Well, that was an unavoidable small pun. Today I visited Cheryl and Damien who are running a project called Changing the Future of Fish. They are both wildly interesting people and not only have a new passion for fish, but also are applying a quite different approach to the issue of sustainable fishing.
"We wanted to explore whether principles of social innovation, entrepreneurship and design thinking could produce a different way of “seeing” some of the very convoluted and entrenched issues around seafood."
The approach builds upon the design thinking that IDEO has developed over the years - but now applied to an "important" issue, not business. Also, the experiences from Ashoka on scaling social innovation are applied.
Impressed once again. People do some pretty cool work out there.
I made a new friend at the VizThink conference in San Jose, USA. A Danish guy, Ole Qvist-Sørensen. It is kind of surreal to meet a fellow Scandinavian so far away from home, but that is just how things can be. Anyway, Ole is insanely cool and one of the stars of the conference. Check out his work at Bigger Picture. Also make sure to check his non-profit venture The Survival Academy, where he strives to bring together visual thinkers around climate change.
I don't know about you but I'm going to make sure I'll be in Copenhagen in December.
Well, first of all I should say that this a form of learning and inspiration trip. I was here just about a year ago with the same purpose and learned a lot from a lot of brilliant people that I was fortunate enought to meet.
This time around a lot has changed. Credit crunch, talk about recession, etc. So it is very interesting to experience how this very entrepreneurial region is coping - and perhaps exploring new opportunities!
Monday through Wednesday I'm at the VizThink conference in San Jose. The event is designed around visual thinking in business - both practically and strategically. It should be a great three days with lots of new people to meet and learn from.
Wednesday evening to Friday afternoon I'll be in San Francisco to meet people in my network - also visit IDEO if everthing falls neatly into place.
I should be back home to hug my family on Saturday afternoon CET.
I'll try to keep the blog going from here, but please be prepared that updates can be irregular.
I'm heading to San Francisco for a week. I hope to keep updating the blog, but It might not be as frequent as normal. My Twitter stream should be more or less uninterupted, unless when I'm on planes. You can follow me in the space on the right or directly at www.twitter.com/jandeman.
Currently Swedish news services are covering the crisis for SAAB and Volvo. This morning SAAB applied for a reconstruction at a court in west Sweden.
Heartless as this may seem it does seem pretty obvious to me that manufacturing cars has nothing to do with Sweden in the new world of work. It could never be our edge and really hasn't been for many decades. Even when the two companies were sold to American giants Swedes somehow contuined to take pride in these companies. And they have sold many cars in the local Swedish market - especially Volvo. But I would say that this was more out of tradition than from intelligent consumer choices.
I have yet to meet someone who is enthusiastic about his/her Volvo or SAAB. And that says something about their true status of these cars and probably quickly turned to a big liability these last couple of months. Sales have more or less halted. Of course cars in general aren't selling well. But the problems for Volvo and SAAB are spectacular. And the old slogan "buy Swedish" doesn't work anymore... Who wants to sink good money into the gigantic black holes of GM or Ford?
So let us quickly get out of the mental slavery of having a "Swedish" car industry. Let us cover our losses and quickly discuss which new exciting businesses and industries we can build instead.
In case you wonder - yes I have owned a Swedish car once. In the early 90's I inherited by grandfather's old SAAB 96 from 1967 and drove it for a couple of years. That was an insanely cool car. But not much has happened since then.
Have more or less concluded reading Schumacher's Small is Beautiful and must say it was time well spent. I'm certainly on the track of seeing beauty and humanness in smallness!
At the end of the book Schumacher explores some themes that would seem quite interesting in light of recent events on financial markets. He has a whole chapter on ownership that should be mandatory reading in business school. I'm not saying one must agree, but what I do say is that one MUST be aware of such alternatives and perspectives that he discusses.
The business world is very one-sided in it's capitalistic views - even now. Now here is an idea that popped into my head after reading Schumacher's chapter on ownership:
What would happen in the economy and in ecology if we had laws that said that after a company had reached a certain size it would be turned over to public ownership? When companies are become very big they become a big societal concern. They use up "free" public resources, create dependencies, generate waste, etc - all on a more massive scale than small businesses.
If one wants to avoid public ownership the sollution would be to split up into smaller units as one grows. With the probable effect that the overall negative consequences of the businesses would be minimized. Smaller scale: more human, smaller ecological footprint. That is the logic I see.
The really big businesses would be under control of our democratic institutions. Profit maximaization and thus over exploitation of people and environment could be curbed - if this was the priority of the people.
Granted, this is not what we are seeing today in Swedish state owned businesses like Vattenfall... But I still think that is more a result of skewed mission definitions and goal formulations. There must be several kinds of interpretations of what "public interest" should be. The current one being profit maximization...