Archive for the ‘problem solving’ Category

Daniel Pink. Illustration by Rob Ten Pas

Daniel Pink. Illustration by Rob Ten Pas

Daniel Pink‘s book, Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need, will be the publishing company’s first imported manga!


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May 20, 2008 – The U.S.-Japan Innovators Network held the public symposium Innovation & the Art of Future Building in New York on May 20 in order to explore innovative approaches to helping people envision a better future, whether it’s a community coping with natural disaster, an individual rebounding from homelessness or online networks sharing information vital to recovery. Part of Japan Society’s U.S.-Japan Innovators Network, the program was co-organized with MCG Jazz, Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans and The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership. A second presentation took place Thursday, May 22, at the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans, LA.

For a summary of the event, please read Innovation & the Art of Future Building.

To listen to the participants’ different perspectives on recovery and future building, please visit Innovators Podcasts on Japan Society’s website.

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Keith Yamashita appears on CNBC’s series “The Business of Innovation,” a show about leadership, innovation, and the daring of some of the world’s most ambitious companies. This five-part series airs on Monday nights, starting June 2nd. Maria Bartiromo hosts the show, and Keith is one of the on-air thought leaders who interview CEOs and other innovators. The show features leaders from a number of Keith’s SYPartners’ clients, past and present, such as Nike, Starbucks, Herman Miller, Facebook, among many others. In filming the show, they talked with everyone from legendary leaders like Jack Welch and Howard Schultz to budding entrepreneurs at the Stanford Institute of Design, as well as Silicon Valley’s Randy Komisar, Nobel Laureate Muhummad Yunnis, FedEx CIO Rob Carter, hip-hop clothing moguls, and leaders of entire nations like Singapore. For the next five weeks, Keith will also be blogging about episodes and topics of the show at http://www.keithyamashita.com.

The show airs Mondays at 9pm Eastern time/6pm Pacific time. More information about the show can be read at http://innovation.cnbc.com/.

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The U.S.-Japan Innovators Network is pleased to announce Common Ground’s first annual Jazz Is Life Concert to Benefit Homeless, which will be held on April 18, 2008, at the Prince George Ballroom in New York City. Featuring Nancy Wilson and the DIVA Jazz Orchestra, this event is a collaborative effort between IN participants Rosanne Haggerty, founder of Common Ground, and Marty Ashby, Executive Producer of MCG Jazz, who began discussing this event as they headed to Narita Airport after the Innovators Network retreat (IN)SIGHT: Bridging Gaps.

For tickets please visit http://www.commonground.com/

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For all of you that just purchased or want to purchase a new iPhone please take a couple minutes to step back and think about the Apple’s new product and what it means in terms of global connectivity and the importance of the Internet. Chances are if you are in the hunt for a new iPhone then you are probably connected to the Internet in more ways than one, either through your current cell phone, Blackberry, laptop computer, desktop computer, school computer or work computer. Yes, the iPhone is a phone, ipod and many other things, but most importantly, it serves as yet another Internet-penetrating-device. It’s another way for people to google, youtube and facebook to their heart’s content. Currently 69% of North America is connected to the Internet, according to Internet World Stats. I’m willing to bet this increases that number. Those of you who live in the United States like me know this country is very well connected. Most of us take LAN outlets and wireless hubs for granted nowadays. Need to check you e-mail? Pop into a Starbucks. Going on a date tonight and need to check movie times? Pull out your Blackberry. At times when I’m walking down the street or riding in a subway car it seems like everybody around me is connected to the Internet through some handheld device.

This introduction of the Blackberry, iPhone and Internet-ready cell phones is a testament to the importance of the Internet. These little tools are truly the closest thing to holding the world in the palm of your hand other than grabbing a globe and making a cute joke. Think of everything you have ever searched for, all the videos you’ve watched on YouTube, all of the music you’ve downloaded and articles and blogs you’ve read and you come to realize what an amazing invention the Internet is. You can learn languages, take virtual journeys through Tibet, manage your bank account and read Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, every public school in the United States is connected to the Internet. Nobody would think of you as crazy if you said everybody in the world should be connected to the Internet. However the problem of the lack of global connectivity exists in a very big way: Only 14% of the world is connected to the Internet. 14%!!! Only 43% of Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America are connected to the Internet combined; however they make up about 82% of the world’s population! North America makes up only 5.1% of the world population but is connected to the Internet better than any other region in the world. That means people throughout the world have little or no access to what we take for granted day in and day out. Without computers and tools that allow Internet access people miss out on opportunities to learn skills and information essential to improving their lives. However, as dire as the situation may seem, this problem is more than solvable.

As you read this people are creating new ways to bring the Internet to those less fortunate.

Buying a new computer? Send your old one to Africa. Have an innovative idea on how to accelerate global connectivity? Give AMD’s Open Architecture Challenge sponsored by AMD 50×15 initiative a shot. By providing an opportunity to access the Internet you provide access to educational, social and economic information that can help allow people to improve their lives.

Before you buy that new iPhone or click on that icon that magically whisks you away to the Internet take a minute to think about those people who might really benefit from the Internet. They won’t be checking out movie trailers, they’ll be looking for ways to survive.

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Hello, and welcome to the Japan Society’s U.S.-Japan Innovators Network staff blog. I’m Andrew Stuerzel, Program Associate of Global Affairs, and I’m here to kick-start what we hope will be an interesting, informative and stimulating resource for people committed to a better future. In short, the U.S.-Japan Innovators Network is a multidisciplinary network of innovators committed to making a social impact through retreats, symposia, exchanges and virtual media. The Network enables participants to step outside their everyday lives, connect with people, collaborate with them and catalyze the future.

Marty Ashby performing a jazz piece during the Innovators symposiumRecently we’ve been discussing a number of topics here at Japan Society, such as sustainable design, revitalizing communities and essential skills for social entrepreneurs like improvisation and storytelling. Last month we held our first-ever public symposium titled Improvisation, Creativity, Collaboration: Fueling Innovation in the 21st Century. The symposium participants Marty Ashby, Dan Pink, Hiroshi Tasaka and Alan Webber highlighted the importance of jazz and “right brain” qualities like improvisation, empathy and joy. What really hit home for me was this theme of “ego management” in the boardroom discussed during Marty Ashby’s conversation with Alan Webber. According to Marty ego management is just another way of checking your ego at the door. Know yourself, embrace you strengths and weakness and celebrate the strengths of the people around you. Anybody can lead at any moment. Don’t impose you will on others because if you do it will only lead to inharmonious moments, which leads to stalled collaboration and improvisation. In Marty’s words, “You just have to swing man.”

Listening to Marty, my mind drifted back to the Innovators Network’s last retreat in January 2007, (IN)SIGHT: Bridging Gaps. There, retreat participant and founder and CEO of Architecture for Humanity Cameron Sinclair talked about ego management as well, but in a different sense. Cameron talked aboutBridging Gaps retreat in Tokyo Architecture for Humanity and how it serves people in developing and war-torn countries. His take on ego management came down to this: Don’t go in thinking you know the best solution. Ask the people what they want and need, let the people be collaborators in the design process and go from there.

It seems so simple doesn’t it? Let the end-user help design what they need. Imposing your own personal designs, plans, structures and ideas is the way of the past. Open source collaboration is erasing the lines between expert and your “average Joe.” By empowering people to step up and become part of the process you can start a cycle of empowerment within a community that changes the way they live forever.

Inspiration and genius can come from anywhere at anytime; from the kids playing soccer in an alley of some war-torn country or from the junior-level assistant you just hired.

Check you ego at the door, learn from those around you…and just swing.

A couple of quick hits before you go:

The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum (2 East 91st Street, New York, NY 10128) is holding a great exhibition demonstrating how design can be a dynamic force in saving and transforming lives, at home and around the world. A couple of us from Japan Society visited Cooper-Hewitt recently and were really impressed by the innovative design solutions currently on display there. Check it out. On display until September 23, 2007. Here’s a little bit about the exhibition:

Design for the Other 90%

“The exhibition highlights the growing trend among designers to create affordable and socially responsible objects for the vast majority of the world’s population (90 percent) not traditionally serviced by professional designers…[It’s] divided into sections focusing on water, shelter, health and sanitation, education, energy and transportation and highlights objects developed to empower global populations surviving under the poverty level or recovering from a natural disaster.”

World population growth is increasing. Available drinking water is decreasing. Let GOOD Magazine put it in perspective for you in Drink Up: “The world’s water resources are becoming increasingly valuable–and strained. GOOD and the Office of CC put the mind-boggling numbers in perspective.” View Drink Up transparency.

And for those of you who think this water problem effects only developing countries you might want to read this article: US News and World Report, The Coming Water Crisis, By Marianne Lavelle and Joshua Kurlantzick. Here’s a little taste:

“In a nation where abundant, clear, and cheap drinking water has been taken for granted for generations, it is hard to imagine residents of a major city adjusting to life without it. But Atlanta’s water woes won’t seem so unusual in the years ahead. Across the country, long-neglected mains and pipes, many more than a century old, are reaching the end of their life span. When pipes fail, pressure drops and sucks dirt, debris, and often bacteria and other pathogens into the huge underground arteries that deliver water…America’s aging water infrastructure needs huge new investment, and soon.”

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