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I had the great pleasure of attending the first day of the BIF-5 Collaborative Innovation Summit, held in Providence, Rhode Island, by the Business Innovation Factory. That’s a lot of jargon for just the names of a conference and its sponsoring organization, but more to the point is the tag line for the event: “A good story can change the world.” Those are strong words, but, at its best, the packed Trinity Rep in Providence worked hard to live up to them.
I’m embarrassed that such a strong conference takes place almost in the backyard of MIT Sloan Management Review and I didn’t know about it until year five, but “BIF,” as the organizers call it, is full of ambition and purpose. Like similar conferences TED and PopTech, BIF offers what it hopes are world-changing ideas. But, unlike TED and PopTech, which celebrate a wide variety of disciplines and are as intent on entertaining as educating, BIF is all business.
It’s a wide definition of business knowledge. Last week in this spot, I mused on leadership lessons from unlikely places. BIF was all about inspiration from unlikely places, with reports from the frontlines of freelance diplomacy and someone whose job it is to figure out what would happen if a pirate fought a knight. But more than unexpected sources, BIF was about unexpected attitude. Late in the first day of the conference, Saul Kaplan, the event’s “founder and chief catalyst,” said “innovation requires a vulnerability most people are not comfortable with.” Like many good stories, the ones told on the stage of BIF were ones in which the principals revealed their vulnerabilities and then revealed what they learned from them.
The whole day was filmed. These talks will find their way onto the net and we’ll point to them. For now, here are a handful of the highlights from a long, deep day:
- The New York Times recently argued that the term “curator” is being overused, but Museum of Modern Arts senior curator Paola Antonelli made a compelling case for curating, in its widest sense, as the activity in which all knowledge workers will engage.