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Inside the Mind of Creative Genius Richard Saul Wurman

Andrea Meyer Speaks on the Power of #RCUS

The storytellers, even luminaries, don’t disappear immediately after leaving the stage. They stay and chat with participants. They listen to the other storytellers and engage in real conversations. – Andrea Meyer

“We want our Collaborative Innovation Summit filled from stage to seats with people sharing transformation ideas and stories,” says BIF Creative Catalyst Saul Kaplan.

After all, it was out of the Summit that the hashtag #RCUS was coined — Random Collisions of Unusual Suspects. And from now until the Summit takes place in September, we’ll run a series of short interviews with former Summit attendees who’ll tell us in their own words why the BIF Summit is a must-go event and how #RCUS has changed their lives. Next up, long-time friend-of-BIF Andrea Meyer, who is president and founder of Working Knowledge, a well-known innovation tweeter at @AndreaMeyer, and co-author of Present Yourself: Using SlideShare to Grow Your Business.

Here’s her answer to the question: Why go to the BIF summit?

What I like most about BIF Summits are the interactions. At other conferences, luminaries such as BIF storytellers Dan Pink, Clay Christensen, and John Hagel appear only on stage. But at the BIF Summit, the storytellers, even luminaries, don’t disappear immediately after leaving the stage. They stay and chat with participants. They listen to the other storytellers and engage in real conversations. 

I also like the format of BIF, in which storytellers, not speakers, tell stories, not canned speeches. BIF’s founder, Saul Kaplan, encourages storytellers to tell personal stories, and he himself models the thoughtful authenticity that characterizes all of BIF.  He shares his insights, passions, frustrations, hopes — not just bullet points — and so do the storytellers. If there’s a phrase that encapsulates the BIF community, I’d say it’s “smart with heart.”

Many innovators face stiff organizational resistance when they try to offer a new way of doing things. It’s a lonely battle trying to lead change and get others on board. At the BIF Summit, however, innovators find like-minded others. Everyone “gets it” and people support each other. Such encouragement is tremendously uplifting, and it extends after the Summit ends because people remain friends, stay in touch, and indeed often return to BIF to see each other year after year. The fact that storytellers themselves also return to BIF proves that they, too, value the atmosphere.

I attended my first BIF on the recommendation of a friend, and I have returned four times now. Most of the time, I go to experience the serendipity of the “random collisions.”  One time, however, I went with a specific purpose:  To speak with some of the storytellers and attendees to get their input on a book I was coauthoring, called Present Yourself.  At BIF8, storytellers Alex Osterwalder, David Macaulay, and Felice Frankl all offered insights and quotes on visual thinking for my book, and attendee Dean Meyers became one of the case studies we used.

Whether you go with a purpose or go for the RCUS, I encourage you to go!

Nicole Radziwill Speaks on the Power of RCUS

The storytellers will make your heart sing…and make you cry. You will make friends, you will develop new contacts, and you might even embark upon a journey that takes you places you never could have imagined. – Nicole Radziwill

We want our Collaborative Innovation Summit filled from stage to seats with people sharing transformation ideas and stories,” says BIF Creative Catalyst Saul Kaplan.

After all, it was out of the Summit that the hashtag #RCUS was coined — Random Collisions of Unusual Suspects. And from now until the Summit takes place in September, we’ll run a series of short interviews with former Summit attendees who’ll tell us in their own words why the BIF Summit is a must-go event and how #RCUS has changed their lives. Next up, Nicole Radziwill, Assistant Professor of Integrated Science & Technology at James Madison University, finishes the RCUS story series with an epic tale of serendipitous connection.

Here’s her answer to the question, Why got to the BIF Summit?

What I like most about the BIF summits is that they are magical. The storytellers will make your heart sing…and make you cry. You will make friends, you will develop new contacts, and you might even embark upon a journey that takes you places you never could have imagined. My long and meandering tale aims to share some of this magic with you — and I truly believe it’s only beginning.

A BIF RCUS story always starts with a “Patient Zero” — and the person who started the cascading ripple of an impact that’s changed the direction of my life to date is BIF8 storyteller, Valdis Krebs.

I can’t even remember how I met Valdis, but I know it was online and most likely in early 2008. I was a Ph.D. student working on my dissertation, using the methods of network analysis to develop a metric that would assess whether the quality of an academic journal was improving — or not. Valdis is an expert in network analysis, and I was honored to receive his guidance and develop a friendship. After he participated as a BIF8 storyteller he was bubbling about his experience!

“You’ve got to go!!” he told me. “You would fit right in. These people are all highly engaged, interesting, down-to-earth innovators and they’re all doing something different. You should plan to go this year. Really.”

Valdis is an expert matchmaker in his social and professional network. He’s one of those people that you really should listen to when he makes a comment like that. I didn’t make it to BIF8, but I was definitely intrigued, so I watched some of the videos online. I started to get that effervescent feeling of excitement that comes when stories spark subtle and profound insights that pervade your entire being.

Then, in November 2012, I got a message from BIF’s Chief Catalyst Saul Kaplan — who wanted to chat about my views and experiences in relating quality to disruptive innovation and business model innovation. We didn’t have an agenda when we talked, but he was just such an inspirer that I knew at the end of our conversation — I needed to put BIF9 on my agenda for September of 2013. And I did.

And that’s when the real RCUS began — the magical, serendipitous chain of BIF Summit-enabled collisions that’s connected me with my tribe of free-spirit innovators.

In March 2013, my partner Morgan and I presented a workshop at the headquarters of the Burning Man Project in San Francisco. We shared insights and techniques for how to bring the spirit and principles of the annual Burning Man event in Nevada into higher education. After the talk, James Hanusa and Heather White from the Burning Man Project introduced us to Evonne Heyning, who was working on a startup in Los Angeles to help people better personalize and manage their learning paths. They also told us that we really needed to meet Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, who was experimenting with new models for education and engagement in his Downtown Project in Las Vegas. (But how would we ever meet Tony? I had no idea. It seemed completely impossible.)

In May 2013, I told Valdis this was my year. I was going to BIF9. Would he be there? If not, did he know of anyone I should meet? He told me not to worry — I’d meet exactly who I needed to meet. Later, in August, Morgan and I spent the week at Burning Man in a camp organized by Evonne Heyning.

BIF9 was just three weeks after Burning Man. I was convinced that nothing could compare to the intellectual transformation I’d experienced out on the playa — that there could never be a group of people so engaged, so stimulating, so full of the desire to reshape our world through new models for business, and education, and inter-being. But I was wrong!

That’s what I found out when Peter Hirshberg got on the BIF9 stage to share his visions for the new cities of the future, the kinds of models that were paraded proudly at World’s Fair events in the past. As a key example, he provided Black Rock City, the temporary city created by Burning Man participants every year! He had been camped close to us on the playa just a couple of weeks earlier — and so had BIF9 storyteller Ping Fu, the advisor to Marc Andreessen and leader of an inspiring 3D printing company!

As I stumbled through the Trinity Rep Theater into the next BIF9 coffee break, in a daze of excitement to be around such intriguing and passionate people, I overheard the guy next to me say to his friend, “Wait for me, I just want to say something to Tony Hsieh really quickly.” I looked to my left, where Tony stood only five feet away.

Of course, I took the opportunity to say hi. I told him that James and Heather from the Burning Man Project had encouraged me to meet up with him to find out more about the Downtown Project. “Oh, that’s great!” he said. “Talk to Amanda Slavin over here, and tell her to get you signed up for Catalyst Week in March. We’re having a lot of the Burning Man Project people visit then.” Catalyst Week was another amazing experience — and we got to spend even more time with Peter Hirshberg, the speaker we had also met at BIF9.

But the serendipitous connections didn’t stop there. At Catalyst Week, we spent time with Duleesha Kulisooriya, who is Head of Strategy and Research for the Deloitte Center for the Edge. He works with and co-authors books with John Hagel, a BIF7 and BIF10 storyteller, so we’re very excited to spend some time with John soon. Turns out, John is also friends with our Burning Man camp coordinator, Evonne Heyning — and we camped with Duleesha at Burning Man just a couple of weeks ago!

The storytellers are not the only amazing people you’ll meet at BIF — the attendees are also top-notch. One of my favorite connections from BIF9 is Matt Murrie, the guru of the “What If?” conferences. (Everyone should follow him on Twitter at @MattMurrie — his feed is fun and inspiring.)  Matt also connected me with Steve Cooperman, whose Black Mountain SOLE project seeks to create alternative educational environments. All of us who are interested in reinventing the experience of higher education is really starting to come together for beautiful discussions. I can’t wait to see what new models come out of it.

The RCUS at the BIF Summit catalyzes so many ripples of impact! Morgan and I are so excited that BIF10 is coming up in just 8 days. We can’t wait for the next batch of random collisions…or to see what they stir up throughout the rest of the year to come.

BIF Announces With GoLocal Live: #BIF2017 Summit Storyteller Series

The Business Innovation Factory (BIF), in collaboration with GoLocal, announces a media partnership for #BIF2017, BIF’s Annual Collaborative Innovation Summit held in Providence, RI this September 13-14 at Trinity Repertory Company, including a six week #BIF2017 Summit Storyteller Series on GoLocal Live featuring interviews with inspiring #BIF2017 storytellers leading up to GoLocal broadcasting live, for the first time ever, from #BIF2017 at Trinity Rep Theatre on September 13-14, 2017.  

BIF and GoLocalLive will debut the six-week #BIF2017 Summit Storyteller Series starting this Friday, August 4, 2017, leading off with the co-founder of Fast Company, Alan Webber. Now in its’ 13th year, #BIF2017, like previous summits before it, has attracted high-profile storytellers from across the country, including this year Walt Mossberg, veteran tech journalist from the Wall Street Journal; Carmen Medina, former Deputy Director of Intelligence at the CIA , and Richard Saul Wurman, design icon and creator of the TED Conference.

“We’re thrilled to have GoLocal as a #BIF2017 Media Partner and to debut the #BIF2017 Summit Storyteller Series on GoLocal Live this week” Saul Kaplan,  Founder and Chief Catalyst of BIF explains. “The BIF Summit enables 500+ innovation junkies from around the world, and many more connected online, to learn from inspiring storytellers who share genuine stories about their personal transformation journey. #BIF2017 enables participants to engage in stories of transformation, connecting with each other to accelerate our own transformation journeys and to make a difference in the world.  At BIF, we believe that in order to transform our most vital community systems in education, healthcare, and government, we need to make our self-organized networks more purposeful .”

At #BIF2017 on September 13-14 GoLocal will simultaneously live stream the entire Summit, all 32 stories over 2 days, as well as featuring GoLocal Live interviews during the summit intermissions and breaks. “We’ve been broadcasting with Saul for a series we’ve dubbed Mr. Innovation, airing every Monday afternoon, so the partnership with BIF seemed like a natural fit. We’re excited to try something new and bring the greater stories of transformation to our incredible viewers,” Josh Fenton, CEO, and co-founder of GoLocal explains.

Why attend? #BIF2017 experience is designed for inspired learning. It takes place in a theater, not a hotel or conference center. There’s only one track, so everyone shares a common experience. Attendees expand their networks with both storytellers and attendees during our long breaks, meals, and reception with over 80 percent of attendees being thought leaders, CEOs, Presidents, or Senior Leaders in their field. Tickets for #BIF2017 are on sale now.  Register today and be ready to leave feeling inspired.

#BIF2018 Attendee List Copy

Name: Title: Org: Twitter: LinkedIn:
Octavia Abell CEO Govern for America @GovForAmerica
Mickey Ackerman Professor Rhode Island School of Design
Vala Afshar Chief Digital Evangelist Salesforce
Lee Allentuck Founder Self-Employed @raisingnerd
Dave Allison General Manager Customer Support
Scott Andersen General Manager – Technology Business Development
Shirin Ardakani Senior Experience Designer TeamBIF @TheBIF LinkedIn
Elizabeth Austin Student Brown University LinkedIn
JW Babbitt Chief Fun Officer YouTern @mjwbabbitt
Mark S. Babbitt President WorqIQ @marksbabbitt LinkedIn
Mike Baldwin Market Access Manager Boehrunger-Ingelheim
Vlad Barbulica Student
Alayne Barnicoat
Elena Bell Program Manager Center for Urban Innovation, The Aspen Institute @aspenurbaninnov LinkedIn
TImothy Berendt Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
John Bitar Avid Learner Brown University LinkedIn
Sue Bohorquez Sr. Graphic Designer RI Department of State LinkedIn
Susan Bos Performance Excellence Manager Kalamazoo Community Foundation
Sara Brandon Marketing Communications Care New England
Jessica Brown Student Experience Lab Manager TeamBIF @bifsxl LinkedIn
Collin Bunch Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builder REDI @Collin_Bunch LinkedIn
Elyse Burden CEO Real World Scholars
Tamara Burman HBC Activator NeighborWorks BRV
Chris Camillo
David Caprio President/CEO Children’s Friend
Kendra Chaikind Communications Manager Center for Care Innovations
Paul Charney CEO Funworks @howfunworks LinkedIn
Laura Coleman President Bay de Noc Community College
Sandi Connors United Way of Rhode Island @SandiConnors LinkedIn
Michael Crawford Director of Strategy and Partnerships Real World Scholars
Brian Darrow Brian Darrow RIDE
Dany DeGrave Sr Dir Innovation Programs & External Networks Sanofi @danydegrave
DK Creative Producer / Speaker Coach / Speaker @justadandak LinkedIn
Gregory Downing Founder Innovation Horizons LLC
Tori Drew Chief Operating Officer TeamBIF @toridrew LinkedIn
Eric DuBois Undergraduate – Biomedical Engineering Brown University LinkedIn
Melissa Duffield Editor O’Reilly Media Inc.
Wafaa Elghoroury Director Sphinx Academy
Josie Elias Program Manager, Digital Health Innovation Brigham and Women’s Digital Health Innovation Hub @josieelias LinkedIn
Jeffrey Eyet Cofounder The Berkeley Innovation Group @biginnovates
Rick Fernandes Executive Director Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media @FredRogersCtr
Dan Festa Director, Innovation + Design ShurTech Brands LinkedIn
Jillian Finkle Principal Planner City of Central Falls, RI @JillianFinkle
Charlotte Fixler Director of Communications Curriculum Associates @charlottefixler
Sarah Folger Experience Designer TeamBIF @folgersarah LinkedIn
Jonathon Follet President GoInvo
Jonathan Follett Principal GoInvo @jonfollett
Erica Fortescue Head of Co-Lab and Creativity Architect Funworks @ericafortescue LinkedIn
Stephanie Fortunato Director City of Providence Department of Art, Culture + Tourism
Matthew Fritz Founder Advanced Vectors
Monique Fuchs Associate VP, Innovation + Entrepreneurship Wentworth Institute of Technology @monique_fuchs
Gregg Garrett CEO & Managing Director CGS Advisors / Connected Detroit Innovates @GreggoryGarrett LinkedIn
Jim Gaskell Director – Technology Business Development Crown Equipment
Paul George Assistant Dean for Medical Education The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University @drpaulgeorge
Dara Goldberg President/Founder Mindsets Consulting, Inc.
Mitch Goldman Project Director Austin Regional Clinic
Nate Goodman Exploring Cognitive Neuroscience, Computer Science, and Applied Math Brown University LinkedIn
Manny Gorotiza Student
Dave Gray Founder and CEO The School of the Possible
Jared Green General Manager – Technology Business Development
Kate Grimes VP, Human Resources, NA Henry Schein Inc.
Victoria Guck Finance & Operations TeamBIF @vguck LinkedIn
Dustin Haisler Chief Innovation Officer e.Republic
Carol Hall Walker Associate Director Rhode Island Department of Health
Adam Hansen VP Innovation Ideas To Go, Inc.
Lynn Harris Founder and CEO GOLD Comedy @goldcmdy/@harrislynn LinkedIn
Kayt Havens MD Design Lead, VA national for Innovators Network VA
Reid Henkel Senior Experience Designer TeamBIF @henkr414 LinkedIn
Suzanne Herzberg Director of Transformation Brown Primary Care Transformation Initiative LinkedIn
Paul Higgins Emergent Futures Pty Ltd
Paige Hoffman Director of Innovation DC Public Schools
Hope Hopkins VP, Business Development Rhode Island Commerce Corporation
Carlon Howard Executive Director Breakthrough Providence @CarlonDHoward LinkedIn
Cathryn Hrudicka Principal Creative Sage and Woman Who Innovate
Amy Jackson Director BWH
Caroline Joaquin Department Manager University of Michigan
Delanoe Johnson Reimagine Learning, Associate New Profit @Reimaginelearn LinkedIn
Will Kammerer Patient Experience Lab Manager TeamBIF @bifpxl LinkedIn
Saul Kaplan Founder and Chief Catalyst TeamBIF @skap5 LinkedIn
Susan Kaplan
Ann Keehn Director John Snow, Inc.
Lois Kelly Rebel at Work @LoisKelly LinkedIn
Phil Komarny VP, Innovation @PhilKomarny LinkedIn
Stefan Korfmacher Student
Sam Kowalczyk Digital Media Generalist TeamBIF @skowalz LinkedIn
Irwin Kula President The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership
Mark Kvach Senior Graphic Designer ShurTech Brands, LLC
Zlatko Lagumdzija Student Brown University
Stephanie Lanoue Talent Manager TeamBIF @TheBIF LinkedIn
Nariné Lemme Director of Provider and Employer Analytics Harvard Pilgrim Health Care LinkedIn
Lindsey Lerner Founder Level Exchange LinkedIn
Dale Lesh
Courtney Lester Regional Program Manager
Bruce Linton Executive Director ingenuityNE
Alexander Liu VP, RI Innovation Center First Data
Ashley Luke Product Manager, Duck Tape ShurTech Brands
Elizabeth MacGowan VP Strategy & Business Development National Life Group
Eli MacLaren Chief Market Maker TeamBIF @elithechef LinkedIn
Mary Madden Conversion Institute Facilitator Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities
Samanee Mahbub Student Brown University @samaneezm1 LinkedIn
Avishai Mallinger General Manager Pilotworks Providence
Megha Malpani Student
Elizabeth Markle Executive Director Open Source Wellness LinkedIn
Jack Martin Executive Director Providence Public Library
Jake Martin Student
Pat Mastors Executive Director Patients’ View Institute @patientvoices/@patmastors LinkedIn
Molly Mazzaferro Director, Innovation Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts @mols710 LinkedIn
Heidi McAra Executive Director 100K Ideas
Jennifer McCann Director, US Coastal Programs URI Coastal Resources Center
Dan McClure Innovation Choreographer Practical Clarity, LLC @mccluredc LinkedIn
Phillip McCreight Founder Beer and Napkins @PhilMcCreight
Tim McDonald Purveyor of Purpose CreatingIs LLC
Emily McGinnis Citizen Experience Lab Manager TeamBIF @bifcxl LinkedIn
Carmen Medina Rebel at Work @milouness LinkedIn
Ellen Mendlow Consultant Creative Collisions Design
Dez Stone Menendez Director of Innovation The Colorado College
James Merenda Administrative Assistant
Chris Meyer CEO Nerve LLC
Deb Mills-Scofield CEO/Founder & Mentoring Maven Mills Scofield, LLC
Ethan Mok Neuroengineering Researcher Brown University
Matt Murrie Chief Curiosity Curator What If…?360
Matthew Murrie Chief Learning Executive Belouga @MattMurrie LinkedIn
Samantha Noonan Student
Lauren Norton Innovation Coordinator DC Public Schools @dcpslab
David Ollila President and Chief Innovation Officer Skypoint Ventures @SkypointFlint LinkedIn
Marcy Ostberg Housing Innovation Lab Director City of Boston @HousingiLab LinkedIn
Liz Ouk Office Coordinator TeamBIF @TheBIF LinkedIn
Constance Parham Innovation Specialist DC Public Schools @constance_belle
Purvi Patel Coordinator, Innovation and School Design DC Public Schools
Bill Paukert Owner, designer, builder, player Unified Guitar Works @unifiedguitars LinkedIn
Julian Paukert Student Francis J. Varieur Elementary
Kyra Perry Architecture Student Brown University LinkedIn
Daniel Phelan President / CEO Jackson College @dphelan59
John Politi Executive Director Alliance for Transformation and Innovation (AFIT)
Due Quach CEO & Founder Calm Clarity and the Collective Success Network @calmclarityorg LinkedIn
Joanne Quinn Executive Director The Autism Project @AutismProjectRI LinkedIn
Julia Rafal-Baer Chief Operating Officer Chiefs for Change
Megan Ranney Director of Special Projects & Emergency Digital Health Innovation Department of Emergency Medicine, Brown University
Neil Redding Principal, Redding Consulting @neilredding LinkedIn
Christopher Rice Principal Consultant Christopher S. Rice Consulting
gg Rigelhaupt designer, researcher, investigator, advocate @ggrig LinkedIn
Elizabeth Rodgers Marketing Manager TeamBIF @TheBIF LinkedIn
Kristin Rodriguez Chief Knowledge Officer Health Plan Alliance
Crystal Rome Senior Experience Designer TeamBIF @cromebot LinkedIn
Kayla Rosen Policy Director Rhode Island Children’s Cabinet – State of Rhode Island
Mariel Rosic Neuroengineering Researcher Brown University LinkedIn
Pam Rubinoff Coastal Extension Specialist URI Coastal Resources Center
Peter Rumsey Director, RI Innovation Campus RI Commerce
Dan Ryder Education Director Success & Innovation Center, Mt. Blue Campus, ME
Claudia Sabastiany Technology Market Development Manager
Dennese Salazar Manager Brown Design Workshop
Betsy Santarlasci Food Initiative Director Social Enterprise Greenhouse
Dan Sarbacker Director of Portfolio for Digital Transformation
Greg Satell Author/Speaker Digital Tonto @DigitalTonto LinkedIn
Liliana Satell Author/Speaker Berkshire Hathaway Fox Roach @DigitalTonto
Emily Sauter Student
Michael Schein President MicroFame Media @MichaelSchein1 LinkedIn
David Schurman Student Brown University LinkedIn
Katya Scocimara Student
Shawn Selleck Project Manager State of RI – Enterprise Technology Strategy and Service @selleck LinkedIn
Eric Shed Co-Director of Harvard Teacher Fellows; Lecturer on Education Harvard Graduate School of Education
Nina Shinday Manager of Innovation Newton Wellesley Hospital/Partners Healthcare
Michael Sikorsky CEO Robots and Pencils @mjsikorsky
Tony Silbert Partner Spartina Consulting
Charmaine Smith Chief Executive Officer Innovative Technology Education Fund @ITEFSTL LinkedIn
Corey Snow CRM Strategist | Solution Architect Harvard University @corey_snow LinkedIn
Don Stanford Chief Innovation Officer IGT
Jane Stanford
Betsy Stubblefield Loucks Senior Consultant Spartina Consulting @Betsyruthsl LinkedIn
Barry Svigals Partner Emeritus Svigals + Partners, LLP
Sheri Sweitzer
Tamika Taylor CEO, Founder Part Of The Conversation LinkedIn
Gino Tenace Founder & Managing Partner Tenegrity Ventures, LLC
Parker Thomas FUSE Executive Fellow City of Fremont @fpthomas
Mark Truman Director, Advanced Research & Innovation IGT
Meg VanDeusen Operations and Finance Manager Feedback Labs @FeedbackLabs
Karla E. Vigil Co-founder EduLeaders of Color Rhode Island @karlaevigil
Marshall Votta Geek Whisperer
Wendy Wendeborn Special Projects & Change Manager PwC
Denise Williams Director of Instruction Evergreen School District
Jhaymee Wilson Tynan Director, Strategy Management and Growth Atrium Health @jhaymee
Sheryl Winarick Catalyst The Art of Migration @swinarick LinkedIn
Isabelle Yisak Experience Designer TeamBIF @iyisak LinkedIn
Chris Yoon Student Brown University LinkedIn
Kay Zagrodny Senior Experience Designer TeamBIF @TheBIF LinkedIn

How to Have your Audience at Hello (Sam Horn)

The bloggers have spoken–the BIF summit rocks! Last week Amanda Fenton eloquently discussed her excitement in anticipation for BIF-7, now please turn your attention to Sam Horns’ take on the power of storytelling! -Katherine Hypolite

One of the best conferences I’ve ever attended was BIF-6, held in Providence, RI and hosted by Saul Kaplan of the Business Innovation Factory.

Saul and his team collect an eclectic mix of pioneering thought leaders ranging from Tony Hsieh of Zappos to Alan Webber, co-founder of Fast Company, Jason Fried of Rework and Keith Yamashita, who believes many of us “fritter away our greatness.”

Each presented a TED-like 18-minute presentation introducing their latest invention or insight.

I was on the edge of my seat for the entire two days.

There was a recurring, underlying theme to each presentation. These visionaries had either:

A) seen something wrong and thought, “Someone should DO something about this. After being bothered about it for a while, they finally concluded, “I’m as much a someone as anyone. I’LL do something about this.”

B) witnessed something that wasn’t what it could be. They thought, “It doesn’t have to be that way. There’s got to be a better way. An easier, greener, more satisfying, profitable way. And I’m going to come up with that way.”

I’ll be featuring some of their intriguing stories in upcoming blogs.

For now, I want to share the opening of the individual who did the best job at winning buy-in the first 60 seconds.

Are you wondering, “Was this someone who’s given hundreds of presentations, who’s done lots of media?”

Nope. The person who had us at hello was a surprise.

She walked to the center of the stage, centered herself (literally and figuratively) and stood tall and confident until everyone in the room gave her their undivided attention.

Then, flashing a playful grin, she said, “I know what you’re thinking.”

Long pause.

“What can a 7th grader possibly teach me about innovation?!”

Big smile.

“Well, we 7th graders know a thing or two. Like,” and here she spoofed herself, “how to flip our hair.” At this point, she tossed her long hair over her shoulder.

The crowd laughed, (with her, not at her). Everyone was instantly engaged and impressed with this young woman’s moxie and presence.

“We also know we have the power to make things better if we put our minds to it. For example . . . ” and she was off and running.

12-year-old Cassandra Lin had us at hello.

The Cliff Notes version of her story is that she and her class discovered the clogged sewer pipes in their city were the verge of causing a disaster because so many restaurants and industrial companies were pouring their F.O.G (Fat, Oil, Grease) down the closest drain.

After doing some research, she and her classmates started T.G.I.F – Turn Grease into Fuel – an award-winning recycling effort that generates money for needy families.

Read the entire article at Sam Horn’s blog

#BIF10 Storytellers Featured in Series

This summer we’ve been honored with the opportunity to publish a series of articles in the Business section of

For the series, BIF’s Chief Catalyst Saul Kaplan and our wonderful Brown University intern Nicha Ratana have created a series of interviews with BIF10 storytellers that explore their approaches to innovation and the importance of the BIF Collaborative Innovation Summit.

Here’s the series so far:

Transforming Communities from the Ground Up

“Everything grows from the ground up,” said Angela Blanchard, President and CEO of BakerRipley, in a recent Business Model Sandbox Podcast with our Chief Catalyst, Saul Kaplan.

As one of the largest community development corporations in Houston and the US, BakerRipley employs a human-centered approach to community transformation that today serves over half a million people. Angela emphasizes the need for “appreciative inquiry” and the holistic integration of services when it comes to community work, and isn’t going to wait until government figures out how to provide for communities before identifying what neighborhoods and their residents already have to work with.

BIF is delighted to welcome Angela to our Board of Directors, and thankful for the following insights shared during her recent interview with Saul. They resonate particularly well with us here in BIF’s Citizen Experience Lab, as they are truly demonstrative of what it means to be “citizen-centered” in the work that we do.

Everything Grows from the Ground Up

In the podcast, Angela revealed that she is an avid gardener and enjoys working in the soil. Like the plants she spends time cultivating, community work, she recognizes, won’t take off unless you start on the ground. You have to get to know the community with which you are working, the people that live there, and what their aspirations are before you can begin any sort of sustainable work in community transformation, and we feel similarly here at the BIF. That’s why the first stage of any human-centered work is the participatory analysis element, in which our designers, working with our clients, take some quality time to really get to know the users of the systems we seek to re-create. “Everything grows from the ground up” functions as an excellent reminder that our work must always be grounded in a strong intimacy with the community members, patients, students, and in the CXL, citizens that we seek to serve if we can reasonably expect those systems to grow and thrive.

Work with What You’ve Got – And Build

Angela recognizes that approaches to community development typically fixate on problems. Practitioners attempt to offer technical solutions to ‘broken neighborhoods,’ ‘broken communities,’ and ‘broken families’ that fall short of affecting any holistic change. This deficits approach to community development, she claims, is not working. Rather, BakerRipley engages communities through the lens of “appreciative inquiry” and “appreciative community building,” which draws upon existing community assets and provides for self-determined change. Here at BIF, we know it is important to consider and leverage the existing capabilities of any organization when seeking transformation through business model innovation — to identify and work with what you already have. Recognizing what you have to work with and moving forward with that is the first step towards change, and Angela is a person who doesn’t like to waste any time waiting around for government or “someone somewhere else to figure things out” to start making a difference. Like us, she operates with a bias for action.

Another good reminder from Angela is that you can’t help those who haven’t asked for help; this most often results in agenda-pushing, amounting to what she referred to as appropriation or even “colonization.” This is especially important when working with communities that have been marginalized or disenfranchised because otherwise, you’re just another group forcing your own agenda onto them. Angela recognizes that BakerRipley’s role in these neighborhoods is one of an ‘enabler.’ They enable change and transformation founded on the goals and aspirations they hear on the ground, using the strengths and assets of the community to build upon, and thus facilitate change by enabling the agency of the folks who have asked BakerRipley to assist them.

This is hugely important for not only community buy-in of projects, but to work on projects identified and driven by the very community they seek to help — because you can’t help people if you’re not giving them what they need or want. Only in this way can their work be truly community-centered, and the same is true of any work that aims to transform and improve the citizen experience in a genuinely human and user-centered way. The point could even be taken to considering our own BIF CXL clients — you can’t help a public service transform if its leaders aren’t open to trying a more human-centered approach. You can’t force innovation onto someone unless they’re already open to it.

Community First

By being rooted in the community experience, open to trying a variety of new and different models, and committed to community transformation that works for community members, BakerRipley is an example for what government social services could be. With a holistic, un-siloed approach to integrated services based upon what the communities in the neighborhoods where they work really want and need, BakerRipley delivers tremendous value to hundreds of thousands of people — succeeding at great scale. The work of the organization that Angela leads is rooted in the assets and aspirations of community members, which has proven extraordinarily effective. And its agile and bold ability to test, try, fail, and try again makes for ample learning and quicker success. The work of BakerRipley is truly a model for effective, human-centered transformation, and the organization has hundreds of thousands of success stories to share to back that up.

BIF Summit Scholarships Are Now Available!

Every year BIF awards a limited number of both complimentary tickets and discounted tickets to our summit to students and community members who are unable to pay our full registration. To be considered for one of these tickets we ask that you fill out the application form and tell us why you belong at BIF2016!

We’re excited to announce Cale Birk as this years first Community Scholarship recipient! We asked Cale why he’s excited to attend BIF2016 and his response was nothing short of inspirational.

Cale writes: As a high school Principal, I had been trying to develop a model for a ‘demonstration school’ where teachers would be encouraged to take pedagogical ‘risks’: working together to design and implement new approaches in their classrooms that were potentially very different than traditional methods.  

However, I wasn’t getting a great deal of traction on my idea. It was at that point that I happened across Saul Kaplan’s book, The Business Model Innovation Factory. I read the book in a weekend, and the idea of ‘the adjacent possible’ made so much sense, especially considering the model that I had been playing with. And after doing a little digging, I discovered that the Business Innovation Factory put on an annual summit, and that was it, I needed to go to BIF! I knew that I had to try to find some way to get to BIF 2016.  

Cale will be making his way to the Summit all the way from British Columbia, Canada and says he’s looking forward to seeing everyone at BIF2016!

 Applications are reviewed on a first come first serve basis. Tickets are limited. Click on the link below for more details.



Connect. Inspire. Transform. Register #BIF2018

Introducing the PMxD Maternal Health Prototype

In the last few months since we shared our Personalized Medicine by Design (PMxD) conceptual business model, we’ve been hard at work evaluating initial health and wellbeing challenges for the Prototype phase of the PMxD design process. One challenge had particular urgency and that is why we have chosen to launch the PMxD Maternal Health Prototype.

PMxD is a transformational business model designed by our founder and Chief Catalyst, Saul Kaplan, that puts individuals at the core of a personalized health and wellbeing experience leading to improved healthcare outcomes. At the heart of the PMxD model, individuals are enabled by four core capabilities: Unleashing Personal Agency, Understanding Patterns of Wellness, Activating Personal Networks of Wellbeing, and Integrating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). The PMxD model has been informed by 70 BIF business model design projects over 14 years in healthcare, education, and social services.

Today we are proud and excited to introduce the PMxD Maternal Health Prototype: A Personalized Wellbeing Model to Improve Maternal Health Outcomes for Black and Brown Women



We are mobilizing the PMxD Maternal Health Prototype, starting in our home state of Rhode Island, to co-create opportunities with Black and brown pregnant women (25 in the initial prototype cohort) to access the information, practices, and support needed to help them achieve better maternal health outcomes for themselves and their babies. We believe that maternal health outcomes will improve if we center women in the model and focus on wellbeing, provide seamless integration of care when needed, and equip women with what they need for more successful maternal health. In the PMxD Maternal Health Prototype women will be empowered to trust their instincts, and seek help earlier if they experience heart health or mental health warning signs. Ultimately, women will have increased personal agency and confidence to positively influence outcomes within the prototype, and increased equity in care will reduce racial disparities in maternal health outcomes.

We welcome you to follow, engage in, and support our PMxD journey, it’s a collaborative process, and together we can start by improving maternal health outcomes in the U.S. 

Learn More About the PMxD Maternal Health Prototype