The Future of Innovation Summit

How can big data & behavioral economics be used for system transformation in scaled, complex & distributed challenges?
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The FUTURE OF INNOVATION SUMMIT is an annual event where globally recognized leaders of innovation come together for three days to discuss and shape the future of innovation. Stanford has been hosting the event for a number of years, but the first Summit championed by multiple organizations was held in 2012 and led to the creation of the Future of Innovation Summit as a global annual event. It is considered to be one of the most leveraged gatherings of innovative minds, and it has served to advance the cutting edge of innovation thinking.

In 2015, we launched a book generated from previous Summits titled Creating Innovation Leaders: A Global Perspective.  This book explores innovation generally, the innovation ecosystem, and the changes academic institutions will need to make to prepare future innovation leaders.

Responding to a Crisis

We are surrounded by challenges that require system-wide transformation at scale and that are geographically and socially distributed. Some of these challenges are at a global level, others affect a continent or a population or a nation. We try many interventions. Some bring improvements; others make no change while others exacerbate the challenge. There is a theoretical gap in scalable, integrated solutions and interventions that are (a) actionable (b) cross the diversity of contexts and desired outcomes and (c) make an impact at scale. There is a need for an advanced innovation methodology as well as a set of “models” that can bridge the current constraints. Traditional approaches exhibit key structural limitations:

  • Focus on a single problem at a time overlooking the possibility that these are outcomes of interconnected systems
  • Optimise short-term solutions but few solutions for long-term resilient and sustainable futures
  • Often result in under-commitment, decision gridlock, and action that is often “too little, too late”
  • Unable to escape the paradigms that cause the problem in the first place
  • Do not work to add value to all fractal levels including the individual, the community, and the greater society
  • Tend to take a disciplinary lens in challenges that cross disciplinary boundaries
  • Tend to solve solutions from a supply side but not the demand side
  • Tend not to identify emerging social, economic or environmental issues and do not anticipate emergent issues.  Therefore challenges are addressed reactively when urgency is high rather than when there is time to develop resilient and sustainable solutions
  • Tend to work with limited understanding and engagement with the people who might be affected by the interventions

Advancing Innovation

Innovation is being recognized as being a crucial component to define the capabilities to survive and succeed in the face of dynamic and complex futures, but it implies a significant change in mindset. As businesses, universities, governments, and NGO’s grapple with questions requiring system-wide transformation, there is a widespread increase in the emphasis on innovation methodology, alternative models of leadership, creating cultures of innovation, and the ability to catalyze transformations. Innovation is emerging as the next form of leadership as well as a core determinant of organizational success.  As innovation methodologies advance from bounded problems to unbounded, complex and scaled challenges, it creates two key opportunities – to advance the methodologies to meet this shifting frontier and to create a way to influence adoption of the appropriate methodologies at every level across contexts and sectors.

Future of Innovation 2015

The Future of Innovation Summit 2015 takes on a new theme. It will bring together two fields of high current interest, big data and behavioral economics, and explore how these might combine and be applied to system-wide transformation in scaled and distributed challenges. The 2015 Summit might explore the application of big data and behavioral economics in the contexts of challenges such as:

  • Changing demand for energy and water in rural towns and farms in Australia while maintaining the environment
  • Creating distributed employment and financial access in sub-Saharan Africa
  • Reducing carbon emissions, enhancing food security and strengthening water security
  • Enabling governments to reduce costs while improving performance
  • Enhancing services to those who typically are underserved because they are distributed geographically, socially, or economically 
  • Enabling next generation economies that are more environmentally sustainable

Outcomes of the 2015 Summit

A key feature of past Future of Innovation Summits has been a focus on outcomes generated from the Summit. This year we hope to produce:

  • A point of view to share with governments and foundations.
  • A set of white papers that capture the findings generally and as they relate to specific challenges.
  • New projects and initiatives identified at the Summit to progress with funding and program partners to effect real change
  • The design of platform architectures that could be proposed as archetypes
  • A set of principles, approaches, and examples for the use of big data and behavioral economics in complex challenges
  • A video recorded talk on this topic or a set of videos that can be disseminated virally
  • A new philosophy and approach to trans-disciplinary innovation for complex challenges

In addition, we will create a community around innovation of complex scaled systems, new knowledge that can be applied in our respective fields, new partnerships, and new insights for future exploration.

Other initiatives

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