Highlights video: Tim Ogilvie @ UFBS

Every week of the Unfinished Business School starts with a short, TED-style, video to give context for the lesson. Our first week is led by Tim Ogilvie of Peer Insight, who along with Darden Professor Jeanne Liedtka wrote the book Designing for Growth. Here is a short excerpt from Tim’s video. Enjoy!

For more on the Unfinished Business School, check out moso.com/unfinishedbusiness.

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Unfinished Business School Video

Thanks to Ruth for creating this AWESOME new promo video for the Unfinished Business School. The program is differentiated by the learning experience, and finally we have a way to share it. Enjoy, and please pass along!

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Virtual Market Games

At Moso, we’re always on the lookout for tools that let you scale your innovation initiatives. Here’s an example, Virtual Market Games by Luke Hohmann. A compelling web based app that fosters collaboration within extended teams, and helps prioritize initiatives and make decisions.

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Moso supports Design & Thinking!

Moso supports Design & Thinking on Kickstarter; a documentary film about Design Thinking. They’re almost halfway to their goal, help them out – this is a film that deserves to be made!

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Scaling ethnographic projects using dscout

At Moso, we’re always on the lookout for tools that let you scale your innovation initiatives. Here’s a great example: dscout by Gravity Tank, a tool for scaling your ethnography projects. Dscout leverages the technology of smartphones and uses it to shorten the research process and capture visual, geographical, time-based and textual data from, and for their customers.

What other tools are in your toolkit? Join our discussion on Linkedin.

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The ideation process behind “This American Life”

We introduce Murderboarding as a core technique in the Unfinished Business School because the selection from myriad ideas is one of the biggest challenges in business design. Ira Glass presents an excellent case study for this process, as he talks about the art of creating compelling stories only by weeding through a ton of bad ideas.

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Gamestorming – Week 2 of the Unfinished Business School

Do you need a facilitator when you play monopoly with your family? Gamestorming is about finding ways to add structure to meetings, so that you can be more effective. Dave Gray facilitates week 2 of our Unfinished Business School, and in this short conversation with Michael he introduces Gamestorming and why it is important to your organization.

Read more about Gamestorming and the Unfinished Business School.

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Innovation Loves a Bubble: Disrupting Higher Ed

Who knows how it started, but the language of the “bubble”, a term historically attached to an over-inflated economic market, has now been attached to higher education. The question, too long in coming, is whether we have spectacularly distorted the value of a college education (let alone post-graduate degrees). In the 60s & 70s, North America saw a drive to greater inclusion in higher ed, a democratization of the opportunities it was thought to be a gateway to. The 80s & 90s saw the rise of a whole new order of selectivity as elite colleges negotiated an unprecedented boom in applicants. This same growth in demand spurred massive growth in the size of state university systems and a renaissance of the community college system. But all along there has been a nearly blind faith that the goods of such an education are beyond question and that the credentials they provide are truly necessary to social and professional advancement.

Louis Menand has written a fine piece in a recent New Yorker issue that points out some of the broad themes of the emerging debate. He lays out the case for three theories of the value of higher education and provides an excellent critical lay of the land.

Peter Thiel, venture capitalist and entrepreneur, has launched a very “money where your mouth is” critique in the form of his 20 under 20 project, in which his foundation will pay an elite group of applicnats $100 thousand each to leave college and start companies. Though the program was announced in the fall of last year, the news went viral when it was covered by Sarah Lacy at Tech Crunch in April.

The Wall Street journal asked the question back in June of 2009, following a piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education that May. And on May 13th of this year, no less than The Economist weighed in.

Where’s there’s bubble talk, there is often significant opportunity for innovation. Grokit and StudyBlue are innovating the way people prepare for tests, both to get into school and once they are there. Kaplan, the test prep giant, launched Kaplan University back in the late 2000′s, and its online courses are a growth business. Innovative programs like Stanford’s dSchool, the MBA in Design Strategy at the California College of the Arts, and the MDes in Strategic Foresight and Innovation at OCADU are all evidence of emerging disruption in the space of higher ed.

Where there’s still not nearly enough innovation is at the level of foundational questions. Why do we still make such a rigid separation between school and job? between learning and work? These distinctions are still relatively new, artifacts of industrialization, and overshadow much older and still vital and resilient traditions of master/apprentice learning.

Moso’s recently launched Unfinished Business School is certainly an effort to use the tools of the web in an effort to innovate on the ways in which higher ed and corporate training have failed to deliver models of learning that fit the needs and pace of businesses that want growth driven by innovation. The opportunities to combine learning and new value creation are huge.

I recently spent a weekend with a group of innovation ninja at Overlap, some of whom were actively occupied by these questions. We talked about building mobile learning platforms that could take new thinking and tools across the country on a “magic” bus, of creating kits that allowed people to prototype new spaces or configurations of space to support new forms of learning, and of starting businesses that removed the barrier between learning and producing or serving.

We shouldn’t waste time worrying about the bubble in higher ed, we should be hard charging our way into innovating myriad ways to harness the power of its bursting rather than waiting to be caught helpless in its blowback.

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Designing for Growth – Week 1 of the Unfinished Business School

For the first week of Moso’s Unfinished Business School, Tim Ogilvie shared insights on Design Thinking for managers, and some practical techniques for resolving the tension between innovation and optimization. Between takes for his lecture, Tim sat down with Moso CEO Michael Dila to talk about how he came into this space, and his new book, with Jeanne Liedtka, “Designing for Growth”.

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Architecting the Unfinished Business School

It’s been a big week here at Moso! We’ve just launched the Unfinished Business School, a hyperlocal six-week course that teaches a core set of practical tools of innovation. Our first cohort consists of participants from six leading enterprises, from diverse industries but with a shared desire to develop their innovative capability.

Here’s a short “Day in the Life” video that gives the highlights of the program:

We made three big decisions when designing the program: the first was that we wanted the course to foster networking between companies. We believe that participants from Financial Institutions, for example, can benefit from working on exercises together with participants from media companies or bicycle manufacturers. Of course, you can get this diversity of perspectives from an MBA or from a conference. So we made a second big decision around the cohort, that each company would send five participants. Think about what happens when you send one employee to a conference or course; they get new knowledge and learn new skills, but it doesn’t disseminate. We designed the Unfinished Business School so that you would work with a partner from another business (networking), but then reflect on the learnings with your home team, in so doing developing a shared vocabulary and toolkit. The third important design decision was that it should have a small footprint. Most of the course activities (readings, video keynotes) are asynchronous, and can be done on your own time. The elements that need to be scheduled are short practical activities to be done with one partner, where collaboration can easily be solved by picking up the phone. This unobtrusive nature of the program is highly complementary to the idea of building a shared vocabulary and toolkit; we can scale this program through your enterprise. We believe that all managers should have an awareness of these tools, so scale was a big deal.

In our school, there are no classrooms. Participants in the first cohort come from 4 US states and Canada. The challenge, when participants are distributed, is how to make the course social. This is an area where we will be continuously improving, but out of the gate I think we’ve launched with a very social and effective learning experience. One of the core tools that we are introducing to participants is Twitter; this is bar none, the best way to connect to the flow of innovation knowledge that is being created around us. By building visualization tools on top of Twitter (for example, Hashgang and our upcoming Moso Index), we can provide some taming of the information fire hose. Given that participants are with us for six weeks, but will spend their career innovating, we opt to facilitate connections through Twitter & LinkedIn rather than building a proprietary collaboration platform.

So what is our platform? We’ve developed large parts of the platform on Heroku, using Ruby on Rails. Heroku is a great example of an innovator in the systems development space, an open platform where developers can easily discover and assemble a multitude of SaaS infrastructure services on which to build their applications. We run our internal operations on Podio, a project management / collaboration platform that is remarkable in its flexibility and ease with which we can deploy new workflows and corporate apps. We’re using SquareSpace for course content management, fronted by a clean and intuitive interface.

We like to try new things, and one of our early experiments with the cohort has been the use of VideoGenie to capture participant videos. Brands typically use VideoGenie to capture qualitative product feedback; for example, Levi’s FreeForum. As we often like to do, we’ve taken a tool designed for another purpose and found a new way to create value. We wanted our participants to “meet” each other, and gave them an opening exercise to make a video that answered two questions: what is one thing that you know too much about, and one thing that you would like to know more about. We’re pushing boundaries here, and expect some hiccups, but we treat challenges as potholes rather than roadblocks. When one of our participants couldn’t make a video because he didn’t have access to a webcam, Ruth came to the rescue with a great solution:

That’s it for now. We’ll share more as we get farther along with the first cohort. We are currently accepting submissions for our September cohort; if you’re interested please reach out to Michael or I. If you’d like to get dialed in to what we’re up to, join our LinkedIn group, follow us on Twitter, or join the UFBS mailing list. Above all, please help spread the word about the program and our fancy new Unfinished Business School website.

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