Archive for June, 2009

how does the new come into the system?

Sunday, June 21st, 2009 | Uncategorized | 23 Comments

the past few days i had three interesting experiences that all struck the same chord:

first, at the MIT Green Hub, we convened a roundtable conversation on transforming capitalism that included some of the foremost pioneers in social-environmental based banking. then i worked with the Minister of Education and her transformation team in an EU country. then i had a review session with a senior learning and change leader of a major global company in the car industry. three sessions, three systems, one theme: in all these cases we had plenty of great pioneers that had created really good living examples on the ground that demonstrated real innovations in leading, lending, and learning. yet, in all these cases these small scale innovations did not “go viral” to “infect” the entire system. on the contrary, the larger system, in all these cases, in spite of being challenged through new environments, happened to “strike back” by some version of immune system reaction aiming at limiting or killing the new.

So the new is already there. in small living examples. and so is a new set of challenges that would require the new to go viral, to be scaled. but that’s not what’s happening (at least not at the speed required). so how does the new become more relevant to the system? how does it enter and change the entire ecosystem at issue?

have you seen examples where small local innovations went viral and changed the old DNA and culture of a larger system? what have you learned from these examples?

–otto