28 February 2012

Innovation Festivals: A Source of Ideas

Last weekend was the global service jam - billed as 48 hours to change the world. Teams from 40 countries created 350 new service ideas across the course of a weekend - all themed on Hidden Treasure. Its an interesting concept - 48 hours to form - first a team (bear in mind participants have not necessarily met before and therefore can hardly be called a team at the start) - and second a new service idea. And the idea has to be documented and demonstrated. What a great way of engaging people in innovation.

I saw a linked piece in the UK's Guardian travel supplement recently. This time focusing on the innovation festivals that are sprouting up all over the world. Clearly the best known innovation event is TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design), but TED has sprouted a load of local TEDx events (independently organised TED events). I liked the Guardian article because it introduced a range of other innovation festivals, including Wisdom 2.0 in California, South by South West in Austin Texas, The Do lectures in Wales, 99% Conference in New York, Future Everything in Manchester, Likeminds in Devon, Vivid Sydney in Australia, North by North East in Toronto Canada and the unsubtly named World Domination Summit in Portland.

Its fascinating that social media, coupled with networking events are bringing people together simply to enjoy one another's company as they create new service ideas. Where does that leave service deign in organisations? If you have armies of volunteers offering their time and thoughts freely to one another, how do organisations compete with the collective wisdom of the crowd? In fact one could ask whether organisations should compete - maybe the time for open service innovation is upon us.

Andy Neely

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