Sustainable Business: Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

I just clicked ‘checkout’ for a few pounds of Dean’s Beans. Haven’t tried them before, but wanted to after hearing Dean Cycon, CEO of Dean’s Beans and author of Javatrekker: Dispatches From the World of Fair Trade Coffee, speak tonight at Indiana University. “I don’t believe social justice is a formula, I believe it is a process.” Passionate and positive, he shared his ideas on how socially responsible business practice and respect for quality of life can help change the world. Sustainable business is all the rage, but efforts at many companies seem to get holed up in the marketing department or as purely charitable exercises. I asked Dean if he thought large organizations could change over to the sustainable thinking his company emulates: “For a pre-existing large scale organization it’s hard because people are already in there looking for profit. […] However, when a corporation starts out and says these are … Continue reading

Biomutualism, Breaking Down Silos, and Finding Inspiration

Developing a structure that encourages cross pollination of ideas is difficult at best. We are barely able to keep up with all the advances within a discipline, let alone take time to see what is happening in other fields. But as you may know from my love of ideas from strange places, I’m a big believer in breaking those silos down to drive innovative thought. In that vein I came across this Ted Talk from June by Robert Full called Learning from the gecko’s tail. His presentation demonstrates the powerful possibilities of cross discipline approaches to innovation. A few quotes really stood out: “[Biomutualism is] An association between biology and another discipline where each discipline reciprocally advances the other to where the collective advances that emerge are beyond any single field.” And: “We need to build biomutualisms like I showed that will increase the pace of basic discovery, in their … Continue reading

Shaking Up the MBA | Dirty Fingernails Entrepreneurship

There’s been a lot of discussion about whether the MBA curriculum has led business leaders astray. To the point that this year’s crop of Harvard Grads decided they needed to take an oath to look beyond stock price and financials in making business decisions. Hmmm. This got me thinking about my own grad-school days. My favorite prof taught entrepreneurship at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business. Of all my classes at IU, this one clearly informed me of how little I would know when I escaped academia for the workforce. He was less a professor and more a serial entrepreneur who chose to teach business students a bit about the ‘real world.’ If memory served, he favored what I call ‘dirty fingernails’ entrepreneurship, where it isn’t as much about managing at first, as it is about creating value that didn’t exist or is in short supply – finding the … Continue reading

Who’s Afraid Of Free?

Free: The Future of a Radical Price is a new book from Chris Anderson that has caused various folks to turn red, argue, get defensive and worry. Most of the worry was already there. But Free provides structure. That is a benefit. I chose to read Free while drinking herbal mint tea at Barnes & Noble. The venti tea cost $2.06 (I forgot to use my membership card). I was able to milk my tea for the several hours it took to read Free. I did not pay for Free. Which means I read Free for Free. By following the principles of Free, Barnes & Noble earned $2.06, instead of $25 something. While I do not believe this pleases Barnes & Noble, they earned more than Amazon this time around. That is also a benefit and maybe a quandary. How to get herbal mint tea out of a Kindle. hmmm.

Texting Innovation For Rural Medicine

What do you do when patients are so isolated and travel is so difficult and money is so tight that symptoms go untreated because information travels so slowly? Oh, and there’s not a dime to spare. This is the challenge faced by many rural health centers utilizing a system of community health workers who travel from clinics to reach patients in very isolated regions. They usually travel by foot or bike. They often cover such large areas that they may not return to the base clinic more than once a month. In wealthier regions solutions would probably involve large scale databases, interactive web pages, medical equipment hooked up to doctors in centralized locations and maybe even a car or two. Sometimes a lack of resources and a will to succeed is more than ample to create a real world changing difference. Frontline SMS:Medic was one of the business plans presented … Continue reading