I love big ideas, remarkable ideas, ideas that can change the world.
In this post, I share a short list of big ideas that I’d like to research and perhaps pursue this year in partnership with like-minded individuals and organizations. (Is this Consulting 2.0?) These aren’t problems I’ll solve in 2007 (or even a lifetime), but are fascinating puzzles worth pursuing right now in theory and in practice. These are the big ideas worth watching, with big implications.
What’s on your list?
Economics of Abundance
As the cost of broadband connectivity and processing power tend towards free, and as economic value is increasingly exchanged in digital form, a new and little understood interplay between the economics of scarcity and the economics of abundance is unfolding. How do we start to think about a world of abundance and how does it relate to the still very real physical world of scarcity?
Consilience and the Medici Effect
Eminent scientist Edward O. Wilson, a 2007 TED Prize Winner for ideas with the potential to change the world, describes consilience as “the synthesis of knowledge from different specialized fields of human endeavour”. The work Wilson describes is that of reaching across domains of knowledge and expertise to stitch together a more robust and innovative body of human knowledge. It closely parallels Frans Johansson’s “intersections” from his Medici Effect, and points to a path of huge innovation potential.
Open Source, Open Innovation and Regional Innovation Systems:
Open source software provides a fascinating model that points to an alternative understanding of the economics of innovation. Open source inspired innovation models offer the opportunity to explore strategic options that include alternative conceptions of intellectual property, innovation and commercialization practices and economic development strategies. My operating thesis:
The global megalopolis that can integrate open innovation models into its economic structure and culture will, in aggregate, innovate faster and over time become more competitive in a post-industrial, post-information age global economy.
Emergence, Self-Organization and Networked Organizations
Emergence describes the development of complex systems from chaos. The laws of emergence as applied to evolutionary biology may have intriguing parallels in the social sciences, where economies, civil society movements and technology-driven social networks demonstrate emergent behaviour that mimics some of the characteristics of biological life.
How can human society reconfigure itself and its institutional and organizational structures to take advantage of the power of emergent behaviour? What basic social rules allow self-organization to thrive? How do organizations reconfigure themselves to understand and utilize these powerful natural forces?
Creativity and Place-making:
What makes for a creative place, what are its components and characteristics? How is creativity nurtured by and attracted to a sense of place? What makes creative industries thrive in particular places? How does culture and creativity offer a lever to transform communities and economies and sustain our quality of life? (My friends at Artscape have a lot of ideas.)