Ideas. Cities. Social Innovation.

I like that phrase - an economy that is organic and sustainable:

What most economists haven’t yet grasped is that that the economy is not in a recovery. It is in a great economic Phase Change.

We have, as Joseph Stiglitz has written, misunderstood our situation. We are not as well off as we thought we were. The economic pain that we feel is the pain of a great economic Phase Change.

Just as the phase change in the Great Depression was a transition from agriculture to manufacturing, so the economic pain we are feeling is a transition out of the industrial economy.

So if not from brainstorming, where do good ideas come from?

At Continuum, we use deliberative discourse—or what we fondly call “Argue. Discuss. Argue. Discuss.” Deliberative discourse was originally articulated in Aristotle’s Rhetoric. It refers to participative and collaborative (but not critique-free) communication. Multiple positions and views are expressed with a shared understanding that everyone is focused on a common goal. There is no hierarchy. It’s not debate because there are no opposing sides trying to “win.” Rather, it’s about working together to solve a problem and create new ideas. 

Social media have only made that problem more acute. While blogging, Twitter and Facebook have brought new opportunities for conversation, knowledge gathering and relationship building, those opportunities may feel more daunting than dazzling to overloaded executives.

The solution is to stop looking at social media as another platform you have to learn—yet another responsibility—and start seeing it for what it can be instead: a personal toolbox for improving your practice of leadership.

There is considerable buzz in the United States about whether a new “pay for success” model of financing social solutions currently being piloted across the Atlantic could work on American soil. It’s called a social impact bond (SIB), and the first—in fact, the only so far—was launched in September 2010 by an organization called Social Finance UK. SIBs are structured to get proven solutions to scale with no risk to public budgets—governments pay for the solutions only if they work. But despite this risk shifting, a SIB’s structure involves several actors—each charging a fee or return. As a result, this tool is a more expensive way to scale programs than if government simply contracted directly with a service provider. These additional costs will be worth it in many cases, but SIBs won’t be suited to every situation.

The point Billy raised regarding the fleeting value of experience is also important to consider. As the world becomes more and more aware of a trick or a skill, the value of that experience begins to decay. If word travels fast, the value of the skill diminishes quickly. Best practice becomes table stakes to stay-afloat, but not to get ahead. We see examples of this every day with Facebook application user acquisition techniques. Companies find a seam or arbitrage that creates a small window of opportunity in the market, but quickly others mimic the same technique and the advantage proves fleeting.

Great initiative. I think this will become a necessity in competitive, innovative cities very soon.

"For many companies coming here, the office is no longer the traditional place where people do business," said John Hartnett, chairman of the Irish Innovation Center in downtown San Jose. "It’s in cafes and out in the street. So this is a great step forward and will be very well-received."

This is great. I can’t wait for the book:

But creativity is not magic, and there’s no such thing as a creative type. Creativity is not a trait that we inherit in our genes or a blessing bestowed by the angels. It’s a skill. Anyone can learn to be creative and to get better at it. New research is shedding light on what allows people to develop world-changing products and to solve the toughest problems. A surprisingly concrete set of lessons has emerged about what creativity is and how to spark it in ourselves and our work.

Innovation was measured based on the amount of wireless hot spots and universities per 10,000 residents; sustainability was ranked on the miles of bike lanes and paths, as well as percent of hybrid cars; vibrancy was measured based on the amount of park acres and arts-related jobs and business; efficiency rankings were based on the number of workers using public transportation and public transportation trips as a percent of the area’s population; and livability was measured based on unemployment, violent crime rates, and property crime rates.

Given the growing importance cities and regions will play in the next economy, there are three ways Michigan’s state leaders can support the growth of these communities: 1) strengthen the link between innovation and manufacturing to increase regional exports and attract global investments; 2) support strong regional systems to train workers and 3) make targeted investments that leverage distinct assets in urban and metropolitan areas.

Rana Florida interviews Zappo’s CEO Tony Hsieh:

Rather than work/life balance or work/life separation, we focus more on work/life integration. That’s why we encourage employees to be their true selves when they come to the office. This way, they end up forming real friendships, not just co-worker relationships.