities have been rated, but there are similar organisations like Charity Navigator in the US and Guide Star in the UK.

Should you want to experience a really weird mix of kindness and cruelty, I recommend taking a look at The Cruel Game, and become a benevolent assassin.

“Will innocents be caught in the cross-fire?
Oh, yes.
But when your secret weapon is a random act
of kindness, it’s only cruel to be kind
to other players...”

Maybe Hamlet got it right in the end…