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Entrepreneurship summit and the design thinking trend

Entrepreneurship Summit 2010, Nov 6 - Berlin - Go to site

Entrepreneurial design – and the design thinking context

The focus of the entrepreneurship summit 2010 has been entrepreneurial design and I think the concept is convincing. Concept? Maybe there are more than one concept around under this name. Just found it linked to design thinking in a certain manner, as you can see on this page and nice video from Stanford Graduate School of Business Extreme Affordability Journal. Affordability is a central term here – since the process seems to target the “bottom of the pyramid“.

Design Thinking at Stanford: Extreme Affordability Expo 2010

Since I was in touch with design thinking (DT) I am totally fascinated with the method. In this year I met the practitioners and “activists” at different places e.g. Potsdam HPI or the IA-Konferenz 2010, Köln (see post: “Are we Innovation Architects? Service.Design.Thinking, #IAK10“). Hey, I just realized my (subjective) “trend feeling” about DT and found evidence at Google trends:

Statistical evidence of the up-trend in design thinking (Google trends 2010-11-08)


Prof. Faltin’s stance

I found the interpretation of the term “entrepreneurial design” in the context of market dynamics quite plausible. In his keynote Prof. Faltin talked about the difference of a (complete functional) automobile and the Otto engine (as an essential technical component of a car). In this perspective the automobile is the entrepreneurial design, which enables the Otto engine to be sold. One could say it this way: Only with the automobile structure build around the Otto engine the engine is “networked” with the needs of the people. Making the explosion engine beneficial for the need of mobility. This at the same time transforms people to (automobile) customers, i.e. a new market emerges.

Maybe, that there is a whole concept cloud around “entrepreneurial design”, or that this all is just one design thinking cloud – I for my part find the Otto engine example of Prof. Faltin graphic, maybe paradigmatic.


Insight: The “Apple success” is based simply on … entrepreneurial design

Now think about the Apple success story. The competitors are shocked again and again to see that Apple wins the market with devices, that are build on components some not being state of the art. The success is based on entrepreneurial design, i.e. networking the companies ressources with the users needs, making the device a “node in the behavioral network” of the customer.

Eco-Singularity is near. Solutions (III)

Three posts about ecological singularity and the avalanche of change

The Eco-Singularity is near. Preface (I)… Definition (II)… Solutions (III)


Eco-Singularity – core concept, strengths and challenges

In part II a first approach has been accomplished to define the concept of “eco-singularity”:

Eco-Singularity definition (from Part II)

Eco-Singularity is the event, when our (growing) capacity to solve the totality of anthropogenic problems is superseded by the volume of the (growing) totality of anthropogenic problems. (Part II)

The definition’s strength is that it meets the intuition, that there is a race between the problem elements of the system (total biosphere) and the solution elements of the system (total biosphere). There are some challenges of the concept – find more about it in the appendix beneath.

The two avalanches: Can the "solution system" catch the expanding "problem system"?


Scenarios and insights: Will we have the innovation avalanche we need to survive our own technology?

I will unfold the main scenarios in some future post. For the moment the most important insight is, that there is a high uncertainty concerning the “innovation race of mankind”. Some more insights in no special order:

  1. Industrialization 1.0: With the global spreading of technology and industrial production the consumtion of natural ressources is growing and environmental pollution is increasing – as everyone knows.
  2. Industrialization 2.0: We find the secondary technologies to avoid unwanted effects nearly everywhere on the globe: filter technologies to avoid emissions, sewage plants to keep the water clean, recycling infrastructure etc.
  3. Only deeds count: The extent of neutralization clearly is dependent on the technology, innovation generation, effectiveness and especially the actual application of the technology.

The two avalanches: Problem system and solution system interacting

  1. Dynamic picture: There is a race of the two avalanches – and this is a more complex picture than thinking about the “limits of growth”. “Limit thinking” is right to point to the fundamental fact, that the planet’s material ressources are … limited.
  2. Do not underscore the innovation factor: We are part of a naturally limited system, right. But technological innovations of all kind can shift the limits dramatically. E.g. when re-cycling valuable ressources, what is done routinely, the same atoms can be used again and again. It is a different question, whether this is done to an adequate extent and whether it is possible in a energy- and cost-efficient way.
  3. Disruptive innovations are needed: With China, India, Russia and Brazil (the socalled BRIC nations) increasing their metabolism with nature we find that the Industrialization 2.0 standard efforts are not capable to compensate for the “problem input” to the biosphere. The resistance to some (rather weak) CO2 treaty is a good indicator of the mismatch. Probably we need disruptive innovations to reach the goals. We then might come back to some sustainable metatboilism with our biosphere – if it is possible anyway.

The message: Think innovativeness beyond technological innovation!

If you realize the trouble we are in, you might be a bit discouraged. Everyday some 130 species are extinct for ever – this is 1.000 times more than the natural extinction rate, i.e. 100.000%. Every acre of land which is deforested, will cost us so much more to re-forest … and so on.

But there is reason for hope: The creativity of the human being and the human culture is incredibly huge! Today we see the investments of hundreds of billions in the technological sector of innovation. We have to seriously add other sectors of innovation:

Viable path: How to respond to the urgent global challenges? We have to combine technologocical ingeniousity with social, political and economical innovations.

  • Social innovation: New ways of working, sustainable lifestyle, happiness driven “social layout”
  • Political innovation: New ways of opinion-forming, decision making, politcal representation
  • Economical innovation: New sustainable business models, new ways to create value chains

If you look around you will find a lot of signals and drivers of change.

Together with convergent innovative technological solutions we might be witness of the birth of some new socio-economical “blueprint” leading to global sustainable society – before selfmade “eco-singularity” is winning against ourself.

Update! 2010-11-02 – Thank you very much Ralf!

There are more and more people, who  understand the core problem. Yesterday somehow marginalized by the “leaders”, today they are literaly entering the stage: E.g. Leaders listening to thoughtleader Otto Scharmer at World Economic Forum, China 2010

Thank you very much Ralf (@RalfLippold: MIT Passionist, BMW Leipzig Fellow, System Dynamicst, Boundary Spanner, Visionary, Helper, you gave an absolutlely great link in your comment!
Most of the readers might want to skip the beginning of the video and start with the ideas of Scharmer. Just go to minute 8:00 and enjoy the perspecitves of Otto Scharmer: the world needs macro-innovation, a 4th coordination mechanism, a new type of attitude, thinking and leadership: We have to enable awareness based collective action. And trust as the enabler!
I completely agree. Great to see that convergence in analysis and conclusions. We just need to adjust our common sense a bit and open our eyes – the cognitive ingredients have not to be invented, actually they are in the making. I really recommend to view the video!

Update: Great, here is the embeddable version of the video (skip to the 8th minute for Scharmer):


Update! 2010-11-04 – Wolff Horbach (Business Blog has done an interwiew

Wolff Horbach (Business Blog asked me about my analyses and theses, thanks a lot!

Wolff Horbach helps people and enterprises to understand the dynamics of … happiness, Everyone wants it, nobody really knows and understands it. Isn’t it a goal and a ressource at the same time? He has writen a book too (German), find more about it here: Faktor G - Glückliche Mitarbeiter. Glückliche Kunden. Glückliche Unternehmen.



Challenges of the eco-singularity concept (in the perspective of hard science)

The definition’s weakness partly lies in the “limits of measurement”: How to measure “problem volumes” and “solution capacity”? There is a overwhelming complexity in both parameters. We have intuitions that a problem A (having cancer) is “bigger” than a problem B (having cought a cold), and that a solution A (teaching safe driving) has more capacity than a solution B (teaching to avoid traffic controls). This means that some “soft” metrics should be possible. There is a first list of complexity issues:

  • (a) the vast amount of options,
  • (b) causal interdependency of choices (combining two optima sometimes leads to a suboptimal global solution),
  • (c) value dependency (the moral value coordinates determine the rating and ranking of problems and solutions)
  • (d) self-referentiality and non-linearities

There might be some more intricacies, but we can set all this aside for the moment since the concept at first is useful to understand the “big picture” of global technological history. It will be useful as a kind of world view or cognitive tool even if  the details of the defining features have to be worked out.


Minor updates

  • 2010-11-01 Some minor changes in spelling, hyperlinking some words. adding second graphics
  • 2010-11-04 linking the three posts


Three posts about ecological singularity and the avalanche of change

The Eco-Singularity is near. Preface (I)… Definition (II)… Solutions (III)


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