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Tag: Innovation

Productive Innovation

Blogpost first published at the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship Website.

// Making science useful
Academia is far too oftenswf removed from practice. Thousands of books and articles are written about innovation and practitioners feel inclined to ask: so what? Johanna Mair, Professor of Organization, Management and Leadership at the Hertie School of Governance and Academic Editor of the Stanford Social Innovation Review and Christian Seelos, a visiting scholar at the Stanford University Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society who previously directed the IESE Platform for Strategy and Sustainability, feel and understand this frustration. In a session on the balancing act of innovation and scale at the Skoll World Forum they engage with the audience as a step towards bridging these diverging worlds: by intervening more productively in the world in a scholarly way.

// From innovation as an ideology to innovation as a process
Much scholarly attention concentrates on the creation of social ventures neglecting established organizations and the question of how to innovate continuously. Mair and Seelos stress that innovation needs to be seen as a process, not an ideology: “Innovation is not the holy grail.” We often overrate the value of innovation, undervalue the importance of failed innovation and underappreciate the difficulty of innovation. Innovation is a complex process and a long and continuous development from idea over evaluation to experimentation. Along the way organizations face many pitfalls. Ideas often never get started; or end too early. Reasons are, for example, a strong target focus, power struggles, fearing punishment and potential failures, a homogenous workforce and too much distance of managers from the frontline.

// Productive innovation
Andrew, a Skoll World Forum attendee, comments: “The ideas are there, but opportunities are not.” Many heads nod. The remark hits one of the core problems that Mair and Seelos convey: Organisations need innovation routines and processes. Ideas are normally not enacted by individuals. They require groups and both formal and informal engagement. Innovation consists of idea generation, evaluation, experimentation and enactment. Within this difficult and complex process, organisations should artistically balance innovation and scale by exploiting past and targeting future innovations given the availability of resources – in a process of productive innovation.

Zahnräder Netzwerk – ein Update

Logo_zrn_2012// Sozialer Inkubator

Zahnräder ist eine Plattform für soziale Innovation. Wir helfen bei der Verwirklichung von den unterschiedlichsten Projekten – von der Idee über die Umsetzung bis zum gereiften Ergebnis. Wir fördern Soziales Unternehmertum, also Social Entrepreneurship, getreu dem Motto: von Muslimen für die Gesellschaft. Für mehr Teilnahme & Teilhabe an unserer Gesellschaft.

// Zahnräder extern: Konferenz

Die nächste Konferenz findet im April in Heidelberg statt – man kann sich noch hier anmelden. Gewinner aus den letzten Jahren waren u.a. CubeMag, Hima, i,slam, Muhammadhoeren, Muslime.TV und StudyCoach 2.0.  Wir bieten Ideen und Projekten Motivation, Wissen, Kontakte und finanzielle Unterstützung an (die vier Formen von Kapital in der Tabelle unten). Einige Projekte konnten durch das Preisgeld umgesetzt werden, andere Projekte brauchten noch einen Schuss Motivation oder Projektwissen, um den nächsten Schritt einzuleiten. Oft kamen auch Personen mit ähnlichen Ideen zusammen und haben sich daran gemacht, diese dann deutschlandweit umzusetzen. Aus zwei lokalen Ideen wurde so ein wirkliches und wirkendes bundesweites Projekt, das Deutschland mitbewegt. Dieses Jahr wird es übrigens Preisgelder von über 3000 Euro geben.

Und tolle ZahnräderX-Veranstaltungen bieten Zahnräder lokal an, z.B. in Berlin und NRW– vor der Haustür sozusagen.

Ability Usability
Internal Human Capital Cultural & Motivational Capital
External Social Capital Financial Capital

// Zahnräder-Historie

Darum geht’s: Intern wie extern möchten wir einander „bewegen“ – innovativ, kreativ, professionell: ein Netzwerk muslimischer Entrepreneure. Zahnräder begann im März 2010 vor knapp 3 Jahren mit diesem Wunsch nach Bewegung. Nach einem ersten dreiköpfigen Treffen im März in Oxford waren wir im Mai bereits 7 – 7 Gründer. Und wie auch heute in vielen Teams haben wir uns lange Zeit nicht gesehen, sondern nur via Skype kommuniziert. 3 Jahre später sind wir knapp 100 Mitwirkende.

Collage

// Unsere Partner

Wir haben vielfältige Partner: Jugend für Europa, British Council, das AKE Bildungswerk, die Sawasya Stiftung, der VdM, Islamic Relief und Ashoka Changemakers sind einige unserer Unterstützer. Letztes Jahr haben wir darüber hinaus den die Social Entrepreneurship Akademie Act for Impact Publikumspreis im Wert von 5000 Euro gewonnen. Zahnräder sagte: Danke.

// Zahnräder intern: Institutionalisierter Weiterbildungsprozess

Zahnräder besteht aus einem Zwei-Säulen-Modell. Extern untersützen wir bei der Verwirklichung von Projekten. Intern bieten wir die Möglichkeit, einen Lern- und Mitwirkungsprozess zu durchlaufen und so nicht nur die Gesellschaft sondern auch sich nachhaltig zu prägen: vom Teammitglied, über die Teamleitung bis hin zum Kernteam.

Wir sind dabei matrixartig organisiert und jedes Zahnrad kann mehrere Bereiche durchlaufen. Unsere Projektgruppen sind die Konferenzorganisation, ZahnräderX und der Think Tank. Unsere funktionalen Gruppen sind IT, Presse, Personalwesen und Finanzen. Jedes Jahr planen wir diese Gruppen um einen Strang zu erweitern bzw. diese Gruppen auszubauen.

// Quo vadis?

Wir werden den Entwicklungsprozess verstärkt institutionalisieren. Zahnräder durchlaufen unterschiedliche Stadien: vom Recruiting über Weiterbildung bis zum Exit und Alumni-Status. Wir suchen Menschen, die etwas bewegen möchten und wir bewegen sie. Das Recruiting bietet neuen Zahnrädern eine Aufnahme und Einstieg in die Organisation von Zahnräder. Weiterbildungsbausteine verknüpfen Theorie mit Praxis. Module können z.B. sein Digital Work, Corporate Identity, E-Teams, Leadership, Religion & Wirtschaft, Islamisches Entrepreneurship, Vision & Innovation.

Geplant ist eine Internationalsierung der Tätigkeiten. Dieses Jahr konzentrieren wir uns auf den deutschsprachigen Raum. So findet unsere Konferenz dieses Mal auch weiter südlich statt, um so die Anfahrt aus der Schweiz und aus Österreich zu erleichtern. In einigen Jahren könnten dann Kooperationen und Partnerschaften entstehen, die verstärkt europäisch und global sind. Mit unserem Unterstützer Jugend für Europa sind wir hierbei einen wichtigen ersten Schritt gegangen.

Wir möchten ein professioneller Ansprechpartner für die Umsetzung von Projekten jeglicher Stufe sein: Von vor der Idee bis hin zur Reflektion.  Zahnräder hat noch einen langen Weg vor sich. Wir suchen hierfür nach Weggefährten. Wer Interesse hat, kann sich bei uns melden. Unsere Broschüre bietet eine kompakte Übersicht.

Ansprechpartner:

Wir werden weiter versuchen intern wie extern nachhaltigen Wandel zu kreieren und so leidenschaftlich unseren Beitrag zu einem positiven Wandel in unserer Gesellschaft zu leisten.

Academic Entrepreneurship

Presented a paper co-authored with Thomas Bohné at this year’s Academy of Management Conference in Boston.

// The Interaction between Academic Entrepreneurs & Potential Academic Entrepreneurs

“In this article, we explore the interaction between academic entrepreneurs (AEs) and potential academic entrepreneurs (PAEs) within academia. We focus on why and how these two groups interact and investigate intra-organizational facilitators and barriers of this interaction. The findings from our case study of the University of Oxford show that AEs are providing PAEs with encouragement and credibility and access to an entrepreneurial network. However, we also find resentment of entrepreneurship within academia and that distrust among academics complicate interactions, as academics are less open about their entrepreneurial interests and activities. In addition, we find that the technology transfer office (TTO) is both enabling and disabling the interaction. The TTO is perceived by PAEs and AEs as supportive of entrepreneurship, but also as having only limited knowledge and often being subject to a conflict of interest.”

 

Zahnräder Network

Zahnräder transforms individual energy into collective movement. Together, the Zahnräder – wheels or gears – create change in and for society. The Zahnräder Network provides a professional platform to encourage as well as enable efficient and effective positive change by equipping its participants with capabilities to fish rather than the fish itself. And it offers a place – on- and offline – for structured interaction to contribute to a socially sustainable, innovative and multifaceted society.

// Social Incubator for Social Entrepreneurship

Zahnräder is a Social Incubator for Social Entrepreneurship. Members in our network have a strong desire to shape society, to have a social impact. Zahnräder is a platform for Social Innovation providing human, social, financial and cultural capital. Zahnräder acts as an “uncle (or aunt) doctor substitute support system” by encouraging and enabling changemakers making change happen.

Ability Usability
Internal Human Capital Cultural Capital, Motivation
External Social Capital Financial Capital, Credibility

// Conferences

At our conferences up to 100 participants come together – all of them as producers and no one just as a consumer. It is all about sharing: sharing knowledge, sharing your network, sharing what drives you, your goals, your ambitions, your vision. Participants speak about their projects, receive feedback, knowledge. Some join projects they encounter some recommend it to their friends. Together, we do not just “add up”, we multiply effort and subsequently impact.

// Support

We are grateful to have so many organisations like Youth for Europe, British Council, AKE Bildungswerk, Islamic Relief, VdM and the Sawasya Foundation supporting us. And we just won the Social Entrepreneurship Academy Act for Impact public choice award and 5000 €. Thank you all.

// Ashoka Changemakers Partnership

We have also just announced a partnership with Ashoka Changemakers. Through the digital community space, we hope to provide a professional online platform for Muslims with their diverse and invaluable projects which shape society; a place for sustainable change and social innovation where members can learn from each other, encourage each other, connect, seek funding opportunities and market their projects to the world.

// Structure

Currently, over 70 people are involved in the organization of Zahnräder. Being part of the organisation team is about changing yourself whilst changing society. Communication is primarily online via skype, basecamp and email. We are organized in a matrix-like organization with functional groups on the horizontal and working groups on the vertical axis. Functional groups are inter alia finance, communication, HR and IT. Working groups are the conference team, ZahnräderX local teams and the think tank.

// Quo vadis?

Zahnräder emerged in Oxford in spring 2010 and is only a bit over two years old. It subsequently evolved through the commitment of so many dedicated people. We managed by now to shift from a starting phase to a growth phase. The idea is to be sustainable internally and provide sustainable services externally. We will continue to passionately strive for positive change in society to make this place, our place, a better place.

Peace at Home, Peace in the World

Turkey is a rising global power, but it is still discovering its own identity. Article in the Oxonian Globalist.

Firm Knowledge & Fluid Boundaries

// Practical Wisdom for Management from the Islamic Tradition

The European Academy for Business in Society (EABIS) in partnership with Yale organised a couple of conferences on practical wisdom for management from religious, spiritual and philosophical traditions. I attended the conference at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco, on practical wisdom for management from the Islamic tradition.

The conference was filled with fascinating insights into current research projects. Prof. Rafik Beekun, for example, presented on “Muhammad as CEO” and Prof. Muqtedar Khan on “Islamic Mystical Concepts for Governance and Management of Multicultural Institutions in the Age of Globalization”. More here.

// Ego, body & soul

I presented on knowledge and boundaries in a Sufi Dhikr Circle. The purpose was to infer “wisdom” from the Islamic tradition on knowledge transfer and organizational boundaries for organizational theory and practice.

As a participant observer I sought a deep immersion into a Sufi Dhikr Circle to conceptualize how firstly the organisation transfers and stores knowledge and secondly how boundaries through de-facto membership, identity and sense-making are enacted. The Circle had a socialized establishment of knowledge through collective, relational and personal knowledge transfer processes employing comprehensively all senses. And the fluidity of intra- and inter organizational boundaries allowed for flexibility as well as wider and stronger identification. The presentation can be found here.

// From “different practice” to “common practice” to “best practice”

I believe there to be considerable wisdom for management from traditions which are not much shaped by the mainstream organizational discourse. It provides insights into one organization which is not considered “best practice” but rather conceptualized as “different practice”. The observation of “different practice” consequently enables a critical reflection of “common practice” potentially leading to a new “best practice”.

A few thoughts on Twitter

I have been on twitter for two months and a few days. Who would have thought that constraining people exchanging thoughts to 140 characters would become such a successful business model? Twitter was founded less than six years ago. And what comes next? Up to 14 seconds’ videos or 140 pixel pictures?

// information, knowledge, wisdom

In a time of increasing information where knowledge competes with information, we need mechanisms to strive for knowledge and wisdom. Or to speak with Eliot: “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” Twitter constraints the number of characters but neither the number of posts nor the number of people we follow –  nor, of course, the time spent on Twitter. We may still end up in a net of over-information. Yes, tweeted information is now edited and concise, but it often becomes merely subdivided and two tweets substitute one other message somewhere hidden amongst other tweets.

// being an architect. 

What is fascinating is that we became to some extent the architect of our own information channels. We choose who to follow. This brings some freedom of information as well as flexibility to create our own information. Each of us has his customized newspaper and news channel. The media, the fourth power, in the hand of the people? Not quite, yet social media is powerful.

This new power brings responsibility which a society needs to reflect upon on a macro level: Are we well equipped to be the engineers of our own information streams? How do we educate ourselves to be prepared for the challenge to act as our own architects and the architects of our own surroundings? And what do these information structures make of us? Who creates these structures? And why?

// the strange

On a micro level, we need to constantly review our own thoughts as well as the structures we create around ourselves which shape these thoughts. We should look out for the non-obvious, the strange. So my advice: follow the strange from time to time, be shocked by what is out there outside our own comfort zone, in order to reflect on this comfortable turf we create around ourselves and in which explanation appears sometimes so simple. Let’s shake up our information syllabus and break out of  our very own information channels.

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