Interning at an Innovation and Strategy Firm  

    Southern Growth Studio exposes its interns to every facet of what it does. I learned the importance of ethnography and research design--which have a shared foundation of empathy--and its application in the real world. I learned how to distill these findings into an industry assessment, and how to think critically to divine a solution to the client’s need. I learned a lot of other things like this, things that don’t transfer interestingly into description.

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Conscious Innovation

This human-centered approach to commerce and its empowering dynamism in both the field of Innovation and the construct of Conscious Capitalism make them different dimensions of the same profound shift. Business is changing, for the better. Instead of the sole goal of making money, it now wants to make money while creating significance and social value.

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Three Phases of Embedding Innovation

Many expensive and time-consuming efforts to build innovation capability and capacity inside of organizations fail for a few simple reasons. Either they import a framework completely from the outside without attuning it to their practices and the culture and internal systems reject it or an anxiety to “get it right” leads to years of benchmarking, planning, and the formation of the governance of innovation without actually doing the work—and the work is simple: create net new value.

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Why do so many digital transformations fail?

Digital transformations are actually transformations of mindset, business model, culture, and operations. These are people problems, in the main, not technology issues. Unless you have an ambitious and articulated strategy and a map for aligning all of the people who make up the culture, sorry, but the effort will drown in the quicksand of company politics, quagmired in a lack of hands-on, enterprise-wide change management training.

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Innovation in K-12 Education

You can see the rise of whiteboards and bean bags instead of desks, maker spaces, flex areas, collaboration zones, as well as more media-editing suites. Some of these schools look like a Design Studio or Architecture firm. Even a big educational book publisher, like Pearson, offer a suite of products with such transformational taglines as “Learning Without Limits” these products and services include helping school systems change their approach to education from the classroom layout to their entire orientation to curriculum.

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Practicing Innovation: An Inside Job

Innovators need to be driven by purpose, spend some quiet time deeply thinking each day, and be afflicted with an undying curiosity to thrive.

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Healthy Dose of Amnesia

As you start a strategic process or an innovation discipline, bring in those who will force you to confront your own blind spots, get off your old soapboxes, and generate some new thinking.

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Finding Courage to Do Something Great

For a little more than a year, I’ve been involved with ECHO, an organization that helps people start charitable clinics based on the model of Church Health in Memphis. ECHO has ambitions to make a huge positive affect on creating access to high-quality healthcare for the underserved.

It will be a big deal if we reach our goals. Getting there will be difficult. In trying, I’ve learned a lot about myself and about what it takes to make a big difference. But I think it ultimately comes down to one thing:

Courage.

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Ethnography in Nonprofit Program Evaluation

Ask a nonprofit professional how her work is going, and you will likely be met with a passionate conversation about the difference she is making in the lives of her clients. Ask her how she is evaluating her program and the response will probably be less enthusiastic. You may hear about how many clients were served by the agency in a given time period or a dispassionate recounting of statistical information. Worse still, she may not have an answer at all!

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Scaling the qual/quant divide

1) Qualitative and quantitative research and data collection are mutually exclusive
Tools used in qualitative and quantitative research look very different from one another and, in turn, yield very different results.

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