Business Innovation Factory Welcomes Mickey Ackerman to Leadership Team

The Business Innovation Factory announced this week that industrial design guru Mickey Ackerman has signed on to oversee the next phase of development for BIF’s Experience Labs--BIF’s platform for conducting collaborative innovation projects that experiment with new ways to deliver value across traditional industry and organizational boundaries. Ackerman, a professor at the Rhode Island School of Design, has spent decades teaching designers how to define problems clearly and then solve those problems through multidisciplinary teamwork. During his 15 years as head of the RISD industrial design department, Ackerman established a portfolio of sponsored projects where students used their skills to create real-world design solutions for industry leaders such as Intel, Rubbermaid, Frigidaire and General Mills. During this same time, Ackerman established strategic partnerships between RISD and the Harvard Business School, MIT Sloan School of Management, MIT Age Lab and the Brown University School of Engineering. Ackerman also created partnerships with NASA, the NASA Center for Space Medicine at Yale University and Boston’s Center Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology. Applying this same skill set in a new way, Ackerman will work with the BIF team to strengthen the experience lab platform and enhance BIF’s strategy for managing a growing portfolio of collaborative innovation projects. In a first phase of activity—set to begin in March and conclude in October—Ackerman will update BIF’s vision for the experience lab platform and oversee all activities related to experience lab operations. This will include the physical and virtual framework of the labs, project design and management techniques, staffing and partner arrangements, business development process, project economics, and improved integration of experience lab projects with other BIF activities. Ackerman will also work with the BIF team to develop and launch the next set of projects to be run out of the experience labs. “It is exciting to transition from being a spectator to what BIF is doing to being an active participant in the organization’s evolution and success,” says Ackerman. “It is essential that business, academia and government get better at solving problems in a collaborative way. The BIF Experience Lab platform is a powerful mechanism for redefining concepts of collaboration, communication, creative thinking, and customer service and, most importantly, what it means to be a sustainable innovator.” The idea behind the BIF experience labs is simple: you can't innovate in a conference room. With its Experience Laboratories BIF has created a neutral platform where partners from across industries and disciplines can design and test innovation solutions and transfer what they learn back into their organizations. Through the Experience Labs, BIF manages Collaborative Innovation Projects that enable innovators to:
  • Test strategies to successfully design new business models
  • Prototype innovative approaches and provide proof-of-concept findings
  • Speed the larger scale roll-out of a new idea by understanding implementation realities.
  • Learn how others face the challenges of innovation and implementation.
  • Justify the return on innovation investment.
BIF currently runs four Experience Labs: Citizen, Patient, Student, and Consumer. Projects have included a pilot program to test how wireless solutions can be used to enhance public safety and education, a federally-funded project that transformed Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay into a test bed for integrated port security communication networks, and an exercise to re-envision the primary care system. BIF’s most recent project set out to re-design the hospital resuscitation or trauma "bay". This multi-disciplinary project team used a collaborative systems approach to develop models of the resuscitation bay's space, workflow, protocols and equipment. The team has taken what they learned in this initial phase of effort to create a full scale architectural and systematic model of what the trauma bay of the future might look like and is currently working with partners on a plan for next phase implementation of ideas developed during the project. “After completing an initial series of projects, we are a perfect place to evaluate what we have learned and set an ambitious vision for what comes next,” says BIF founder and chief catalyst Saul Kaplan. “Having Mickey Ackerman on board to oversee this important activity is central to fulfilling BIF’s mission to enable collaborative innovation across the public and private sectors. We are grateful to have Mickey—a person of incredible talent and experience--as a partner in our efforts to take the BIF Experience Lab to the next level.”

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